Last updated May 14th
** Please see our May 14th action alert and join us in taking action: Take action with us! Please ask your State Senator to cosponsor key homelessness prevention, housing, and benefits amendments to improve upon the FY’20 Senate Ways and Means budget **
On May 7th, the Senate Committee on Ways and Means released its fiscal year 2020 budget recommendations. This is the first budget under the leadership of Senate President Karen Spilka of Ashland and Senate Ways and Means Chair Michael Rodrigues of Westport. Senate Ways and Means (SWM) recommended $42.7 billion in spending for the new fiscal year, which will begin on July 1st.
The budget includes strong recommended language and proposed investments in homelessness, housing, and benefits programs, including:
· Emergency Assistance family and shelter program (EA, line item 7004-0101) language to ensure that families experiencing homelessness do not have to sleep in places not meant for human habitation before becoming eligible for EA shelter (matching our advocacy request on places not meant for human habitation; partially matching our overall request)
· $1.7 million in additional funding for housing and services for unaccompanied youth and young adults experiencing homelessness, which would bring the funding level up to $5 million (matching our advocacy request)
· Level funding of $20 million for the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition program (RAFT, line item 7004-9316), and language that would maintain access for households without dependent children (partially matching our overall advocacy request)
· $10 million in new funding for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP, line item 7004-9024), which would bring the funding level up to $110 million, and language that would update the allowable monthly rent levels to match current fair market rents for mobile subsidies issued or leased after August 1, 2019 (partially matching our advocacy request)
· $1.85 million in additional funding for the Alternative Housing Voucher Program (AHVP, line item 7004-9030) that would increase funding to $8 million (matching our advocacy request)
· $6.5 million in additional funding for state-funded public housing operating subsidies (line item 7004-9005) that would increase funding to $72 million (matching our advocacy request)
· Language that would maintain full Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children program (EAEDC, line item 4408-1000) benefits to participants experiencing homelessness (matching our advocacy request)
· Important funding and language for the Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children program (TAFDC, line item 4403-2000), including language that would remove the homelessness penalty and restore benefits to families experiencing homelessness, as well as additional funds to provide benefits to families previously subject to the family cap rule (matching/addressing our advocacy request)
Here is our updated FY’20 budget chart, with our initial analysis of key line items related to homelessness, housing, and benefits, and preliminary information about budget amendments that will be filed to improve upon the SWM budget (see columns K-L ), as well as our May 8th action alert.
State Senators were able to file amendments until noon on Friday, May 10th, and can cosponsor amendments until the full Senate budget debate, which is scheduled to begin on Tuesday, May 21st.
We are working on three main amendments:
– Amendment #797 to establish and fund the upstream Rent Arrearage Assistance Program (RAAP) under the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition program, filed by Senator Pat Jehlen of Somerville: RAAP Senate amendment fact sheet– PDF, updated 5-14-19; call script – PDF; talking points – PDF
– Amendment #464 to ease access to Mass IDs for people experiencing homelessness, filed by Senate President Emerita Harriette Chandler of Worcester: Mass ID access amendment fact sheet – PDF, updated 5-14-19
Please ask your State Senator to cosponsor and actively support these amendments. You can identify who your Senator is by going to www.wheredoivotema.com, and you can reach your Senator by calling the State House switchboard: 617-722-2000.
We also are partnering with allied organizations on related amendments to additional programs, including:
– Amendment #872 to allow families in Emergency Assistance (EA) shelter to increase their incomes to 200% of the federal poverty guidelines before going over the income limit, filed by Senator Patrick O’Connor of Weymouth (as described in our budget priority chart)
We will be back in touch soon with additional amendment details and updates so that you can help us secure as many amendment cosponsors as possible. If your Senator is a member of Senate Ways and Means or Senate leadership, please thank them for the strong budget.
We continue to be grateful for your collaboration and interest!