Posted June 14, 2022

 

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At the end of May, the State Senate wrapped up their budget. Last week, the three House and three Senate members who make up the FY23 budget Conference Committee began meeting to iron out the differences between the House and Senate versions of the budget. The conferees are Senate Ways and Means Chair Michael Rodrigues, Senate Ways and Means Vice Chair Cindy Friedman, Senate Ways and Means Ranking Minority Member Patrick O’Connor, House Ways and Means Chair Aaron Michlewitz, House Ways and Means Vice Chair Ann-Margaret Ferrante, and House Ways and Means Ranking Minority Member Todd Smola.

Here is the letter we sent to the conferees, Senate President Spilka, and House Speaker Mariano.

Please help us advocate with the conferees and your own state legislators for the priorities listed below and in Column D of our budget chart. This is our chance to make sure the Commonwealth does even more to prevent and end homelessness and housing instability in the fiscal year ahead, in every corner of Massachusetts.

You can follow the links above for the email addresses and phone numbers of the budget conferees. Find out who your State Representative and Senator are and their contact information by going to www.wheredoivotema.com or by calling the State House switchboard at 617-722-2000. After sending your emails or making your calls, please let us know by emailing us.

·         Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (line item 7004-9316):

o    Funding request: At least match the higher Senate funding level of $150,000,000 in direct appropriations

o  Language requests: Senate language to explicitly restore the RAFT benefit cap to $10,000/household for FY23 and to simplify income verification for MassHealth and Department of Transitional Assistance program participants plus House language to expand categories of households eligible for RAFT with incomes above 50% area median income (AMI) but below 60% AMI. We also are asking the Conference Committee to protect upstream access to RAFT by prohibiting the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) from requiring a notice to quit, summary process summons and complaint, and/or utility shut-off notice to access RAFT. While this upstream language was not in the House or Senate proposals, we are asking the Conference Committee to take swift action given DHCD’s recent indication that they plan to require families and individuals to have one of those documents to access resources for back rent and back utilities in FY23.

·         Emergency Assistance (EA) family shelter and services (line item 7004-0101):

o   Funding request: Higher House funding level of $218,641,057

o   Language requests: More detailed Senate tracking and reporting language plus related Senate language from Outside Section 4 on public posting of reports

·         Housing and Services for Unaccompanied Youth and Young Adults Experiencing Homelessness (line item 4000-0007):

o    Funding request: Higher Senate funding level of $9,500,000

·         Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (line item 7004-9024):

o    Funding request: Higher Senate funding level of $154,300,000

o    Language requests: Senate language on counting tenants’ utility payments in the calculation of their rent share, to be capped at 30% of income, instead of the current general standard of 40% of income for rent

·         HomeBASE (line item 7004-0108):

o    Funding request: Higher House funding level of $59,411,201

o    Language requests: Senate language to lift the income eligibility limit for families once they enroll in HomeBASE to allow families to maximize their income plus related Senate language from Outside Section 4 on public posting of reports. We are grateful that the House, Senate, and Governor all recommended making HomeBASE a two-year program instead of a one-year program.

·         Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children Program (line item 4408-1000):

o    Funding request: Higher Senate funding level of $140,645,184

o    Language request: Senate language to increase monthly grants by 10%. We encourage the Conference Committee to modify the language to implement the grant increase earlier in the fiscal year, instead of April 2023.

·         Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children Grant Payments (TAFDC, line item 4403-2000):

o    Funding request: Higher Senate funding level of $356,630,717

o    Language request: Senate language to increase monthly grants by 10%. We encourage the Conference Committee to modify the language to implement the grant increase earlier in the fiscal year, instead of April 2023.

·         Alternative Housing Voucher Program (AHVP, line item 7004-9030):

o    Funding request: $13,685,355 in direct appropriations as recommended by both the House and Senate, with language to carry over unspent FY22 fund, with anticipated combined funding of approximately $19,300,000

·         Subsidies to Public Housing Authorities (line item 7004-9005):

o    Funding request: $92,000,000 as recommended by both the House and Senate

·         Shelter and Services for Adults Experiencing Homelessness (line item 7004-0102):

o    Funding request: Higher House funding level of $100,000,000

·         Home and Healthy for Good Program (line item 7004-0104):

o    Funding request: Higher House funding level of $6,390,000

·         Transportation for Students Experiencing Homelessness (line item 7035-0008):

o    Funding request: Higher House funding level of $22,981,479

·         Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) Administrative Account (line item 7004-0099):

o    Language requests: The Senate’s more detailed version of language on data collection related to access to Emergency Assistance (EA) applications, as well as related Senate language from Outside Section 4 on public posting of reports

·         Eviction Protections:

o    Language request: Senate language from Outside Section 161 on “Study on No-Fault Evictions”

·         Common application for benefits and housing resources:

o    Language request: Language to create a common application for programs such as MassHealth, TAFDC, EAEDC, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and resources such as housing subsidies, shelter, childcare subsidies, and fuel assistance, as recommended by both the House and Senate