The Coalition has dedicated its work to finding concreate solutions to housing, income, health and education inequalities in all parts of the Commonwealth. Since its inception 38 years ago, it has worked towards this goal using systemic change fueled by public policy and creating programs and initiatives that address these inequalities.
Through the Coalitions systemic change work headed efforts that led to the passage of the Anti-Homelessness Act of 1983. The Coalition has a rich history of innovated and impactful policy work within the areas of homeless prevention, housing and income benefit programs that benefit families, individuals, elders and youth. The Coalition has been instrumental in the implantation of the first state-wide funded homeless prevention funding, Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) in 2005. In 2017, RAFT assisted over 4,000 low-income households to retain or obtain housing by giving them access to financial assistance through the state. Since being instated into the state budget, the Coalition has been the lead in growing its initial $1M to now $20M in approved funding. Two years ago, the Coalition successfully had language included to recognize individuals as families and are now able to access RAFT assistance.
The Coalition has continued to work tirelessly to ensure that children whose families have become homeless are able to continue their education. For the past 11 years the Coalition has worked on both a state and federal level to strengthen the McKinney Vento Homeless Education Act and through this work, today, homeless children have the ability to access education the same way as their housed peers. The Coalition played an instrumental part in facilitating the roll out of the reauthorization of the McKinney Vento Act in 2002 and has continued to work with the Department of Secondary Education on a variety of issues that have risen. The Coalition worked and successfully made it possible for school districts to receive state reimbursement for transportation for homeless children as well as assisted in helping districts to address the growing numbers of homeless children within their schools.
Our work within homeless education sadly unveiled a new and growing population of individuals becoming homeless and that is of youth between the ages of 16 to 21. The Coalition has become a statewide leader in addressing youth homelessness/unaccompanied homeless youth which is the fastest growing population of people becoming homeless in our state and in the nation. The Coalition successfully established the first statewide commission on youth homelessness/unaccompanied homeless youth that is chaired by the Lt. Governor and has continued under 4 administrations. It is through this commission that the state has directed support in housing and case management to assist these youth to remain in school. The Coalition has worked with the state hand in hand to hold an annual, statewide count on homeless youth. The result of this work has assisted the state to leverage federal funding and in turn help shape policy to address the growing epidemic of homeless youth.
The Coalition has long believed that it is not just our role to craft legislation for people living in poverty but to also craft programs and initiatives to address gaps in services. As we look towards the next 5 years, we will continue to work on long term systemic change solutions to housing, income, education and health inequalities as well as expand and strengthen our programs and initiatives. We will continue to not only observe the issues that affect the lowest income residents of our state, but react by crafting legislation and programing that will continue to make a difference in their daily lives and we thank you again for supporting us in that effort.