A summary from the MA Coalition for the Homeless:
Yesterday, the Senate Committee on Ways and Means released its budget recommendations for fiscal year 2019. Our preliminary analysis and amendment details are available on this page: SWM budget.
We wanted to share some good news before the start of the weekend. Senate Ways and Means proposed:
- Increasing funding for housing and services for unaccompanied youth and young adults from $675,000 in FY’18 to $3.3 million in FY’19
- Allowing access to Emergency Assistance shelters to otherwise eligible families before families are forced to stay in places not meant for human habitation
- Increasing Residential Assistance for Families in Transition funding from $15 million in FY’18 to $18.5 million in FY’19, and allowing households without children to access up to $3 million
- Eliminating the family cap rule in the Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children program and increasing the annual children’s clothing allowance from $300 to $350/child
- Increasing the maximum benefit level for families in the HomeBASE program
We are especially grateful to Senate Ways and Means Chairwoman Karen Spilka and Senate President Chandler for their leadership on these issues.
While the budget was strong, we are working with Senators to file several key amendments so as to strengthen the Senate budget even more:
– Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children program (EAEDC, line item 4408-1000): Senator Pat Jehlen is filing an amendment to remove the EAEDC homelessness penalty so that participants experiencing homelessness receive full monthly grants of $303.70/month instead of $92.80/month.
-Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT, line item 7004-9316): We were thrilled to see that the SWM budget included the full recommended funding for RAFT of $18.5 million, as well as language to maintain access for elders, people with disabilities, and unaccompanied youth. We are working with Senator Jamie Eldridge to tweak the language so that at least $3 million is set aside for households without children under the age of 21 (instead of no more than $3 million).
– Emergency Assistance family shelter program (EA amendment to the DHCD administrative line item 7004-0099): Senator Barbara L’Italien is filing an amendment to ensure that families experiencing homelessness can file in-person applications for family shelter with staff from the Department of Housing and Community Development in at least the ten cities and towns that had offices as of January 1, 2018. This is in response to efforts to shift to a more telephonically based system, which would present challenges to many families lacking access to phones, computers, scanners, and fax machines and for families with limited English proficiency.
* Please ask your State Senator to cosponsor these three amendments and actively advocate for them during caucuses, conversations with Senate leadership, and in the Senate debate.* The State House switchboard number is 617-722-2000. You also can look up who your Senator is via www.wheredoivotema.com.
Thanks for all of your efforts to strengthen access to homelessness prevention resources, housing, and benefits. Please let us know if you receive any feedback from your Senators in response to your outreach.