CHAPA: Call to Action! Call Congress Today!

Please see CHAPA’s Action Alert below and call your Congressional Representative and Senator Today!

Last week, the Senate passed its tax reform plan. The Senate version of the bill retains the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC); tax exemption for private activity bonds, which would preserve the 4% LIHTC; and retains the New Markets Tax Credit and Historic Tax Credit. The next step is for the House and Senate to appoint a conference committee to reconcile the differences between their bills.

Although both the Senate and House tax reform plans will be devastating for so many and threaten the future funding of many programs that serve vulnerable individuals and families, a final tax reform plan is expected to be signed into law by the end of the year. We must act to ensure housing programs are preserved. There are key differences between the House and Senate plans. The Senate version preserves critical programs that produce and preserve affordable housing, including 4% credits, the New Markets Tax Credit, and the Historic Tax Credit.

Call your Representative and Senators now and urge them to protect affordable housing and community development in tax reform. Please ask them to contact House and Senate Leadership and members of the Conference Committee to:

  • Protect the Low Income Housing Tax Credit
  • Preserve the tax exemption of Private Activity Bonds to avoid the elimination of the 4% Low Income Housing Tax Credit
  • Retain the Historic Tax Credit and the New Markets Tax Credit

You can find contact information for your Members of Congress by clicking here.

Explaining the FY18 State Budget Including Veto Overrides

Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center has released the following summary and report:

Explaining the State Budget for FY 2018 Including Veto Overrides
 
In the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center’s latest Budget Monitor, “The State Budget for FY 2018 Including Veto Overrides,” we see the Fiscal Year 2018 (FY 2018) budget season ending much the way it started: with our state facing difficult fiscal conditions and unable to make the kinds of long-term investments that could significantly improve the quality of life in Massachusetts and expand opportunity in all communities. At this point in the process — after the Legislature enacted the budget, the Governor made a number of line item vetoes, and the Legislature overrode virtually all those vetoes and approved some supplemental funding — we have a state budget that makes some modest investments, particularly in education, child welfare, and in addressing substance use disorders.
The budget, however, continues to rely significantly on temporary fixes: counting 13 months of sales tax revenue in the 12 months of FY 2018; underfunding a number of accounts that will eventually need to be funded — such as paying for snow and ice removal; and a number of similar strategies. Altogether the budget includes about $750 million in temporary revenue and underfunded accounts. This makes it highly likely that the state will continue to face serious fiscal challenges next year. A bright spot, however, is tax revenue growth so far this year has been stronger than projected. If that trend continues, it would reduce the need to rely on temporary fixes this year and would put the state in better fiscal condition next year. In the long term, however, there is a significant danger that the federal government will — to pay for the costs of federal tax cuts — impose deep cuts in Medicaid, education, and other services currently funded together by the state and federal governments.
This Budget Monitor includes the final funding levels of FY 2017, the current FY 2018 budget, and significant policy changes in each area of the budget. Current 2018 budget levels are also compared to 2001 budget where relevant. For more comprehensive data on historic spending levels for each line item and category of the budget, see MassBudget’s Budget Browser. For additional detail on programs in the state budget that affect children see our Children’s Budget. Click here to read the full Budget Monitor, “The State Budget for FY 2018 Including Veto Overrides,” or click below on individual sections:

Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes – 12/1/17

Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes – 12/1/17
In attendance: Beth Barbra, Veterans, Inc., Steve Connor, Central Hampshire Veterans Services, Pat DiGregorio, Veterans Inc., Keegan Hersey, Veterans Inc., Nikki Riello, Hilltown Community Development Corp (Three County CoC), Kate Sweetster-Owens, Ali Wilson-Pierce, HUD/VASH.
Hampden County CoC Update:  The CoC is rolling out its new online system that supports coordinated entry. Kate, Katherine and Barb have all been trained on it and are finding it easy to use; they see it as an extremely useful tool for gaining quick info on a veteran’s priority status and for understanding the most appropriate next steps to assist a veteran.  The system also provides real-time data on veterans in the family shelter system, which the CoC has never had before. This will make it easier to make sure those veteran households are connecting to veteran services soon after shelter entry.
Hampden CoC  veteran numbers continue to be low, but it is challenged by some very difficult cases, which don’t have clear paths to resolution.
Three County CoC Update: Nikki provided an update.  They are working with Sue White of the VA to get HUD/VASH updates into the overall tracking system (to keep track of who has been housed).  The current count is at 13 homeless veterans (outside of Soldier On’s system where there are a  couple hundred).   The 3 county veterans committee is continuing to meet monthly to review its by-name list.  Housing placements are happening.
Soldier On housing: The prioritization process is still being worked out between Soldier On and HUD/VASH for the new Agawam housing: Soldier On runs by a first-come, first-serve in terms of processing its applications; the VA is hoping to allocate the units based on priority need.  Conversations are underway to come to a  resolution.  There are currently roughly 20 units left in Agawam.
Responding to Puerto Rican veterans: The group discussed the complexities arising from the arrival of PR veterans in the Springfield area. The usual prioritization system does not apply and there is hope that some accommodation will be made so that these special circumstances can be taken into account, e.g., “over-assets” by virtue of owning property in PR but the property is not habitable.  Discussions with the VA are underway but it is unclear who is in a decision making position. It was recommended to contact the Holyoke VSO office (Jesus) with questions regarding PR veterans.
Statewide Update: Steve noted that at a previous meeting it was said that the Central/West region had 72 unused HUD VASH vouchers.  This was confusing and did not comport with the West’s sense of the numbers.  One theory was that this number was coming from the Worcester area.  It was also noted that HUD/VASH positions are not being filled in both Worcester and Springfield, which adds to a slow-down in the allocation process.
Network Update:  Pamela reported the good news that thanks to DHCD, the Network will be funded to continue its work through at least FY18.  The Leadership Council will still use this opportunity to retain a consultant to explore with Network partners how the Network can best meet the region’s needs in the years ahead.  Stay tuned for more on that in the new year.
Announcements: 
  • Chapin Mansion is looking for a live-in house manager – a great opportunity for a qualified veteran
  • Hampden County got 8 new HUD/VASH vouchers – good news
Next meeting: Friday, January 26, 9 am-10:30 am, Northampton Senior Center