Category Archives: Advocacy

Conference Committee Action Alert from Mass. Coalition for the Homeless

Please help us elevate the need for strong investments in housing and homelessness programs by weighing in one more time with your State Legislators before the Conference Committee releases its FY’15 budget recommendations.As you know, once the House and the Senate vote on their respective budgets, each branch appoints three members to a joint committee (the “Conference Committee”) to work out and resolve all differences between the two budgets. The compromise budget that comes out of Conference Committee is then brought to the House and Senate members for a final vote before being sent to the Governor.

This year’s House Conference Committee members are Representatives Brian Dempsey (D-Haverhill, Chair of House Ways and Means), Stephen Kulik (D-Worthington, Vice Chair of House Ways and Means), and Vinny deMacedo (R-Plymouth, Ranking Minority Member of House Ways and Means). The Senate Conference Committee members are Senators Stephen Brewer (D-Barre, Chair of Senate Ways and Means), Jennifer Flanagan (D-Leominster, Vice Chair of Senate Ways and Mean), and Richard Ross (R-Wrentham, Ranking Minority Member of Senate Ways and Means).

The Conference Committee has been meeting for the past two weeks. While we do not know the current status of the behind-closed-doors negotiations on housing and homelessness issues, we are asking you to once again weigh in with your legislators to help ensure that the Conference Committee’s budget has the best language and highest levels of funding possible for housing and homelessness issues. In order to help urge the committee members to create a compromise budget that prioritizes these programs, please contact your own Legislators today and ask them to convey their support to the Conference Committee and to Leadership for the language and funding levels detailed in the sections below and in this letter from the Coalition to the conferees.

To learn more about the Coalition’s FY’15 Conference Committee budget priorities, please click here. For program fact sheets and additional materials, please go to our Present Policy Campaigns page.

Thank you for your advocacy and your continued support of housing and homelessness issues!

 -Kelly Turley
Director of Legislative Advocacy

Senate Budget Advocacy from Homes for Families

Please see the Homes for Families action bulletin below:

We have complied the amendments critical to addressing homelessness, and need you to take this work a step further by calling your senator’s office to let them know where their priorities should be!

Please review this list, identify the amendments that are most important to you, and call your senator to share! They are responsible to represent their constituents, but they can only do it to the best of their abilities if you give them the facts, knowledge and reason!

Amendments Critical to Addressing Homelessness

Emergency Shelter (7004-0101)

ECO370,ECO 371Senator Donnelly’s Amendments to correct shelter eligibility, so that families do not have to sleep in places not meant for human habitation and maintain otherprotections in the line item for families placed presumptively

ECO412Senator Lovely’s Amendment to increase funding to the Emergency Assistance program by $20M. This will allow for the expansion of contracted shelter units and reduce the need for supplemental budgets in FY15 to cover motel costs.

ECO340Senator Petruccelli’s  Amendment to provide 12 month contracts to family shelter providers

HomeBASE (7004-0108)

ECO399:  Senator O’Connor Ives’  Amendment to the HomeBASE Line Item (7004-0108) to increase funding by $4.8M and technical changes to increase the flexibility in the program.

Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (7004-9024)

ECO446: Senator Edridge’s  Amendment to ensure that vouchers are distributed fairly and efficiently, provide DHCD with the resources to establish a statewide waiting list for MRVP that can lay the ground work for a wait list for all state programs and ensure that the new waitlist is done quickly and that vouchers are on the street as quickly as possible

Other Amendments

EHS895: Senator Wolf’s Amendment fund the Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC) Grant Payments (DTA 4403-2000) at $289.2 million to allow for a modest TAFDC grant increase and provide a safety net to families who need it most

ECO372:  Senator Donoghue’s  Amendment to fund the Employment Services Program (DTA 4401-1000) at $9.7 million with $2 million to establish pilot pathways programs that would assist low-income families in accessing post-secondary education and training leading to jobs that pay family-sustaining wages. This amendment would also level fund all programs currently funded under this line item.

EDU501:  Senator Moore’s Amendment or a reserve to the department of early education and care to be distributed to increase reimbursement rates for center-based subsidized early education and care, for salaries, benefits and stipends for professional development of early educators or programmatic quality improvements

EHS722: Senator Finegold’s Amendment to provided necessary funding for the Teen Living Programs

GOV125: Senator Spilka’s Amendment on the Salary Reserve for Human Service Workers

ECO366: Senator Welch’s Amendment to the TPP program, a valuable prevention tool

EHS767: Senator Keenan’s Amendment to bring DCF line item 4800-1400 to $26.9

  • The SWM budget recommends $23,201,437. With the recent implementation of chapter 257 rates for residential services, this funding is essentially level to FY14 in terms of services. An increase is needed to expand shelter room capacity and build community based service capacity.
  • This line item funds Domestic Violence emergency shelter, transitional housing and community based services across the Commonwealth.

EHS926: Senator Eldridge’s Amendment to bring DPH 4513-1130 to $7.35 million will also add language to mirror the current and House budget language and include all programmatic areas.

  • The SWM budget recommends $5,752,078, which is essentially level
    funding to FY14 but still significantly below FY2009 funding (gap of
    $639,599).
  •  This line item funds Rape Crisis Centers throughout Massachusetts,batterer intervention programs, services for refugees, immigrant survivors and LGBQT survivors, as well as prevention funding.

        Thanks for all of your efforts- all progress has been made possible by YOU- and future progress is only possible because of YOU!

 

Network Advocacy for Senate Budget Amendments – Act Now!

The Senate Ways and Means Committee released its FY15 budget on Wednesday.  Budget amendments must be filed by 3:00 pm today and requests to co-sponsor should be communicated by NOON TODAY (but still try if it’s after noon – late add-ons are also possible!).
 
The advocacy below is consistent with our Network’s legislative priorities as established by the Network Leadership Council.  If you personally or organizationally support some but not all of the amendments below, advocate for what you can.  Every voice counts!  
 
Please call/email your senator on the following items ASAP, asking them to:
1.  Co-sponsor Senator Michael Barrett’s amendment to add the Secure Jobs line-item (7004-9322) to the budgeta vital and proven jobs program for homeless families.  The program language is the same as that adopted by the House, with the difference being the House amendment passed at $500,000 and the Senate proposal is for $2 million.  We already know this initiative works; we need state support to make it work for more families.
2.  Co-sponsor Senator Dan Wolf’s amendment to level-fund Housing Consumer Education Centers (HCEC) in this year’s budget.  The Senate Ways and Means budget cut funding by $250,000; the House budget cut it by $900,000.  Level funding is critical for maintaining housing counseling and education and to continue the RAFT program since funds to administer RAFT are not available from any other source.
3. Co-sponsor Senator John Keenan’s amendment to restore funding to the supportive housing pilot for LGBTQ unaccompanied homeless youth.  This pilot program was entirely defunded in the Senate budget (but funded in the House budget).  The program, which includes funding for Western Massachusetts, is vital to meet the needs of the disproportionate number of LGBTQ youth who are homeless in our region and across the Commonwealth.
4. Co-sponsor Senator Ken Donnelly’s amendment to amend the Emergency Assistance Line-Item (7004-0101) to prevent children from having to sleep in unsafe places.  Between July 2013 and March 2014, 467 families with children have slept in unsafe places before they were found eligible for emergency shelter.  This amendment would change the EA eligibility restriction (adopted in September, 2012) that has caused these unsafe situations by providing families access to shelter when they are within 24 hours of staying in a place “not meant for human habitation.”
5.  Co-sponsor Senator Rosenberg’s amendment to support the Western Massachusetts Network to End Homelessness with a $125,000 budget earmark.  This amendment, which passed in the House budget, offers an extraordinary opportunity for the Network to build its analysis and evaluation of best practices and to promote data-driven solutions for preventing and ending homelessness in the region and statewide.
To find your Senator’s contact information, click here.
Please call or email now!  Thank you!

Senate Ways and Means Budget: Mass. Coalition Analysis and Advocacy

Please read below for the analysis of the Senate Ways and Means budget and suggested advocacy by the Mass. Coalition for the Homeless:

Yesterday, the Senate Committee on Ways and Means (SWM) unveiled its fiscal year 2015 budget recommendations for the Commonwealth. This $36.25 billion budget marks the next step on the path to developing the state budget for the fiscal year that will begin onJuly 1stFriday afternoon at 3 p.m. will be the deadline for Senate members to file amendments to the SWM budget, with the Senate budget debate scheduled for next week.

 

Please see the sections below and here for preliminary information on the Senate Ways and Mean’s budget proposals for housing, shelter, homelessness prevention, and cash assistance programs, as well as some information on relevant amendments. Please take action today on the known amendments, and stay tuned in the week ahead for a more detailed analysis and additional information about amendments.

As this is only the next of several proposals on the way to the final FY’15 budget, your voice will be critical to helping to protect housing, homelessness, and safety net programs for families, individuals, and youth.

To learn more about the Coalition’s FY’15 budget priorities, please click here.

Thank you for advocating with us to protect and promote investment in these programs!

Senate Ways and Means FY’15 Budget Recommendations for Housing, Shelter, Homelessness Prevention, and Cash Assistance Programs 

To access SWM’s complete budget recommendations, please go to SWM FY’15 budget recommendations.
 
** To see the Coalition’s preliminary analysis, please click here. **

  

Take Action Today!

 1. Please ask your State Senator to support families, individuals, and youth experiencing homelessness and/or living in poverty by co-sponsoring the amendments listed above.

 2. Please ask your State Senator to support the Coalition’s budget priorities throughout the budget debate, in particular, our requests to:

  • Provide funding to identify, connect, house, and serve unaccompanied youth who are experiencing homelessness
  • Expanding the safety net of shelter for families by providing access to Emergency Assistance shelter and Seven Day Temporary Emergency Accommodations to those families at imminent risk of having to stay in places not meant for human habitation and other families facing dangerous situations.
  • Remove the 12-month bar on families re-accessing shelter if they only received a provisional placement pending verification.

State Senators can be reached through the State House switchboard:617-722-2000, or directly through the numbers listed here: Directory of Senators.