Category Archives: Advocacy

President Obama’s FY17 Housing Budget Request

A federal budget update from the National Low-Income Housing Coalition:

FY17 Request Goes Bold to End Family Homelessness

President Barack Obama’s FY17 budget request seeks a long-overdue, significant investment in federal efforts to end homelessness for all families by 2020. For FY17, HUD is asking Congress to provide $88 million for 10,000 new housing choice vouchers for homeless families with children, funding for 25,000 new permanent supportive housing units, and funds to provide 8,000 families with rapid rehousing assistance. In addition, HUD announced a legislative proposal where it will seek $11 billion in mandatory spending over the next 10 years to serve a total of 550,000 families with additional vouchers, permanent supportive housing, and rapid rehousing assistance.

For the ten-year $11 billion Homeless Assistance for Families program, which would be run through HUD’s Continuum of Care framework in partnership with local public housing agencies, HUD estimates approximately 20% of the funds will be used to support rapid rehousing, and 80% of the funds will support housing choice vouchers.

The request, which relays the President’s FY17 budget priorities to Congress, would also provide increases to ensure the renewal of assistance provided by the housing choice voucher, project-based rental assistance, Section 202 Housing for the Elderly, and Housing for Persons with Disabilities programs. Of these programs, the request would only expand the number of people assisted by the voucher program, with the $88 million for 10,000 new vouchers for homeless families for children, plus $7 million for a Tribal HUD-VA Supportive Housing (VASH) program to serve homeless or at risk of homeless Native American veterans living in and around designated tribal areas. There are no funds in the request to expand the number of new units in the Section 811 or Section 202 programs.

For public housing agencies, the request would increase funding for public housing operating subsidies from FY16’s $4.5 billion to $4.569 billion in FY17, would increase capital funds from FY16’s $1.9 billion to $1.865 billion in FY17, and significantly increases voucher administrative fees from FY16’s $1.650 billion to $2.077 billion in FY17. HUD intends to “fully fund” administrative fees under a new fee formula that HUD plans to implement for calendar year 2017. The budget also proposes a new $15 million housing choice voucher Mobility Counseling Demonstration program to help families with housing vouchers move and stay in areas of opportunity.

Again, the President seeks $50 million in funding for the Rental Assistance Demonstration, which currently allows PHAs to change the subsidy platform of their public housing to either project-based rental assistance or project-based vouchers but does not provide any additional public funds. The request also seeks to make Section 202 Project Rental Assistance Contract (PRAC) owners eligible to convert their subsidy stream under RAD. The request also seeks new RAD language to ensure residents’ right to continue their tenancy, by imposing the demonstration’s prohibition on rescreening or termination of residents during redevelopment efforts, on Rent Supplement, Rental Assistance Payment, and Mod Rehab properties that convert under RAD.

The President’s request seeks an increase for HUD’s Fair Housing Initiatives Program, from FY16’s $40 million to $46 million in FY17. The FHIP program provides funding to state and local governments and to public and private nonprofit organizations that administer programs to prevent or eliminate discriminatory housing practices through enforcement, education, and outreach.

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You’re Invited: Network Legislative Gathering on 3/4 – RSVP please!

The Western Massachusetts Network to End Homelessness is pleased to host a legislative gathering of the Western MA delegation to share the progress of the Western MA Opening Doors Plan to End Homelessness and to discuss the Network’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget priorities.

The event will take place on Friday, March 4, 10:30 am – noon, Kittredge Center, Holyoke Community College.

Legislators who have confirmed their attendance to date include: Senate President Stan Rosenberg, Senator Ben Downing, Senator Don Humason, Senator Jim Welch, House Ways and Means Vice-Chair Stephen Kulik, Representative Brian Ashe, Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier, Representative Carlos Gonzalez, Representative Peter Kocot, Representative John Scibak, Representative Todd Smola, Representative Ellen Story, Representative Jose Tosado, Representative Aaron Vega, Representative John Velis and Representative Joseph Wagner.

DHCD Undersecretary Crystal Kornegay and Linn Torto, Executive Director, MA Interagency Council on Housing and Homelessness, among other state officials, will also be joining us.

All Network partners are welcome!  Please RSVP here.

We look forward to sharing in our accomplishments together and our vision for the work that lies ahead.  We hope to see you there!

DTA Issue Guidance to Exempt Homeless from SNAP 3 month Time Limit

Please see this message below from the Mass. Law Reform Institute:

Massachusetts has taken steps to protect the chronically homeless from loss of SNAP food benefits.  DTA Central – with input from the ABAWD (Able-bodied without dependents) Working Group and key homeless and health care providers – developed both field worker guidance and a special one-page ABAWD homeless exemption form for individuals who lack a stable nighttime residence. DTA drafted this guidance in late December after getting clarification from USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) granting status authority to further define as exempt individuals who are “obviously” unfit for work but may have difficulty securing medial or other documentation, including chronically homeless individuals.

Click below for two documents:

*   DTA Guidance from the DTA Online Guide (the pdf includes MLRI highlighting). Clients can call DTA to be screened and do not need to send in a written statement.
*   A new DTA ABAWD Homeless Exemption Supplement Form, distributed at a recent DTA training for food banks. (Note – DTA is in the process of translating and uploading this form to their website). This form can be filled out and mailed or faxed to DTA, or the client can also call the DTA Assistance Line to be screened.
Please try to identify and screen homeless clients ages 18-49 to protect their SNAP benefits (this is NOT necessary for homeless who receive SSI, RSDI, Veterans or EAEDC benefits, nor individuals with children).