Category Archives: Advocacy

EA Shelter Contract Funding Update from Homes for Families

This update was provided by Homes for Families on Friday, March 27.  By the end of business on 3/27, EA shelter providers were given a 3 day contract extension.  The Conference Committee continues to meet today.

The Time Has Come Today…(so what will happen with EA?)

by Homes for Families

The Time Has Come Today…

..when the 7 day shelter contract extension, from the 21 day contract extension, from the 7 month contract will expire.  This article from the State House News, and heard/posted on public radio, makes is clear that everyone knows we have a serious timing issue:

When Gov. Charlie Baker urged the Legislature to act quickly on his midyear spending bill filed late last month, he likely had this very situation in mind, cautioning that there were agencies and programs with “time-sensitive” funding needs demanding action before the end of March.

 “We need the money that’s in the supp. From our perspective this is a timing issue. The shelters are not going to close. No families are in danger and we’re working diligently with the Legislature to get the money they need,” said Paul McMorrow, a spokesman for the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development.

House budget leaders said Thursday they were aware of “funding timelines” for the emergency assistance family shelter program, but could not comment on whether they would consider separating the shelter funding from the budget bill to get it approved faster.

It seems like an appropriate time, to share Homes for Families’ time lines illustrating the chaotic contract lengths for family shelters:

Here is what this year is looking like so far:

fy15sheltercontract

And here is how this year fits in with recent years:

timeLineEAfy15

So, what impact does this have on shelter programs you ask?

  • Well, for starters, right now providers can’t be paid. On April 1st, rent will due to landlords that lease apartments and buildings that are used as shelter units
  • When providers can’t be paid, they may have to rely on lines of credit, which they will have to pay back with interest
  • It is extremely burdensome on finance staff to manage funds when programs are not being reimbursed, and to have to amend budgets and do unnecessary paperwork
  • Last minute contract signing is a distraction and can be complicated, especially if shelters are dealing with crises, or if authorized signers are out of the office
  • DHCD contract managers have to manage the signing, resigning, and processing, when they are also responsible for monitoring programs and other assistance to providers
  • Legislators have to deal with the sudden blitz of calls from panicked advocates and shelter providers
  • Feel free to leaves comment about the other impacts that short term contracts have on you and your programs

We are hoping, and asking, that the EA supplemental funding get separated and passed independently.  This will allow the contracts to get issued, and time for the Conference Committee the time to thoughtfully work out the other compromises between the Senate and House Bills.

Update and Advocacy Alert on the Supplemental Budget

Thanks to Homes for Families for this update:

On February 27, the Governor filed a Supplemental Budget – “An Act Making Appropriations for the Fiscal Year 2015 to Provide for Supplementing Certain Existing Appropriations and for Certain Other Activities and Projects.”  A “supp budget” is additional funding allocated during the budget year, which runs from July 1-June 30th.  The family shelter system has had to depend on additional funding year after year, due to the motel expenses.  This year is no different.  Included in the Governor’s bill was $44M for the Emergency Assistance line item (7004-0101) which funds family shelters and $300,000 for short term rental assistance (7004-0108) which funds the HomeBASE program.

The House of Representatives passed their version of the Supplemental Funding Bill on March 11th, which included $44M for the Emergency Assistance (EA) program, but did not include any additional funding for the HomeBASE (HB) program.

Upon further analysis of the shelter and HomeBASE programs, it was determined that additional funding would be required for both programs to keep them running through the fiscal year.  Accordingly, the Senate Bill increased the funding for EA to $55M and included $3M for HB.  The Senate Bill was passed on March 19th.

Also included in the bills are funding for snow and ice removal, the Department of Children and Families, and all sorts of discrepancies related to complicated budget and legislative items such as gambling and higher education.  The differences in budget amounts and other items require compromised to be made by a Conference Committee.  Both the House and Senate announced their conferees today, and they are:

The rapid passing of this Supp Budget, with the Senate numbers, is critical to the family shelter system.  The EA program is limping along with short term contracts, while a suspension of HomeBASE could result in a dramatic increase in motel numbers and further expenses.  The motel numbers have decreased to below 1,400.  This reduction, from a high of 2,200 in December of 2013, is much in part to the extreme efforts of the shelter provider community.  Providers have increased their capacity by over 1,000 units in the past two years; dramatically increased their housing placements- despite limited resources; and have increased their presence in local offices doing diversion and in motels doing case management.

Western Mass. Health Equity Network Survey

Our Western Mass. Network to End Homelessness has become a partner of the Western Mass. Health Equity Network in recognition that ending homelessness bears directly on public health outcomes.  The Health Equity Network has partnered with the MA Public Health Association (MPHA), a statewide advocacy organization, and it is asking for community input around its statewide policy priorities.  Please take less than 15 minutes by noon, Tuesday, March 31, to complete this survey:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/WMHENpoll

The results will be shared at the Health Equity Policy Assembly on April 1 where participants will choose the coming year’s priorities for WMHEN.

Please feel free to forward this email widely.

Thank you!

 

Advocacy Alert for Supplemental Funding

Please read this notice below from the Mass. Coalition for the Homeless and please act!

Thursday, the State Senate took up the pending FY’15 supplemental budget, which includes desperately needed funds for family homelessness programs (via Senate Bill 21).

As we reported in our last budget alert, the House had taken up Governor’s $350 million FY’15 supplemental request last week. Among many items needing mid-year increases are the Emergency Assistance family shelter and services program (EA line item 7004-0101) and the HomeBASE homelessness diversion and re-housing program for families (line item 7004-0108). The Governor (via House Bill 60) and the House (via House Bill 65) each included $44.2 million in much-needed funding for EA in their versions of the budget, but if the final supplemental budget includes that amount, the account still will be underfunded by $8 million. Similarly, the HomeBASE program will need an additional $4.0 million to $4.2 million to be able to continue to provide diversion and re-housing resources to eligible families through the end of the fiscal year (June 30, 2015). The Governor proposed adding $300,000 in the supplemental budget for HomeBASE, and the House did not include any funds.

We are grateful that so many of you reached out to your State Senators to advocate for increased funding. In their version of the supplemental budget, the Senate included $51.5 million for Emergency Assistance and $3 million for HomeBASE, much closer to the amounts needed by the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), which oversees these programs.

Now the House and Senate have to work out the differences between the two versions of the supplemental budget. Due to the emergency nature of the supplemental budget, this may happen very quickly. Please reach out to your State Representative as soon as possible to ask her/him to support the Senate’s proposed supplemental appropriations of $51.5 million for Emergency Assistance and $3 million for HomeBASE. See below for a sample script.

State House switchboard: 617-722-2000. Find out who your Representative is here: www.wheredoivotema.com or here: https://malegislature.gov/People/House

In the first half of this fiscal year, the 3,319 families with children entered the Emergency Assistance and HomeBASE programs. Please help us ensure that the doors to EA and HomeBASE remain open for families and children confronting homelessness!

Thank you for your advocacy and partnership!