Category Archives: Advocacy

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Action Alert: Senate Budget Advocacy This Week!

This week, until Friday 12 noon, is the time to contact our senators to request their co-sponsorship of Senate budget amendments.  Your call or email as an agency and your call as a constituent matter greatly.
A sample email or calling script is below for your convenience. 

Find your State Senator’s contact information.

Western MA Network to End Homelessness’ Priority Senate Budget Amendments:

#715 – Mass. Rental Voucher Program (MRVP), filed by Senator Brendan Crighton with Senator Jim Welchto fund MRVP at $130 million
#797 – RAFT, filed by Senator Patricia Jehlen with Senator Jim Welch to increase funding to $27 million to create a rent arrearage pilot program to prevent evictions
#860 – Homeless Individuals Assistance, filed by Senator Joseph Boncore to fund individual emergency shelters at $53.35 million, especially critical to keep Western MA shelters sufficiently funded
#831 – Housing Consumer Education Centers (HCECs), filed by Senator Brendan Crighton to fund HCECs at $4 million
#1136 – Regional Transit Authorities, filed by Senator Harriet Chandler with Senator Jim Welch to provide $90.5 million in base funding, the level recommended in the RTA Task Force Report 
#840  – Mass Hire One Stop Career Centers, filed by Senator Donald Humason to fund Career Centers at $6.5 million
#464 – Mass ID Access, filed by Senator Harriet Chandler with Senator Jim Welch to allow people experiencing homelessness to obtain a Mass ID through provider verification and without a fee
#815 – Berkshire Winter Overflow Shelter, filed bySenator Adam Hinds to provide $150,000 in emergency winter shelter funds for Berkshire County  
#731- Western MA Network to End Homelessness, filed by Senator Jo Comerford with Senators Gobi, Humason, Lesser and Welch, to fund the Network at $75,000

Sample email/call scriptDear Senator [insert name] [if calling: Hi, my name is ___ and I’m calling from ___ (city/town) from the Senator’s district – talking to whoever answers the phone is fine!]
First, thank you for your support to prevent and end homelessness in Western MA.  Your support is greatly appreciated!
I am writing now to ask you to co-sponsor the following amendments to the Senate budget [copy and insert the Amendment list above or read over the phone].

IMPORTANT NOTE: Please note if you are writing one of the Senators already supportive of the amendment, e.g., Senator Jim Welch from Springfield who has already signed on to many amendments, ideally you would adapt your email to say “thanks so much for your support of so many of these Amendments.”  Note also where Senator Humason supports Career Centers and almost all our Senators support the Network funding amendment.  Just add a quick note of thanks to the relevant amendments, depending on who you are writing or calling.

Legislator contact makes a HUGE difference.  Please take 5 minutes to make our collective Network voices heard.

To learn more about other important statewide advocacy efforts, please see:
CHAPA update
Mass Coalition for the Homeless Update

The Senate will begin debate on its budget early the week of May 20. Please contact your senator this week and we’ll be in touch next week.

Thanks for your partnership!

Network Priorities and the Senate Ways and Means Budget

There is a lot of good news in the Senate Ways and Means Committee’s proposed budget that was released this week. Click here for a breakdown of the budget in relation to Network priorities.

The good news:
* Unaccompanied homeless youth was funded at the requested $5 million, an increase of $1.7 million from last year as well as the Governor’s and House budgets.
* Secure Jobs Initiative received $2 million, doubling its funding relative to last year and the Governor’s and House budgets.
*Alternative Housing Voucher Program (AHVP) was funded at $8 million, an almost $2 million increase, from FY19 (this program is key for housing chronically homeless individuals), higher than the Governor’s and House budgets.
* Mass Rental Voucher Program (MRVP) was funded at $110 million, same as the House budget and up from level funding by the Governor (although we are seeking $130 million so an Amendment to come), and language was also added to adjust rent levels to be consistent with the Fair Market Rent (BIG progress!).
* Adult Basic Education/ESOL was funded at the Network (and Statewide ABE Coalition’s) request of $38.1 million, up from $33.35 million in FY19, more or less consistent with the House’s FY20 budget and up from the Governor’s FY20 budget of $37.6 million.

The not good news (for now):
* Homeless Individuals Assistance line-item (funds emergency shelters) received $5 million less than the House budget, down to $48.3 million from $53.3 million, and just barely over the FY19 level.
* Regional Transit Authorities, while funded at $90.5 million – the requested amount – would have $4 million of that total be performance-based and awarded at the discretion of the MassDOT. As the funding allocation currently stands, the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority would suffer a $1 million deficit in FY20.
*MassHire Career Centers were funded at $3.96 million, a decrease from FY19’s level of $4.06 million, up against significant federal cuts (the FY20 state request was at $6 million).

Regional earmarks:
* An amendment will be filed by Senator Adam Hinds to fund the Berkshire Regional Winter Overflow Shelter at $150,000.
* An amendment will be filed by Senator Jo Comerford to fund the Western MA Network to End Homelessness at $75,000.
* An amendment will be filed by Senator Jo Comerford to explicitly attach Craig’s Doors shelter to funding that is likely to be maintained in the budget (already explicitly included in the Governor’s budget).

Amendments must be filed by noon today, May 10, and co-sponsors can sign-on in support of Amendments up until Senate debate begins the week of May 20.

Please stay tuned for further advocacy updates early next week.

Senate Ways and Means Budget Released Yesterday

Thanks to CHAPA for this preliminary update below regarding many of the Network priorities. Stay tuned for more detail tomorrow!

The Senate Ways and Means (SWM) Committee’s proposed budget provided increased funding for MRVP, AHVP, Public Housing, and housing and services for Unaccompanied Homeless Youth. The budget also increased fair market rent levels for mobile MRVP vouchers to current FMRs. Most other housing programs were level funded.

For more information on the SWM budget, click here.

For an analysis of language changes in the SWM budget, click here.

FY20 House Budget and Network Priorities

Last week, the MA House of Representatives finalized its proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2020. The Network’s own FY20 priorities fared with mixed results. On the plus side, we saw increases in funding in the Homeless Individuals Assistance (emergency shelters), Housing Consumer Education Centers, the Alternative Housing Voucher Program (important housing subsidy for chronically homeless individuals), and the Mass Rental Voucher Program, as well as continued funding for Craig’s Doors shelter in Amherst.

On the minus side, the Network itself did not get funded, nor did the Berkshire Winter Overflow Shelter. Career Centers saw a reduction compared to FY19 funding. Click here for the comparative breakdown of the Network priorities in relation to the House and Governor’s budgets.

Next up is the Senate! The Senate Ways and Means Committee will likely release its proposed budget the week of May 6 with debate likely to take place the week of May 20. Please stay tuned for additional updates and opportunities for advocacy.

Meanwhile, please reach out to your Western MA Representative to thank them for their advocacy. We have a great team working for us out here!

CHAPA’s FY20 Budget Update

Note: The Network will provide an update on House Budget outcomes for its complete list of FY20 priorities within the next couple of days. For now, we are pleased to offer you this update from CHAPA, which includes many of the Network’s priorities as well:

Last week, the Massachusetts House of Representatives concluded debate on its FY2020 state budget. For a table showing the final funding amounts in the House Budget for CHAPA’s budget priorities, click here. During budget debate, the House approved additional funding for two programs:

Alternative Housing Voucher Program (AHVP) (7004-9030) – The House approved $400,000 more for AHVP, for a total of $7,550,000 for the program in the House budget, through an amendment sponsored by Rep. Decker.

Housing Consumer Education Centers (HCECs) (7004-3036) – The House approved $250,000 more for HCECs, for a total of $375,000 for the program in the House budget, through an amendment sponsored by Rep. Honan.

Thank you for all your advocacy during the budget debate! We gathered many co-sponsors, demonstrating broad support for these affordable housing and homelessness prevention programs. For a final look at the outcome of CHAPA’s amendment priorities, including the number of co-sponsors, please click here. If you can, please reach out to thank Speaker DeLeo, Rep. Michlewitz, Rep. Honan, Rep. Decker, and all amendment sponsors.

SAVE THE DATE – Wednesday, May 8th, 3:00-4:30 p.m.

We’ve heard that Senate Ways & Means may release its budget the week of May 6th. Amendments would be due by the end of that week with budget debate still scheduled for the week of May 20th. This would give the Senate a full week to consider amendments.

If that is the case, please hold Wednesday, May 8th, 3:00-4:30 p.m., for our next Building Blocks Meeting to discuss the Senate Ways & Means budget and amendment strategy. The meeting will be hosted at CHAPA.

DHCD: Fair Housing Hearing – 4/23 in Springfield; 4/29 in Boston

Apologies for the late posting but an important FYI in case you can attend:

NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARINGS:
ANALYSIS OF IMPEDIMENTS TO FAIR HOUSING CHOICE
THE MA DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND COMMUNITY
DEVELOPMENT NEEDS YOUR INPUT

Come share your views on the Commonwealth’s 2019 draft Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice (“AI”). We want to hear from you about issues such as:
 Racial and ethnic segregation, including segregated, concentrated areas of poverty
 Gentrification and displacement of residents from their communities
 Access to communities with high quality schools, good jobs, and public
transportation
 Access barriers for people with disabilities
 Fair housing enforcement
 Particular housing challenges faced by families with children, voucher holders,
persons with disabilities, and
 Other fair housing issues that are important to you

DHCD has posted its draft AI, available at http://www.mass.gov/dhcd, and will hold the following PUBLIC HEARINGS on the draft AI:

April 23, 2019, 12:00 PM-2:00 PM.
UMass Center at Springfield,
Suite 260, Classroom UMCS-004
1500 Main Street, Springfield, MA 01115

April 29, 2019, 5:00 PM-7:00 PM.
Boston Planning and Development
Agency, 9th Floor Board Room
1 City Hall Square, Boston, MA 02201

For reasonable accommodations at the public hearings, please contact (617) 573-1100 (TTY 617-573-1140), or email margaux.leclair@mass.gov. Remote CART services will be provided.

Written comments may also be sent to 100 Cambridge Street, Suite 300, Boston, MA, 02114, Attn: Office of the General Counsel, or submitted online at www.mass.gov/dhcdhttp://www.mass.gov/dhcd (direct link https://massgov.formstack.com/forms/dhcdai), by May 29, 2019)

House budget amendments: ask your legislator to co-sponsor!

This week, our State Representatives will be deciding which House budget amendments to co-sponsor. This is our opportunity to advocate for their support of our key priorities (for contact info on your state legislator, go here). In partnership with our statewide advocacy partners, CHAPA, Mass Coalition for the Homeless and Homes for Families, the Network’s priority amendments are key to moving us forward in our effort to prevent and end homelessness.

Please contact your Representative to request their co-sponsorship of the following Amendments:

#401 – Mass Rental Voucher Program (MRVP) filed byRepresentative Paul Donato to increasing funding to $130 million to provide approximately 700 new vouchers.

#859 – MRVP filed by Representative Joe McGonagle to raise the Fair Market Rent levels from 2005 to current standards. 

#1127 – Rent Arrearage Assistance Program (RAAP)  filed by  Representative Marjorie Decker to create a $7 million upstream homelessness prevention pilot program within RAFT. 

#883 – Youth homelessness filed by Representative Jim O’Day to increase funding to $5 million for housing and wraparound services for unaccompanied youth and young adults experiencing homelessness. 

#682 – Secure Jobs filed by Representative Paul Brodeur to increase funding to $2 million to provide workforce development support for homeless families and individuals. 

#40 – Housing Consumer Education Centers Amendment filed by Representative Kevin Honan to increase HCEC funding to $4 million. 

#765 – Mass ID access filed by Representative Kay Khan to create a new outside section of the budget to ease access to standard Mass IDs for people experiencing homelessness. 

#1318 Craig’s Doors Emergency Shelter filed by Representative Mindy Domb to ensure that $175,000 of the emergency shelter line-item is allocated to this Amherst shelter, the only behavior-based shelter in Hampshire County, which serves individuals from Hampden and Franklin Counties as well.

#195 – Berkshire Winter Overflow Shelter Services  filed by Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier for $150,000 to provide critical winter emergency shelter services in Berkshire County. 

#1345 – Western MA Network to End Homelessness Amendmentfiled by Representative Lindsay Sabadosa to continue $125,000 in funding for the Network and its collective impact efforts.  

Thanks for your advocacy!

House Budget Amendment Advocacy!

The FY20 House Budget is out and amendments are rapidly being filed (must file by 5 pm today) and the Network is asking you to contact your legislators to request their co-sponsorship of the following amendments (filing deadline is today but they have until end of next week to sign on as a co-sponsor). Contact your legislators ASAP by email or phone (go here to find your contact info). You can relay the information below to your legislator about how to sign on. Thanks for your advocacy!

The MRVP Amendment #401 (7004-9024) filed by Representative Paul Donato to fund MRVP at $130 million (House Ways and Means – HWM) proposed $110 million).
Please sign on directly online.

The MRVP Amendment (7004-9024) filed by Representative Joe McGonagle to raise the Fair Market Rent levels from 2005 to current standards. Please sign on directly on line.


Rent Arrearage Assistance Program (RAAP) (7004-9316) Amendment filed by  Representative Marjorie Decker to create a $7 million upstream homelessness prevention pilot program within RAFT. Please sign on by contacting Akriti Bhambi in Rep. Decker’s office at akriti.bhambi@mahouse.gov.


Youth homelessness amendment (4000-0007) filed by Representative Jim O’Day to increase funding to $5 million for housing and wraparound services for unaccompanied youth and young adults experiencing homelessness (HWM funded at $3.3m). Please sign on by contacting Alexis Foley in Rep. O’Day’s office at alexis.foley@mahouse.gov.

Secure Jobs amendment (4400-1020) to increase funding to $2 million (HWM funded at $1 million) filed by Representative Paul Brodeur. Please sign on by contacting Patrick Prendergrast at patrick.prendergast@mahouse.gov.

Housing Consumer Education Centers (7004-3036) filed by Representative Kevin Honan to increase HCEC funding from $3.5 million to $4 million. Please sign on by contacting Kelly Malon in Rep. Honan’s office at kelly.mallon@mahouse.gov 

Berkshire Winter Overflow Shelter Services (7004-0102) filed by Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier to provide $150,000 for critical winter emergency shelter services in Berkshire County. 

The Western MA Network to End Homelessness Amendment (7004-0102) filed by Representative Lindsay Sabadosa to continue to fund the Network at $125,000 this year. Contact Rep. Sabadosa at Lindsay.Sabadosa@mahouse.gov.