Category Archives: Advocacy

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More on FY19 Conference Committee Budget

Please see this update from Kelly Turley of the Mass Coalition for the Homeless:

After an extended period of budget negotiations, the FY’19 Budget Conference Committee has completed its work, and has sent their recommendations to the full House and Senate. The $41.88 billion Conference Committee budget, House Bill 4800, incorporates many positive recommendations. Here is a preliminary look at the budget:
·         Senate-proposed funding of $3.3 million for housing and wraparound services for unaccompanied youth and young adults experiencing homelessness (line item 4000-0007), matching the Coalition’s Conference Committee request
·         Senate-proposed language on maintaining the expanded definition of family for the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition homelessness prevention program (RAFT, line item 7004-9316), and $20 million in funding, exceeding the House’s and Senate’s initial recommendations, as well as the Coalition’s request of $18.5 million
·         Senate-proposed language on the Emergency Assistance family shelter and services program to ensure that the Department of Housing and Community Development continues to take in-person applications in the ten cities and towns with offices as of January 1, 2018, as well as Senate-proposed language to protect families that exceed the income eligibility limit for fewer than 90 days from being terminated (EA, line item 7004-0101), matching parts of the Coalition’s Conference Committee request
·         House-proposed language and funding on eliminating the homelessness penalty in the Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children program (EAEDC, line item 4408-1000), so that participants experiencing homelessness will receive the full EAEDC grant: $303.70/month for a household of one, instead of the reduced grant of $92.80/month for a household of one, matching the Coalition’s Conference Committee request
·         House-proposed funding of $100 million on the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP, line item 7004-9024), matching the Coalition’s Conference Committee request
·         Senate-proposed language to increase the maximum benefit under the HomeBASE program (line item 7004-0108) from $8,000/year/family up to $10,000, matching the Coalition’s Conference Committee request
·         House and Senate improvements to the Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children program (TAFDC, line item 403-2000 and Outside Sections): House and Senate language on eliminating the family cap rule, Senate-proposed language on implementing the family cap repeal by January 1, 2019, Senate-proposed language on increasing the annual children’s clothing allowance to $350/child, and House-proposed language to increase the TAFDC asset limit from $2,500 to $5,000.
Unfortunately, the Conference Committee did not include Senate-proposed language to prevent families from having to stay in places not meant for human habitation before being able to access EA. (Related legislation, House Bill 659, still is pending in House Ways and Means.)
Once the Conference Committee budget is approved by both the House and Senate, it will head to Governor Charlie Baker. He will have 10 days to sign the budget and issue any vetoes. With the Legislature scheduled to end formal sessions for this two-year legislative cycle on Tuesday, July 31st, there will not be much time for legislators to override any gubernatorial vetoes, so please reach out to Governor Baker today to ask him to preserve the important investments and budget language listed above. The Governor’s contact information is here: www.mass.gov/orgs/office-of-the-governor.
In addition, please also take a few minutes to thank your State Senator and Representative for their efforts to create a strong budget, and ask them to push for any needed veto overrides. You can look up your elected officials on www.wheredoivotema.com.
Please also thank the Conference Committee members: Senate Ways and Means Chair Karen Spilka, Senate Ways and Means Vice Chair Joan Lovely, Senate Ways and Means Ranking Minority Member Viriato (Vinny) deMacedo, House Ways and Means Chair Jeffrey Sánchez, House Ways and Means Vice Chair Stephen Kulik, and House Ways and Means Ranking Minority Member Todd Smola, as well as Senate President Harriette Chandler and House Speaker Robert DeLeo.

Conference Committee Released its FY19 budget

Below please find information and summary on the FY19 budget from Eric Shupin of CHAPA:

The Conference Committee released its FY2019 Budget. I’ve attached three documents for your review:
  • Overviewof FY2019 Budget Priorities
  • Analysis & Language of FY2019 Budget Priorities
  • Overview of All Housing Program Spending in FY2019 Budget

Our priorities received strong support in the final conference budget – with some programs receiving a higher appropriation than either the House or Senate approved in their budgets!

 
For next steps, we’ll be sending a letter to Governor Baker asking for his support of the budget. However, we expect there will be vetoes. I will share CHAPA’s budget letter with all of you when it is complete.
 
The House and Senate still need to approve the conference budget. If the Legislature approves the conference report today, then the Governor will have 10 days from tomorrow to send back the budget with any vetoes.
According to the House Clerk, it is 10 calendar days, meaning Sundays are included. If the Legislature approves the budget today, the Governor will have until Saturday, July 28th, to issue his veto message and sign the budget into law. The Legislature is not planning to meet on Sunday, July 29th, so they will have two days – July 30th and 31st – to override any vetoes!
Please reach out to the Governor’s office asking him to support the conference budget. Also, please thank Rep. Sánchez and Sen. Spilka, as well as other members of the conference committee and leadership.

Action Alert: Sign petition and call to provide Mass IDs to people experiencing homelessness

ACTION ALERT from the Mass. Coalition for the Homeless:

Please help us push the Massachusetts House of Representatives to ease access to Mass IDs for people experiencing homelessness by signing and sharing our latest call to action to House Speaker Robert DeLeo and House Ways and Means Chair Jeffrey Sánchez. The one-minute online action asks them to strongly support passage of Senate Bill 2568, An Act to provide identification to homeless youth and families. The legislation would eliminate the $25 fee and reduce verification barriers to accessing Massachusetts identification cards by people experiencing homelessness.
The bill unanimously was passed by the Senate on June 28th and was assigned to the House Committee on Ways and Means on July 2nd. The Legislature is scheduled to end formal sessions on July 31st, so your swift action is vital. (The House version of the bill, House Bill 2737, also is awaiting action by the House Ways and Means.)
Why is passing this bill important? Obtaining a state identification card is a critical first step for youth and adults experiencing homelessness to accomplish typical life tasks and access opportunities. ID is required for a broad range of life activities, such as:
·        Applying for jobs
·        Enrolling in education programs
·        Getting a library card
·        Picking up a package from the post office
·        Opening financial accounts
·        Entering certain government buildings
·        Accessing services
·        Interacting with law enforcement
The bill calls on the Registry of Motor Vehicles to waive the $25 fee for Mass IDs for applicants who are experiencing homelessness, and to accept alternative verifications of Massachusetts residency from state agencies and social service agencies.
Special thanks to the lead legislative sponsors, Senate President Harriette Chandler of Worcester and Representative Kay Khan of Newton.
To read more about the #EveryoneNeedsID campaign, please go to www.mahomeless.org/advocacy/item/access-to-mass-id-cards.
As the Conference Committee budget also has not been released yet, our budget action from earlier this week still is active. See below for more details or click here.
Thank you for your collaboration.
With gratitude,
Kelly
Kelly Turley
Associate Director

MCH Conference Committee Call-In Day of Action TODAY!

Please see action alert from Mass Coalition for the Homeless:

Please participate in our Conference Committee call-in day action. We are looking to generate as many calls as possible to the lead budget negotiators, Representative Jeff Sánchez and Senator Karen Spilka. The official call-in day will be today, Monday, June 25th.
When you call, please ask the Chairs to ensure that the Coalition’s Conference Committee priorities on housing and services for youth/young adults experiencing homelessnessEmergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children program, Emergency Assistance (places not meant for human habitation language and application access), Residential Assistance for Families in Transition, and the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program are reflected in their compromise budget.
Representative Jeff Sánchez: 617-722-2990
Senator Karen Spilka: 617-722-1640
To read more about the Coalition’s Conference Committee budget priorities, please follow the links above and click here.
After your call, please email us to let us know you called and to share any feedback.
Thank you!

FY19 Senate Budget Conference Committee Begins Today!

The House and Senate have appointed the conference committee for the FY2019 budget. The committee will hold its first meeting today!  In the House, the conferees are Chairman Sanchez, Rep. Kulik, and Rep. Smola.  In the Senate, the conferees are Chairwoman Spilka, Sen. Lovely and Sen. deMacedo.

CHAPA has provided the conference committee a letter on its budget priorities and a table that provides a quick overview of its requests.

Please use these resources as you reach out to the conference committee and to your own senator and representative to urge them to advocate to the committee for these priorities.

Any questions or comments? Contact Eric Shupin, CHAPA Director of Public Policy, at eshupin@chapa.org or 617-742-0820 ext 103.

Find your legislator here.

Thank you for your advocacy!

$1.8 Billion Housing Bond Bill Signed Into Law!

See below from CHAPA about this great news:

On May 31, Governor Charlie Baker signed the $1.8 billion Housing Bond Bill (H.4536) into law. The legislation, the largest housing bond bill in the state’s history, will increase the production of affordable housing, diversify the state’s housing portfolio, modernize public housing, preserve the affordability of existing housing, and invest in new, innovative solutions to address Massachusetts’ rising demand for housing.

The bill authorizes $1.8 billion in new capital spending over the next five years for the production and preservation of affordable housing for low- to moderate-income households, supportive housing, and housing serving vulnerable populations. It expands tax credit programs that support affordable housing, including the state Low Income Housing Tax Credit, the Community Investment Tax Credit, and the state Historic Tax Credit. It also extends the Brownfields Tax Credit and the Housing Development Incentive Program. Finally, it re-authorizes the Early Education and Out of School Time Fund, which supports quality early education centers for children.

The Governor signed the bill in Brighton at the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg House, a development by Jewish Community Housing for the Elderly. For a copy of his press release, click here.

“The housing bond bill expands opportunities for children, seniors, people with disabilities, and families at risk of homelessness to find safe, healthy, and affordable homes,” said Rachel Heller, chief executive officer of Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association. “This legislation is the result of strong partnerships among advocates, the Legislature, and the Administration who worked together to pass the bill. As one of the first bond bills filed and passed this session, the Housing Bond Bill demonstrates that creating and preserving more affordable housing is a top priority in the Commonwealth.”

CHAPA sincerely thanks the Governor and his administration, including Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, Secretary Jay Ash, and Undersecretary Janelle Chan, the Legislature, and all advocates who helped pass this legislation.

Particularly, thanks to the bill sponsors Rep. Kevin Honan and former Senator Linda Dorcena Forry; Senate President Harriette Chandler; Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo; Housing Committee Co-Chair Senator Joseph Boncore; House Ways and Means Chair Rep. Jeffrey Sánchez; Senate Ways and Means Chair Senator Karen Spilka; House Bonding Committee Chair Rep. Tony Cabral; and Senate Bonding Committee Chair Senator John Keenan.

For more information on the Housing Bond Bill, click here.

More FY19 State Senate Budget Information

From Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance:

The Massachusetts Senate passed a $41.49 billion FY19 Budget after adding $75.5 million through amendments. Among the amendments that were adopted were:

  • An increase to the Homeless Individuals Assistance line item (7004-0102), bringing it to $48,180,000.
  • An increase to the Tenancy Preservation Program line item (7004-3045), bringing it to $1,300,000 (up from $750,000 in House Budget and $500,000 in FY18).
  • An adjustment to RAFT language (7004-9316) to clarify that “not less than $3,000,000 shall be expended to provide assistance to households of all sizes and configurations including, but not limited to, elders, persons with disabilities and unaccompanied youths.” The Senate Ways & Means Budget had used language saying “not more than.”
  • Earmarks for several programs serving homeless individuals in the DHCD administrative line item (7004-0099).

Please click here for a summary of Amendment outcomes.

Final FY19 Senate Budget

The Senate adopted its budget on Friday, May 25.  It adopted many amendments that will positively impact the efforts to end homelessness.  Next up is the Conference Committee, which will hammer out the differences between the Senate and House budgets.  The Committee will likely begin convening within the next week so stay tuned for additional action alerts.

Below are highlights from the Senate budget:

1. The Secure Jobs program was funded at $1 million (up from $650,000).

2.  The ABE/ESOL program was funded at $33 million, up from $31 million.

And this update from Mass Coalition for the Homeless:

Early Friday morning, the State Senate completed the debate on their version of the state’s FY’19 budget. Throughout the three full days of debate, the Senate added many language changes and $75.5 million in additional funding, bringing their recommended budget up to $41.49 billion.
Late last night the Senate unanimously passed the Emergency Assistance amendment, 38-0! See Roll Call #408 above and read more about that amendment and our other two key amendments below.
– Emergency Assistance family shelter program (EA): Senator Barbara L’Italien filed Amendment #533 to ensure that families with children that are experiencing homelessness can file in-person applications for family shelter with staff from the Department of Housing and Community Development in at least the ten cities and towns that had offices as of January 1, 2018. This is in response to efforts to shift to a more telephonically based system/call center model, which would present challenges to many families lacking access to phones, computers, scanners, and fax machines. The amendment would add language to the DHCD administrative line item, 7004-0099, to maintain in-person application sites (in addition to telephonic options).  EA amendment fact sheet
Amendment outcome: We are happy to report that this amendment passedunanimously on a roll call vote! We will work to make sure that the Conference Committee includes the Senate language on maintaining in-person access to Emergency Assistance applications, and will share next steps soon. In the meantime, please thank your Senator for passing it. Special thanks to Senator L’Italien for speaking on the Senate floor about the importance of maintaining statewide in-person access to applications, and to Senate President Harriette Chandler, Senate Ways and Means Chair Karen Spilka, and Senate Ways and Means Vice Chair Joan Lovely for all of their work to pass the amendment.
– Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT): We were thrilled to see that the SWM budget included the full recommended funding for RAFT of $18.5 million, as well as language to maintain access for elders, people with disabilities, and unaccompanied youth. Senator Jamie Eldridge filed Amendment #680 to tweak the language in line item 7004-9316 so that at least $3 million is set aside for households without children under the age of 21, instead of no more than $3 million. RAFT amendment fact sheet
Amendment outcome: We are happy to report that this amendment passed! (It passed on a simple voice vote, not a roll call vote.) We will work to make sure that the Conference Committee includes the Senate language and funding for RAFT, and will share next steps soon. In the meantime, please thank your Senator for passing it. Special thanks to Senator Eldridge for speaking on the Senate floor on the critical need to expand access to and funding for homelessness prevention resources for individuals, and to Senate Leadership for their work to pass the amendment.
– Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children program (EAEDC): Senator Pat Jehlen filed Amendment #453 to remove the EAEDC homelessness penalty so that participants experiencing homelessness receive full monthly grants of $303.70/month instead of only $92.80/month. Based on FY’18 numbers year-to-date, an estimated 542 individuals would benefit each month from this change, at a cost of only $1.4 million/year. The amendment would add language to line item 4408-1000. EAEDC amendment fact sheet
Amendment outcome: Unfortunately, this amendment was rejected, but the language still is alive for the Conference Committee deliberations, as it was included in the House version of the budget. We will share next steps soon. Please thank your Senator if they are listed in the amendment link above as a cosponsor. Special thanks to Senator Jehlen for strenuously advocating for the amendment and related EAEDC bill, Senate Bill 2039.
The State House switchboard number is 617-722-2000. You also can look up who your Senator is via www.wheredoivotema.com.
Our Senate amendment page has more details.