Working to Prevent and End Homelessness by Increasing Funding for Housing and Protecting Safety Net Programs
- Adequately fund and protect emergency service programs for families and individuals experiencing homelessness and support key line item provisions.
- Increase funding for housing programs serving extremely low-income households.
- Adequately fund and protect key income support programs for low-income families and individuals.
- Address the needs of unaccompanied youth and young adults who are experiencing homelessness by funding housing and wraparound support services (EOHHS Line Items 4000-0007 and 4000-0300).
- Continue to fund the transportation of children and youth experiencing homelessness to decrease the costs to cities and towns (ESE Line Item 7035-0008).
Help Advocate with Your Legislators with and for Bills to Better Serve Families, Youth, and Unaccompanied Adults
1.) Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children Program (EAEDC) bill:
An Act relative to assisting elders and people with disabilities in the Commonwealth
House Bill 529
Lead sponsors: Representative James O’Day and Senator Patricia Jehlen
Fact sheet and legislative page
Online action alert in support of House Bill 529
2.) Bill of rights for people experiencing homelessness:
An Act providing a homeless bill of rights
House Bill 1129
Lead Sponsor: Representative William Smitty Pignatelli
Fact sheet and legislative page
3.) Bill to protect families who are being evicted from subsidized housing or terminated from shelter:
An Act to end child homelessness
House Bill 119
Lead sponsor: Representative Denise Provost
Please Actively Support An Act Providing a Homeless Bill of Rights, House Bill 1129
An Act Providing a Homeless Bill of Rights, House Bill 1129, would establish a definition of those experiencing homelessness and protect key rights of all residents, whether or not they are experiencing homelessness. The bill is modeled after landmark legislation passed in 2012 in Rhode Island. Similar legislation was passed in Connecticut and Illinois.
House Bill 1129 was filed on January 14, 2015 by Representative William Smitty Pignatelli, and was sent to the Joint Committee on Housing on March 10, 2015. The bill was filed last session (House Bill 3595), and was reported out favorably by the Joint Committee on Housing in March 2014, before being sent to study by the Committee on Health Care Financing in July 2014.
Why is it necessary to create a Homeless Bill of Rights?
The Homeless Bill of Rights would entitle those experiencing homelessness to the same rights as any other resident of Massachusetts. The Bill of Rights seeks to outline those rights so as to prevent discrimination based on housing status. The legislation recognizes the increased prevalence of homelessness in Massachusetts due to widespread economic hardship, the insufficient availability of safe, affordable housing, and a weakened social safety net.
“No person’s rights, privileges, or access to public services may be denied or abridged solely because he or she is experiencing homelessness.”
The rights included in the Homeless Bill of Rights are the right to move freely in public spaces, the right to equal treatment by municipal agencies, freedom from discrimination in employment, the right to emergency medical care, the right to register to vote and to vote, freedom from disclosure of records, and the right to a reasonable expectation of privacy of property.
The bill seeks to have the rights outlined to be treated as a statement of legislative intent, as a guide for state and municipal agencies.
Protect the Rights of All Residents of Massachusetts: Support An Act Providing a Homeless Bill of Rights, House Bill 1129!
Click here for the legislative page for the bill.
Please Support House Bill 529, An Act Relative to Assisting Elders and People with Disabilities in the Commonwealth
EAEDC is a state-funded cash assistance and benefits program providing support to approximately 22,000 extremely low-income individuals, administered by the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA).
House Bill 529 would:
- Increase the EAEDC grant
- Remove the shelter reduction/penalty for individuals experiencing homelessness
- Increase the allowable personal asset limit from $250 to $2,500
- Create an annual cost of living adjustment (COLA) for EAEDC program participants
Youth Without Homes Can’t Wait
-Housing: $2.5 million for housing for unaccompanied youth under the Department of Housing and Community Development (new line item, 7004-xxxx)
-Supportive Services: $1.5 million for wraparound services for unaccompanied youth under the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (current EOHHS Administrative line item, 4000-0300 or a new line item, 4000-xxxx), with the complete line item numbers to be assigned by the Legislature.
-These investments would provide funding for the unaccompanied youth homelessness law, An Act promoting housing and support services for unaccompanied homeless youths, to ensure that the new law truly is meaningful for youth without homes.
-The new housing and service resources would be targeted to youth and young adults age 24 and younger who are experiencing homelessness out on their own, outside the custody or care of a parent/guardian.
June 2, 2015 Update: As the budget has made its way through the legislative process, the State Senate has recommended $2 million for housing and services for unaccompanied youth, under new line item 4000-0007. The House also recommended continuing the funding for the work of the Special Commission on Unaccompanied Homeless Youth at $150,000 in the administrative line item for the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (line item 4000-0300). We are asking the FY'16 budget Conference Committee to include both the Senate funding under 4000-0007 and the House funding in line item 4000-0300. See the Coalition's press release here.
** Sign our current online action to your State Representative and State Senator here in support of our Conference Committee requests. **
Expand housing opportunities for people with disabilities
The Alternative Housing Voucher Program (AHVP) provides rental vouchers to applicants with disabilities who are not elderly and who have been determined eligible for Chapter 667 (elderly and disabled) housing. DHCD’s Division of Public Housing and Rental Assistance administers this program.
How It Works:
A tenant will pay either 25 or 30% of their net income to the landlord, depending on whether or not all utilities are included in the rent; and the state’s local housing authority will pay the remainder.
Through September 2014, 420 households were under lease; the line item is funded at $3.55 million. The program was originally funded at $4 million in 1995 to support 800 vouchers! Advocates are seeking a $3.55 million increase, for a total of $7.1 million, in order to restore the original number of vouchers. A shortage of affordable housing continues to beset adults with disabilities, especially people who are forced to reside in nursing homes for a lack of housing.