Advocacy

FY 2016 (9)

FY 2015 (4)

It's Time for the Annual TAFDC Children's Clothing Allowance

It's Time for the Annual TAFDC Children's Clothing Allowance

Posted August 22, 2016

Good news for families participating in the Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC) program: For the month of September, the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) is once again increasing the income eligibility limits and payment standards for the TAFDC program. This increase in the payment standard is known as the children's clothing allowance, and occurs only for September.

On August 30th, families already participating in the TAFDC program will receive an additional $250/eligible child-- an increase of $50/child over last year and $100/child over the the long-standing benefit level! Families who apply before the end of September and are approved will receive the full clothing allowance benefit in the fall.

Who Is Eligible to Receive the Clothing Allowance?
Families can receive a clothing allowance of $250 for each child currently receiving TAFDC benefits or eligible to receive benefits. 

Ineligible children include children who are:  
     - Age 19 and older;

     - Subject to the family cap rule;

     - Receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI); and/or

     - Are undocumented immigrants.

TAFDC Income Eligibility Limit Increase: Benefits Extended to Some Working Families Not Receiving TAFDC
The TAFDC income eligibility limits have increased for September; the amount of the increase depends on the number of applicants or recipients under age 19 in the household. (The eligibility standards also have increased this month based on the number of eligible applicants or recipients under age 19.)

This means that many low-income working families that normally are income-ineligible for TAFDC benefits will become eligible for theclothing allowance. Although these families will not receive cash benefits, they may be able to receive one year of MassHealth benefits and subsidized child care, in addition to the clothing allowance. 

How Are Benefits Paid?
Families already enrolled in TAFDC automatically will receive the clothing allowance payment for each eligible child on August 30th. For families who are eligible for all or part of September and are approved after August 30th, the clothing allowance payment will be made in the fall. Unlike previous years, this year DTA will provide the full $250/child clothing allowance, even if the familly applies after September 1st or only is eligible for part of the month. (The benefit will not be prorated.)

Impact on SNAP Benefits
The clothing allowance benefit is considered income under Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, a.k.a. Food Stamp) rules. As with other increases in income, the receipt of the clothing allowance can lead to a temporary decrease in SNAP benefits for some families. 

For more information, please contact your local DTA office











Key Housing and Homelessness Override Votes for the FY'17 State Budget

Key Housing and Homelessness Override Votes for the FY'17 State Budget

Veto Override Votes

Originally posted July 31, 2016; updated August 1, 2016:

With just minutes to go until the end of formal legislative sessions for this biennial cycle, the House and Senate passed key housing and homelessness prevention veto overrides. Today's votes followed on last Saturday's vote to override the Governor's veto to the Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children program (TAFDC). Please contact your State Representative and State Senator to thank them for their important work. (State House switchboard: 617-722-2000; additional contact information via www.wheredoivotema.com)  

Extra special thanks to some of the key legislators behind these victories: Representative Marjorie Decker, Representative Kevin Honan, Representative Byron Rushing, Senator Linda Dorcena Forry, Senator Harriette Chandler, and Senator Jamie Eldridge and to Leadership: Senate President Stan Rosenberg, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Senate Ways and Means Chair Karen Spilka, and House Ways and Means Chair Brian Dempsey.

  • Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT, line item 7004-9316): The Governor maintained the Legislature's $13 million appropriation, but vetoed language that would open access to RAFT to elders, people with disabilities, unaccompanied youth, and households without children under the age of 21. Today's override means that RAFT eligibility will be expanded. We will work with the Department of Housing and Community Development and other stakeholders on implementation.
  • Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP, line item 7004-9024): The Governor cut MRVP funding from $85.3 million to $82.9 million. The Legislature added back the $2.4 million to the line item.
    • Status: Overridden on Sunday, July 31st!
    • Votes: House 142-15 and Senate 36-3
  • Public Housing Operating Subsidies (line item 7004-9005): The Governor cut public housing operating subsidies from $65 million to $64.5 million. The Legislature restored the $500,000 to the line item.
    • Status: Overridden on Sunday, July 31st!
    • Votes: House 146-12 and Senate 36-3
  • Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC, line item 4403-2000): The Governor vetoed language in this line item that would have prevented the Department of Transitional Assistance from being able to count Supplemental Security Income when calculating TAFDC benefits for families with one or more members living with a disability. This could have led to over 8,500 families having their TAFDC benefits eliminated or greatly reduced. He also vetoed language that would have increased the TAFDC annual clothing allowance to $250 per eligible child (the Governor replaced that figure with the FY'16-level benefit of $200/child). This means that the Governor will not be able to move ahead to limit acesss to TAFDC benefits and that the clothing allowance will increase in September. The override also adds back $23.6 million to the line item.

Veto override votes 7-31-16

Looking Ahead to Informal Sessions:

While the 189th General Court is about to end formal sessions, the Legislature will continue to meet in informal sessions until early January, when the next two-year legislative cycle will get underway. During informal sessions, the Legislature can move forward non-controversial legislation. If one legislator objects to an item moving forward, a bill can be derailed during informal sessions; sometimes the objections are related to the cost of implementing the legislation.

We are hopeful that the bill of rights for people experiencing homelessness, House Bill 1129, can move forward during this period. We also will be looking to move ahead lower cost portions of the EAEDC bill, House Bill 529 to improve the Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children program, as a redrafted bill or as part of the FY'17 supplemental budget request. (For example, we estimate that it would cost $1.8 million/year to implement section 1 of the EAEDC bill, which would allow participants who are experiencing homelessness to receive full grants. Currently, participants without housing costs have their grants reduced from an average of $303.70/month to only $92.80/month.)

As noted in our previous post, there are two pending supplemental budgets related to homelessness, housing, and cash assistance, which have been submitted to the Legislature by the Governor.
 One supplemental budget, House Bill 4506, is to address anticipated FY'17 budget shortfalls, and includes requests for $26.0 million more to support Emergency Assistance (EA) family shelter and homelessness services (line item 7004-0101), $2.5 million more for HomeBASE (line item 7004-0108), and $1.9 million more for Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children Program benefits (EAEDC, line item 4408-1000).

Another request is to close out FY'16, House Bill 4517, and includes requests for $1 million for the unaccompanied youth homelessness line item (line item 4000-0007), $3.6 million for MRVP (line item 7004-9316), and $1 million for the End Family Homelessness Reserve Fund (line item 1599-0017) .

** Once again, please thank your legislators for supporting the override requests. Please also ask them to support House Bill 1129, House Bill 529, and supplemental budget requests during the informal sessions. You can reach your legislators by calling the State House switchboard at 617-722-2000 or you can find additional contact information here: www.wheredoivotema.com. **
It's Time to Ask Your Legislators to Override the Governor's Budget Vetoes!

It's Time to Ask Your Legislators to Override the Governor's Budget Vetoes!

Originally posted July 11, 2016; last updated July 31, 2016:

On Friday, the Governor issued his fiscal year 2017 budget vetoes, which included cutting out the RAFT expansion language and other priority funding/language we have been promoting since last fall. Please help us push the Legislature to take up override votes. In order to overturn a particular veto, 2/3 of the members in both the House and the Senate must vote in favor of that override. Veto overrides must start in the House. As formal legislative sessions will end for this biennial cycle on July 31st, time is short.

Key vetoes of concern:

  • Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT, line item 7004-9316): The Governor maintained the Legislature's $13 million appropriation, but vetoed language that would open access to RAFT to elders, people with disabilities, unaccompanied youth, and households without children under the age of 21. RAFT override fact sheetCoalition's letter from last week to the Governor on the importance of this language; testimonies in support of the RAFT override
  • Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC, line item 4403-2000): The Governor vetoed language in this line item that would have prevented the Department of Transitional Assistance from being able to count Supplemental Security Income when calculating TAFDC benefits for families with one or more members living with a disability. This could lead to over 8,500 families having their TAFDC benefits eliminated or greatly reduced. He also vetoed language that would have increased the TAFDC annual clothing allowance to $250 per eligible child (the Governor replaced that figure with the FY'16-level benefit of $200/child). TAFDC-SSI override fact sheet 
    • Update: Great news! The House and Senate overrode the Governor's veto on July 23rd! This means that the Governor will not be able to move ahead to limit acesss to TAFDC benefits and that the clothing allowance will increase in September. The override also adds back $23.6 million to the line item.
  • Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP, line item 7004-9024): The Governor cut MRVP funding from $85.3 million to $82.9 million.
  • Public Housing Operating Subsidies (line item 7004-9005): The Governor cut public housing operating subsidies from $65 million to $64.5 million.
Its Time to Stand Up for Housing 1

Good news update on Emergency Assistance (EA, line item 7004-0101): The state's budget website has been updated to reflect that the Governor did not veto language that would have required the Administration to provide 90 days advanced notice before implementing eligibilty changes and benefits reductions within this program that provides shelter and support services to families with children experiencing homelessness.

In better news, however, the Governor also submitted multiple supplemental budgets to the Legislature. One supplemental budget, House Bill 4506, is to address anticipated FY'17 budget shortfalls, and includes requests for $26.0 million more to support Emergency Assistance (EA) family shelter and homelessness services (line item 7004-0101), $2.5 million more for HomeBASE (line item 7004-0108), and $1.9 million more for Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children Program benefits (EAEDC, line item 4408-1000).

Another request is to close out FY'16, House Bill 4517, and includes requests for $1 million for the unaccompanied youth homelessness line item (line item 4000-0007), $3.6 million for MRVP (line item 7004-9316), and $1 million for the End Family Homelessness Reserve Fund (line item 1599-0017) .

** Please ask your legislators to support both the override requests and the supplemental budget requests. You can reach your legislators by calling the State House switchboard at 617-722-2000 or find additional contact information here: www.wheredoivotema.com. **

State House Call-In Day on Legislation to Promote Dignity for People Experiencing Homelessness and Poverty: House Bills 529 + 1129

State House Call-In Day on Legislation to Promote Dignity for People Experiencing Homelessness and Poverty: House Bills 529 + 1129

Take Action Today to Help Pass House BIlls 529 and 1129!

July 17, 2016

Thank you for helping to promote last week's legislative briefing on the Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children program and the campaign to establish a bill of rights for people experiencing homelessness. The event focused on House Bill 529, An Act relative to assisting elders in the Commonwealth (fact sheet), and House Bill 1129, An Act providing a homeless bill of rights (fact sheet). Both bills are awaiting action by House Ways and Means. This week we need your help to make our State House call-in day on these two bills a success. 

Please make two calls today or tomorrow: One to House Speaker Robert DeLeo and one to House Ways and Means Chairman Brian Dempsey. Let them know that you stand with the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless and you would like to see them take action to pass House Bills 529 and 1129.
  • Speaker DeLeo can be reached at 617-722-2500. You also can tweet him a message: @SpeakerDeLeo
  • Chairman Dempsey can be reached at 617-722-2990.
Need some inspriation before making your calls? Read moving testimonies from Cochise W. of Rosie's Place (on the Coalition's blog) and Christine Ciulla, whose poetry recently was featured on the Coalition's blog and whose personal story was featured in Spare Change News. Here is the Coalition's press release on the call-in day and briefing.
legislative briefing on House Bills 529 and 1129 7-14-16-page-001 1

legislative briefing on House Bills 529 and 1129 7-14-16-page-002
For more details or to share feedback from your outreach, please contact Kelly Turley: kelly (at) mahomeless.org or 781-595-7570 x17. 

Thank you!

briefing on h529  1129

 
State House Briefing on Legislation to Promote Dignity for People Experiencing Homelessness and Poverty: House Bills 529 + 1129

State House Briefing on Legislation to Promote Dignity for People Experiencing Homelessness and Poverty: House Bills 529 + 1129

Please invite your State Representative and Senator to join the Coalition and our legislative hosts, Representative Jim O'Day, Representative William Smitty Pignatelli, and Senator Pat Jehlen, for a legislative briefing on House Bill 529, An Act relative to assisting elders in the Commonwealth (fact sheet), and House Bill 1129, An Act providing a homeless bill of rights (fact sheet). Both bills are awaiting action by House Ways and Means. The event will take place on Thursday, July 14th from 11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. at the State House in the House Members Lounge.

Speakers will include our legislative hosts, Christine Ciulla, whose poetry recently was featured on the Coalition's blog and whose personal story was featured in Spare Change News, and Cochise W. of Rosie's Place.

Find your legislators contact information by going to www.wheredoivotema.com or calling the State House switchboard at 617-722-2000.

Legislative offices can RSVP by completing this brief form, emailing Kelly: kelly (at) mahomeless.org, or calling 781-595-7570 x17.

Thank you!

Pass House Bills 529  1129
Happy New Fiscal Year! FY'17 Conference Committee Budget Outcomes

Happy New Fiscal Year! FY'17 Conference Committee Budget Outcomes

Happy New Fiscal Year!
FY'17 Conference Committee Budget Outcomes for Key Housing and Homelessness Programs

Initially posted July 1, 2016

Yesterday, the House and Senate adopted House Bill 4450, the Conference Committee's budget recommendations for the new fiscal year that begins today. With the projections for state revenues decreasing over the past few weeks (with estimates ranging from $450 million - $950 million less than anticipated), the Legislature's Joint Conference Committee on the FY'17 budget engaged in difficult deliberations to work out the differences between the House and Senate proposed budgets for the year ahead. The compromise budget now has been sent to Governor Charlie Baker for his signature and line item vetoes. The Governor has 10 days to review the budget.

Thank you to everyone who weighed in with support for the Coalition's top priorities and full priority list with their own legislators and this year's six budget conferees*.

One highlight from the Conference Committee budget is an increase of $500,000 for the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) homelessness prevention program, which is set to be funded at $13 million for FY'17. The Legislature included an important change that now will expand access to these critical homelessness prevention funds beyond just families with children under the age of 21 to include households of all sizes and configurations, including elders, unaccompanied youth, and people with disabilities. Until now, households without minor children have had very limited access to prevention resources from the state, which has led to increased evictions and foreclosures, heightened housing instability, and longer stays in homelessness. We are hopeful that with expanded access to RAFT and the allocation of increased funding, the state can continue to build out a network of homelessness prevention funding and housing stabilization services to help households avoid homelessness altogether when possible and greatly decrease how long families of all types spend without safe, permanent housing. 

Here are the outcomes for our top three priorities: 
  • Expanding access to the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) homelessness prevention program: For the Conference Committee phase of the budget process, we were asking Legislators to support the Senate version of the RAFT line item (7004-9316), which would provide $13 million for the program. The Senate language would expand the definition of family to include elders, people with disabilities, unaccompanied youth, and other household types and add $500,000 to serve these households, while retaining level funding of $12.5 million for families with children under the age of 21. The RAFT Conference Committee fact sheet and one-minute online action are here.
    • Outcome: The Conference Committee budget includes $13 million for RAFT and language clarifying that "family" includes households of all sizes and configurations! While the language does not match the Senate version, we will work with the Department of Housing and Community Development, RAFT providers, and advocates on an equitable implementation of the expanded RAFT program.
  • Allowing families to access Emergency Assistance (EA) family shelter before they are forced to stay in places not meant for human habitation: For the Conference Committee phase of the budget process, we were asking Legislators to support the Senate version of the EA line item (7004-0101), which would allow otherwise eligible families to enter EA without having to prove that they already have stayed in an emergency room, car, campground, etc. The Emergency Assistance Conference Committee fact sheet is here. The recent front page Boston Globe coverage of the EA budget debate is here.
    • Outcome: Unfortunately, the Conference Committee budget did not include key language to ensure that families do not have to first stay in places not meant for human habitation before accessing EA shelter. As the budget deliberations continued, the Baker Administration issued revised cost estimates for the language change. While we believe that the change would cost less than $300,000/year, the Administration cited inflated potential costs of $40.8 million - $54 million, which made the House conferees more reticent to accept the Senate language. We proposed compromise language that would have capped the potential expenses at $500,000, but given the intense need for conferees to find cost savings, this also was not included. The Conference Committee did include Senate language to require the Administration to provide 90 days advanced notice before implementing any benefits reductions or eligibility restrictions in the EA program. (The House initially proposed 60 days advanced notice.)
  • Funding housing and services for unaccompanied youth and young adults at at least $2 million: For the Conference Committee phase of the budget process, we were asking legislators to support the Senate version of the unaccompanied youth line item (4000-0007), which was $1 million more than the House version. The unaccompanied youth Conference Committee fact sheet is here.
    • Outcome: The Conference Committee included the House funding level of $1 million for housing and services for unaccompanied youth and young adults, and the Senate version of the line item language requiring the Executive Office of Health and Human Services to track and report on a number of data points, including how many young people:
      • Are served by the programs funded under the line item and the services young people receive
      • Transition into stable housing and the zip codes of that housing
      • Stay in stable housing for at least 90 days
      • Are denied services
** Please join us in asking Governor Charlie Baker to retain the positive elements of the FY'17 budget, and avoid vetoing key language and funding. The Governor's office can be reached via the contact information listed here. Our letter to the Governor is here (PDF) and below:

mch letter budget letter 7-5-16-page-001

This page will be updated shortly with even more budget details. Stay tuned!

* This year's six budget conferees were: Representatives Brian Dempsey (D-Haverhill, Chair of House Ways and Means), Stephen Kulik (D-Worthington, Vice Chair of House Ways and Means), and Todd Smola (R-Warren, Minority Member of House Ways and Means) and Senators Karen Spilka (D-Ashland, Chair of Senate Ways and Means), Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett, Vice Chair of Senate Ways and Mean), and Vinny deMacedo (R-Plymouth, Minority Member of Senate Ways and Means).

Update, July 11, 2016: On Friday, the Governor issued his vetoes, which included cutting out the RAFT expansion language. We will be sending out an action alert shortly. In better news, the Governor also submitted a supplemental budget to the Legislature. It includes requests for $26.0 million more to support Emergency Assistance (EA) family shelter and homelessness services, $2.5 million more for HomeBASE + $1.9 million more for Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children Program (EAEDC) benefits. Please ask your legislators to support these requests: www.wheredoivotema.com


In the Homestretch: Help Shape the FY'17 Conference Committee Budget! Advocate with Us for Housing and Homelessness Programs

In the Homestretch: Help Shape the FY'17 Conference Committee Budget! Advocate with Us for Housing and Homelessness Programs

In the Homestretch: Help Shape the FY'17 Conference Committee Budget!
Advocate with Us for Housing and Homelessness Programs

Initially posted June 2, 2016

Though the Senate and House both have gone through their initial budget recommendation and debate processes for fiscal year 2017 we're not done yet! After the Senate's adoption of its version of the FY'17 budget on May 26th, we have now moved to the next phase of the budget process: Conference Committee. 

Once the House and the Senate vote on their respective budgets, each branch appoints three members to a joint committee (the "Conference Committee") to work out and resolve all differences between the two budgets. The compromise budget that comes out of Conference Committee is then brought to the House and Senate members for a final vote before being sent to the Governor.

This year's House Conference Committee members are Representatives Brian Dempsey (D-Haverhill, Chair of House Ways and Means), Stephen Kulik (D-Worthington, Vice Chair of House Ways and Means), and Todd Smola (R-Warren, Minority Member of House Ways and Means). The Senate Conference Committee members are Senators Karen Spilka (D-Ashland, Chair of Senate Ways and Means), Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett, Vice Chair of Senate Ways and Mean), and Vinny deMacedo (R-Plymouth, Minority Member of Senate Ways and Means). 

In order to ensure that the Conference Committee's budget has the best language and highest levels of funding possible for housing and homelessness issues, we need you to help urge the committee members to create a compromise budget that prioritizes these programs. We will update this page shortly, so you can contact your own legislators and ask them to convey their support to the Conference Committee and to Leadership for the language and funding levels to be detailed in our upcoming Conference Committee letter. Read our letter to the conferees here, outlining our complete Conference Committee priorities, and our preliminary action alert and follow-up alert. See below for more details on our top three priorities.

Top priorities:

raft advocacy image
Advocate Along with Us to Improve the Senate Version of the FY'17 State Budget

Advocate Along with Us to Improve the Senate Version of the FY'17 State Budget

Support key amendments to the Senate Ways and Means budget recommendations

(Initially posted May 17, 2016)

Today, the Senate Committee on Ways and Means ("SWM" or "Senate Ways and Means") unveiled its fiscal year 2017 budget recommendations for the Commonwealth, with the theme of building "resilient children, families, and communities". This $39.5 billion budget marks the next step on the path to developing the state budget for the fiscal year that will begin on July 1st. Thursday afternoon at 5 p.m. (Thursday, May 19th) will be the deadline for Senate members to file amendments to the SWM budget, with the Senate budget debate scheduled to begin next Tuesday, May 24th.

Read our Senate Ways and Means budget action alert: web version and PDF.

As this is only the next of several proposals on the way to the final FY'17 budget, your voice will be critical to helping to protect housing, homelessness, and safety net programs for families, individuals, and youth.

To learn more about the Coalition's FY'17 budget priorities, please click here.

We are truly grateful that you are advocating with us to protect and promote investment in these programs!

Important links:


Quick List of Outcomes and Lead Sponsors on Key Housing, Shelter, Homelessness Prevention, and Cash Assistance Amendments
(Updated May 26, 2016; 4:30p.m.)

Thank you for all of your advocacy!




Campaign to Establish a Bill of Rights for People Experiencing Homelessness

Campaign to Establish a Bill of Rights for People Experiencing Homelessness

Please Actively Support An Act Providing a Homeless Bill of Rights, House Bill 1129

Download the current fact sheet here.

Read Sherry's testimony and Charlie's testimony.

Summary

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.  

Bill Status
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. House Bill 1129 was filed on January 14, 2015, and was sent to the Joint Committee on Housing on March 10, 2015. The committee heard the bill on July 28, 2015, and reported out the bill favorably on December 17, 2015. House Bill 1129 now is before the House Committee on Ways and Means. 

[The bill also 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.






Youth Count 2016

Youth Count 2016

Take part in the 2016 Massachusetts Youth Count survey as a participant and/or volunteer!

May 2, 2016 

Today's the day! The 3rd annual Massachusetts Youth Count is now underway to better understand the housing and service needs of unaccompanied youth and young adults under the age of 25. Findings from this survey will continue to inform state policies and funding allocations so that Massachusetts can better meet the needs of young people who are experiencing homelessness and housing instability, outside the care of a parent or guardian.

Youth Count 2016 will run until the end of the day on Sunday, May 15th.

Please share these links with young people you know who are under 25 and who have experienced housing instability.

The online survey in English and Spanish is here.

Downloadable versions are below:

English

Spanish

Haitian Creole

Completed paper versions can be returned to Kelly: kelly@mahomeless.org

Continuums of Care, youth providers, youth ambassadors, and other partners also will be distributing the survey over the next two weeks to youth and young adults throughout the state.


Data from last year's survey is available here and Spare Change News coverage of this year's count is here.

The Coalition is proud to be a lead partner in the Massachusetts Youth Count, a project of the Massachusetts Special Commission on Unaccompanied Homeless Youth

Learn more on the Youth Count Facebook page or by emailing kelly@mahomeless.org

Thanks! 
Advocate Along with Us to Improve the House Version of the FY'17 State Budget

Advocate Along with Us to Improve the House Version of the FY'17 State Budget

Support key amendments to the House Ways and Means budget recommendations

(Initially posted April 14, 2016)

Yesterday, the House Committee on Ways and Means ("HWM" or "House Ways and Means") unveiled its fiscal year 2017 budget recommendations for the Commonwealth. This $39.5 billion budget marks the next step on the path to developing the state budget for the fiscal year that will begin on July 1st. Tomorrow afternoon at 5 p.m.(Friday, April 15th) will be the deadline for House members to file amendments to the HWM budget, with the House budget debate scheduled for the week of April 25th.

See the sections linked here for preliminary information on the House Ways and Mean's budget proposals for housing, shelter, homelessness prevention, and cash assistance programs. 

*Please contact your State Representative today to ask her/him to support the key amendments listed below, notably the amendments to expand RAFT, restore funding for housing and services to unaccompanied youth, and to prevent families from having to stay in places not meant for human habitation. You can find your State Representative's contact information by going to malegislature.gov/People/House or www.wheredoivotema.com, or by calling the State House switchboard: 617-722-2000.*

Stay tuned in the days and week ahead for a more detailed analysis and additional information about amendments.

As this is only the next of several proposals on the way to the final FY'17 budget, your voice will be critical to helping to protect housing, homelessness, and safety net programs for families, individuals, and youth.

To learn more about the Coalition's FY'17 budget priorities, please click here.

We are truly grateful that you are advocating with us to protect and promote investment in these programs!

Important links:

Expand Access to Homelessness Prevention Resources in FY'17

Expand Access to Homelessness Prevention Resources in FY'17

Expand Eligibility and Funding for the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition Program (RAFT, line item 7004-9316)

Please join the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless in asking your State Representative and State Senator to support the expansion of the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) program to change the definition of family to cover households of all sizes and configurations so as to allow unaccompanied adults and those without children in the household to also access homelessness prevention resources. Please also join us in asking the Legislature to expand RAFT funding from $12.5 million to $18.5 million to fund the expansion and to ensure that RAFT resources are available year-round.

testimonies; testimonies in support of RAFT expansion (also viewable below)

* One-minute online action: Click here to send a letter in support of the RAFT expansion to your State Representative and State Senator.* 
Testimonies for override campaign 7-20-16-page-001

Testimonies for override campaign 7-20-16-page-002









Help Us Expand Access to Emergency Assistance Family Shelter

Help Us Expand Access to Emergency Assistance Family Shelter

Help Change Policies Forcing Families to Stay in Places Not Meant for Human Habitation

Join the Coalition in asking your State Representative and State Senator to provide adequate funding for the Emergency Assistance family shelter and services program (EA, line item 7004-0101) in the fiscal year 2017 budget and include key language to provide shelter to families who are at imminent risk of staying in a place not meant for human habitation.

Under current EA regulations, otherwise eligible families who are within 24 hours of staying in places not meant for human habitation can be turned away from shelter, even if DHCD believes that the family will be forced to stay in a car, emergency room, or transit station. Massachusetts can and must do better for its most vulnerable families.

Between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015 (all of FY’15), 494 families with children were approved for EA only after first staying in a place not meant for human habitation. For the first seven months of FY’16, 364 families first stayed in places not meant for human habitation before being approved for shelter (an average of 52 families/month).

Learn more here: EA fact sheet

Sign our one-minute online action to legislators, on Emergency Assistance and other issues: FY'17 budget priorities online action







Legislative Action Day 2016

Thank you to the 296 people who joined us at the State House for our annual Legislative Action Day, to be held on Thursday, March 3, 2016! We are so grateful for your participation and engagement. Special thanks to all of our amazing speakers who inspired the crowd with their calls to action.

As a follow-up, please take a minute to participate in our online letter action to State Representatives and State Senators, and check out our follow-up email alert.

See our list of FY'17 budget priorities, current bill priorities, and agenda here, and check out our promo video on YouTube.

We will be posting photos soon. If you have any pictures from Legislative Action Day, please share them with us.

screenshot lad video

Thank you to everyone who participated in our Legislative Action Day training call on Wednesday, February 17th (flyer). Didn't make it? Here are some tips for meeting with legislators and aides.

After your meetings, please take a few minutes to share feedback on those meetings with us. Please complete this online legislative response form or the PDF version and send it back to us.




lad 2016 flyer 1-14-16

Youth Without Homes Can't Wait: FY'17 Budget Campaign Organizational Endorsers

Action for Boston Community Development

Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC)

Bridge Over Troubled Waters

Cambridge and Somerville Housing and Welfare Coalition

Children's League of Massachusetts

Citizens' Housing and Planning Association

DIAL/SELF Youth & Community Services

Homeless Youth Providers Engaging Together

Homes for Families

Horizons for Homeless Children

Justice Resource Institute/YouthHarbors

LUK, Inc.

Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy

Massachusetts Appleseed Center for Law and Justice

Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless

MassEquality

Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership

Regional Housing Network of Massachusetts

Promise Place School

Samaritans Steps

School on Wheels

Somerville Homeless Coalition

Western Massachusetts Network to End Homelessness

Y2Y Harvard Square

* A campaign fact sheet can be found here.
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  • Edward and Lee Lawrence

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  • TJX

    Foundation

     


  • Grace E. Brooks Trust
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  • Charles C. Foisy and Florida C.A. Foisy

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  • Mary B. Dunn Charitable Trust


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  • Adelard A. and Valeda Lee Roy

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