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Coronavirus: Protecting People Experiencing Homelessness and Poverty

Coronavirus: Protecting People Experiencing Homelessness and Poverty

Posted March 10, 2020; last updated March 28, 2020

As Massachusetts responds to the novel coronavirus and the resulting respiratory disease known as COVID-19, the Coalition is sharing key resources on the impact of the coronavirus on the community at large, and in particular, people experiencing homelessness and/or deep poverty. We also are advocating with elected officials to promote the health and safety of people experiencing homelessness during this pandemic and beyond, and engaging in conversations with key state organizations and task forces.

Key Updates:

CDC interim guidance for people who are unsheltered: Here is the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's interim guidance focused on preventing and addressing coronavirus among people experiencing unsheltered homelessness, from March 22, 2020.

Access to shelter:
With office closures until at least April 3rd, families with children seeking to apply for Emergency Assistance (EA) shelter only can apply by phone with the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). Please use this number if you are a family seeking shelter: 1-866-584-0653. More details about the EA program can be found here:
Get Help: Families with Children

(Shelters for unaccompanied adults, also funded by DHCD, oversee their own admissions processes, so if you are an unaccompanied adult, you do not need to apply through DHCD in order to access a shelter bed.)

Access to homelessness prevention resources:
The Residential Assistance for Families in Transition program (RAFT) provides funding to families and individuals at risk of homelessness to pay for back rent, back utility bills, and other needs. MassHousing has transferred $5 million to DHCD for a COVID-19 RAFT fund. While we are advocating for additional funds for the program (see below), households can apply for current funds through the regional RAFT agencies. More details about which provider serves each city and town and current intake procedures can be found in this summary from the Coalition (March 25, 2020 PDF) and through the Regional Housing Network of Massachusetts coronavirus website.

Evictions: Efforts are underway to halt all evictions statewide during this crisis. In the meantime, Greater Boston Legal Services has put together this helpful overview of eviction updates from the Housing Courts and District Courts in English (PDF) and Spanish (PDF). The Department of Housing and Community Development also has issued guidance to administrators of various subsidized housing programs on suspending "non-essential" evictions.

Access to cash assistance and food stamps: The Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) offices also will be closed to the public until at least April 3rd, so families and individuals who are looking to apply for benefits or follow-up on existing benefits should contact DTA by phone or via the DTA Connect app or website. Read more here.

Most state agencies are following the same timeline. You can check to see if a particular state agency is open or closed to the public here.

Access to unemployment assistance: With the sharp uptick in unemployment, the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) has set up a special web page with COVID-19-specific information on unemployment insurance claims. Please note that while DUA highly encourages applicants to apply online, details about phone applications are available on this page. Here is a link to the DUA form for requesting additional assistance in filing a claim due to a disability, language issue, or special need.

Utility shut-off moratorium: Utility companies in Massachusetts cannot turn off electricity, gas, and water service for failure to pay all or part of a bill, and cannot send communications threatening a shut-off during the state of emergency. Read more about actions from the Baker Administration and the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities to protect households from shut-offs.

Access to emergency, drop-in child care slots, including for families in shelter:
With the closure of most child care programs, the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care has created a list of emergency child care centers that will be making drop-in slots available, with priorities for families living in shelters, families involved with the Department of Children and Families, and families that need care due to working as "
health care workers, essential state and human service workers, COVID-19 health workers, grocery store employees, emergency response personnel, law enforcement, transportation and infrastructure workers, sanitation workers." See their list of providers here (PDF, March 23, 2020.)
 

Take Action with Us! Advocacy Actions and Opportunities:
  • Families and individuals experiencing homelessness should not have to choose between shelter and safety. Here is a letter from the Coalition and allied advocates to legislative leadership highlighting concerns and recommendations specifically on the Emergency Assistance family shelter program (EA), as well as our related letter to DHCD.
  • Low-income renters and homeowners across the state will need an unprecedented infusion of funds to be able to maintain their housing. We are working to secure $50 million in additional funds for the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition program (RAFT) to help low-income households pay for back rent, back mortgage payments, back utility bills, and other needs that will emerge related to the coronavirus. Please ask your State Representative and Senator to do all they can to expand RAFT resources and access. While we keep pushing for even greater resources, we are pleased the Governor announced a new investment of $5 million in RAFT funds from MassHousing on March 25th.
  • Renters and low-income homeowners across Massachusetts should not have to worry about being evicted during the COVID-19 state of emergency. Please ask your State Representative and Senator to sign on to House Docket 4935, An Act providing for a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures during the COVID-19 emergency, filed by Representative Mike Connolly of Cambridge and Representative Kevin Honan of Allston. Find your legislators' email addresses and contact information via https://malegislature.gov/Search/FindMyLegislator. (Please note that most legislative work will be happening remotely for the time being, so emailing may be the best way to reach your legislators.) We also invite you to sign and share this online petition from City Life/Vida Urbana on the moratorium, which is directed at the Housing Court and the Governor. Information on state plans to suspend housing voucher terminations can be found here.
  • Many families and individuals who participate in the state's cash assistance programs already live below the deep poverty line (50% of the federal poverty guidelines.) In the current pandemic, participants in the Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC) and Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children (EAEDC) programs will need infusions of resources, including increased cash assistance. Please ask your legislators to actively support House Docket 4951, An Act to provide short-term relief for families in deep poverty, filed by Representative Marjorie Decker of Cambridge and Senator Sal DiDomenico of Everett. Under the bill, $23 million would be allocated to provide a one-time payment to each participant household, equal to the standard of need set out by the Department of Transitional Assistance. Please sign and share this online action to your legislators from the Lift Our Kids Coalition.
  • Please also ask your State Representative and Senator to support House Docket 4950, An Act providing emergency access to equity and justice for all in response to COVID-19, and House Docket 4952, An Act establishing emergency funding for homeless services.
  • In addition, as part of the Emergency Task Force on Coronavirus and Equity, convened by the Massachusetts Public Health Association, we are calling for urgent action from Governor Charlie Baker, Attorney General Maura Healey, and the Legislature to:
    • Ensure immigrants have safe access to testing and treatment
    • Ensure everyone has access to safe quarantine
    • Pass emergency paid sick time
    • Enact a moratorium on evictions, foreclosures, and terminations of public benefits

In the News:

Links:
Legislative Action Day 2020: Sharing Our Gratitude and Next Steps

Legislative Action Day 2020: Sharing Our Gratitude and Next Steps

Posted March 5, 2020

Our hearts are filled with gratitude for all of your support for last week's Legislative Action Day at the State House! We had more than 200 people with us: families, youth, and adults with lived experience of homelessness, providers, advocates, legislators, and other people of conscience, all speaking up for solutions to homelessness, housing instability, and poverty, and taking action to ensure that everyone has a place to call home.

We are especially grateful to all of our event volunteers, including planning team member Charles Dietrick, and speakers: community members with lived experience of homelessness, legislators, and advocates (see the agenda here). Check out State House News coverage of the event and some photos from the day (and please share additional photos to be added to the album, along with any photo credit or suggested caption).

We also are very thankful to everyone who met with and/or called legislators and staff in the afternoon to advocate for key homelessness and housing bill and budget priorities-- including the #EveryoneNeedsID Mass ID access bill that passed the Senate unanimously on Legislative Action Day! Links to fact sheets on the Coalition's key FY'21 budget requests (PDF), 2019-2020 bill priorities (PDF), and other materials are on the Legislative Action Day page.

If you did speak with legislators and staff, please complete the legislative response form. If you didn't, it is not too late! Please contact your State Representative and State Senator and/or their staff in the week ahead to express your support for the Coalition's budget and bill priorities. Ask your State Senator and State Representative to actively support these priorities throughout the FY'21 budget process and this bill session. Legislators' contact information can be found at www.malegislature.gov/people/search or at www.wheredoivotema.com. Here are some other tips for talking to legislative offices.

From across the Commonwealth, we raised our voices with one message, and took action to end homelessness. Let's continue to build up that momentum!
 

Thank you for your partnership and solidarity!





Massachusetts Youth Count 2020

Massachusetts Youth Count 2020

Posted February 5, 2020, last updated March 16, 2020

** This year's Youth Count, which had been scheduled for
Monday, April 13th - Sunday, May 17th, is postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.
**

* The results of last year's Massachusetts Youth Count are now available. Read the 2019 Youth Count report (PDF) and Executive Summary (PDF) from the Massachusetts Commission on Unaccompanied Homeless Youth here. Regional data will be posted on our Unaccompanied Youth Homelessness page.*

The Coalition is proud to be a lead collaborator once again with the Massachusetts Commission on Unaccompanied Homeless Youth for the 7th annual Massachusetts Youth Count. The Massachusetts Youth Count mobilizes youth, young adults, youth providers funded by the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, Continua of Care, schools, and other community partners to survey young people under the age of 25 from all across the Commonwealth who are experiencing homelessness and housing instability. The insights and data gathered from the survey process are used to influence advocacy and programming to address youth and young adult homelessness.

This year's Youth Count, which had been scheduled for Monday, April 13th - Sunday, May 17th, has been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak. Please stay tuned for updates and next steps. We have removed the outreach links and flyers that were on this page for now to decrease any confusion.

For more details about the Coalition's advocacy on addressing and ending youth and young adult homelessness, please click here:unaccompanied youth and young adult homelessness page or contact Kelly. Follow the Massachusetts Youth Count on social media: Youth Count Facebook page and Youth Count Twitter feed. Please also see our coronavirus/COVID-19 page for news and advocacy requests.


Everyone Counts: Make Sure People Experiencing Homelessness Are Part of the 2020 U.S.Census

Everyone Counts: Make Sure People Experiencing Homelessness Are Part of the 2020 U.S.Census

Posted January 21, 2020; last updated March 27, 2020

April 1st is Census Day! Our voices matter, especially during a pandemic. Replying to the Census is safe and easy to do remotely and doesn’t require in-person interaction. Households should have received a mailing with a unique identifying ID code that they can input at 2020census.gov. If taking the census online isn’t an option, households can also reply over the phone and have access to 12 non-English languages. Households and individuals can also respond via mail in mid-April, as they will receive a paper form and an already stamped and addressed envelope in which to send the Census back. Participating in the Census is important and helps allocate billions of dollars in funding as well as crucial political representation at every level of the state.

How to respond to the Census: https://2020census.gov/en/ways-to-respond.html

The Census Bureau remains committed to getting a complete and accurate count, even as the situations changes rapidly. Many of the Coalition’s participants fall under the umbrella of Service-Based Enumeration (SBE), which is three-day period during which the Census Bureau will directly interact with service providers in order to enumerate as many people as they can at those locations. This includes locations like shelters, food pantries, and mobile food vans. Depending on the size of these locations, census enumerators will either individually interview each participant or will gather a list of participants and their demographics from provider administration. Initially, SBE was slated to take place between March 30th and April 1st. However, the Census suspended those plans and reached out to service providers to learn more about what their operations status is looking like. As of March 23rd, the Census is planning to conduct SBE from April 29th to May 1st. In the meantime, they are urging service providers and other Group Quarters locations to use the eResponse process if they are not already committed to doing so. The eResponse process allows providers to confidentially and electronically share records of their participants with the Census and eliminates the need for an in person visit.

Learn more about SBE: https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/decennial-census/2018-census-test/test/providence/group-quarters/sbe.html

The Census also plans to extend the period of time in which they will be enumerating Targeted Non-Sheltered Outdoor Locations (TNSOLs), which are outdoor areas where people are living such as encampments, underpasses, and sidewalks. The Census now plans to enumerate these locations from April 23rd to May 18th. Enumerators at these locations will do a headcount of the people they see staying there and will not be conducting in-person interviews.

The Census is also extending the period of outreach they do for Non-Response Follow-Up until August 14th, as their field operations are currently suspended until April 1st, 2020. The Census also plans to delay the start of their Mobile Questionnaire Assistance programs, which are non-permanent help centers that are designed to help people answer questions they have about the Census and assist them in being able to fill it out on their own. They were initially slated to begin operations on March 30th but will now be delayed until April 13th. More information is to come in the following days but taking the Census remains safe, easy, and important.

Information on MQAs: https://www.census.gov/library/fact-sheets/2020/dec/2020-mobile-questionnaire-assistance.html


Thank you to everyone who joined us for our five trainings in cities across the state during the month of February to help ensure that all people experiencing homelessness in Massachusetts are counted as part of the 2020 United States Census.

Thank you to our training hosts in Boston, Hyannis, Lynn, Springfield, and Worcester.

These trainings brought together advocates, providers, community members, people with lived experience, Census Bureau staff, and local Complete Count Committee members to work on best practices and effective outreach and engagement strategies in order to assure a complete count of people experiencing homelessness for the 2020 Census. We talked about the importance of the Census, barriers to a complete count, and discussed questions and concerns.

For more information, please contact Marwa.

Legislative Action Day 2020: Please Plan to Join Us at the State House on February 27th

Legislative Action Day 2020: Please Plan to Join Us at the State House on February 27th

Posted November 20, 2019; last updated February 26, 2020

We hope to see you at the State House in Boston for our annual Legislative Action Day tomorrow, Thursday, February 27, 2020 in the Great Hall. * Our agenda for the day is here (PDF).*

The event will be hosted by
State Representative Jim O'Day. Our keynote speaker will be Diane Yentel, President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition (and the Coalition's former Housing Policy Coordinator!) At Legislative Action Day, participants will hear from families, youth, and adults with lived experience of homelessness and housing instability, as well as researchers, advocates, and legislators. The day will focus on advocating for key 2019-2020 bill priorities (PDF) and FY'21 budget priorities (see Column C).

Legislative Action Day will begin with check-in and light breakfast starting at 9 a.m., with the speaking program from 9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
In the afternoon, participants will fan out across the State House to meet with legislators and their staff
to share their support for deeper investments in housing, homelessness prevention, emergency shelter, income support programs, and related resources. We can help you set up those meetings; just let us know by making note on the registration form.

Here are some basic tips (PDF) to help guide your meetings with legislators and staff. (We also are hosting a pre-event training call on Wednesday, February 19th, which will include additional tips and time for questions/answers.) After your meetings with legislative offices, please let us know how your meetings go by completing our legislative visit response form.

Registration is now openRegister today to participate and 
sign up here to be an event-day volunteer. Please also help us spread the word by inviting your colleagues, friends, and neighbors.


Read our Legislative Action Day media advisory here (PDF).

Fact sheets and links to our bill and budget priority campaigns:
For additional fact sheets and more details, please check back soon here and on our Present Policy Campaigns page.

For more information, please contact Kelly.

 Prepare for Advocacy and Action: Join Our Pre-Legislative Action Day Training Call on February 19th

Prepare for Advocacy and Action: Join Our Pre-Legislative Action Day Training Call on February 19th

Posted February 13, 2020

The Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless will be offering a training via conference call (PDF) to help participants prepare to take part in our upcoming Legislative Action Day 2020.

At Legislative Action Day, we will be pushing for key budget and bill priorities, such as putting the new upstream rental arrearage program into state statute; increasing funding to $8 million for housing and services for unaccompanied youth and young adults; strengthening cash assistance programs for families with children, elders, and people with disabilities, easing access to Mass ID cards for people experiencing homelessness; creating more housing subsidies under the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program and the Alternative Housing Voucher Program; and passing the bill of rights for people experiencing homelessness.

Learn more and join with advocates, providers, and concerned citizens from across Massachusetts to strengthen the movement to prevent and end homelessness!


Training Call Details

Date: Wednesday, February 19th

Time: 11 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Call-in Number: 712-775-7031

Access Code: 988-871-622#


To register for the February 19th training call, please visit https://tinyurl.com/lad20call and https://conta.cc/3bDpUn5.

To register for the February 27th Legislative Action Day, please visit https://tinyurl.com/lad2020.

For more information about the event, please go to https://tinyurl.com/mchlad20 or email Kelly.
Join us on Thursday, 9/26 for a State House briefing on unaccompanied youth homelessness + the #EveryoneNeedsID bill

Join us on Thursday, 9/26 for a State House briefing on unaccompanied youth homelessness + the #EveryoneNeedsID bill

Posted September 20, 2019

The Coalition will be joining with Representative Kay Khan, Representative Jim O'Day, Senator Harriette Chandler, youth and young adults with lived experience of homelessness, and others for a legislative briefing on unaccompanied youth homelessness issues.

Come join us! The event will be held on Thursday, September 26th from 11 a.m.-noon at the State House in Room 437.


Speakers will include: 
  • A member of the Boston Youth Action Board
  • The legislative sponsors
  • Linn Torto, Interagency Council on Housing and Homelessness
  • Danielle Ferrier, Heading Home
  • Kelly Turley, Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless
Topics will include the #EveryoneNeedsID bill, Senate Bill 2043 and House Bill 3066. See the bill fact sheet here.

Let us know you will be attending by emailing Kelly.
Take Action to Improve the Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children Program (EAEDC)

Take Action to Improve the Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children Program (EAEDC)

Help push for passage of House Bill 621/Senate Bill 356

Posted September 12, 2019; last updated September 18th

What is EAEDC?


The Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children program (EAEDC), is a state-funded cash assistance and benefits program providing support to over 19,000 extremely low-income individuals. The program is administered by the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA).

What would An Act Relative to Assisting Elders and People with Disabilities in the Commonwealth, House Bill 621/Senate Bill 356, do?

This bill, filed by Representative Jim O'Day and Senator Pat Jehlen, would:
  • Increase the EAEDC grant levels to match DTA grant levels for households of the same size that are participating in the Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children program (TAFDC)
  • Update state statute to reflect the removal of the homelessness penalty for individuals experiencing homelessness (removed via FY'19 and FY'20 state budget language)
  • Increase the allowable personal asset limit from $250 to $2,500
  • Create an annual cost of living adjustment (COLA) for EAEDC program participants
Follow the links below for more details:
How can you help push for passage of the EAEDC bill?

Thank you for your collaboration!
FY'20 Budget Advocacy: The Conference Committee is Meeting Now to Finalize the State Budget

FY'20 Budget Advocacy: The Conference Committee is Meeting Now to Finalize the State Budget

Posted June 11, 2019; updated June 20th

** There's still time to take action! Please sign and share our latest one-minute online action in support of the Coalition's FY'20 budget priorities for the Conference Committee stage of the budget process. If you prefer printing and mailing the letter, a PDF version is here.**

At the end of May, the State Senate wrapped up their budget. Last week, the three House and three Senate members who make up the FY'20 budget Conference Committee began meeting to iron out the differences between the House and Senate versions of the budget. The conferees are Senate Ways and Means Chair Michael Rodrigues, Senate Ways and Means Vice Chair Cindy Friedman, Senate Ways and Means Ranking Minority Member Viriato (Vinny) deMacedo, House Ways and Means Chair Aaron Michlewitz, House Ways and Means Vice Chair Denise Garlick, and House Ways and Means Ranking Minority Member Todd Smola.

As the Conference Committee meets, we want to make sure that the conferees and House and Senate leadership are hearing directly from Massachusetts residents and from their legislative colleagues in support of key homelessness, housing, and benefits issues. Today, we are asking you to sign and share our latest one-minute online action in support of the Coalition's FY'20 budget priorities for the Conference Committee stage of the budget process. This letter will be sent to your State Senator and Representative, asking them actively to weigh in in support of the deepest investments and most helpful budget language possible.


The action highlights our requests for:

• Senate-proposed language for the Emergency Assistance family shelter program to ensure that children and families do not have to stay in places not meant for human habitation before accessing shelter, and Senate-proposed funding level of $178.7 million, which is $13 million more than the House-proposed level (EA, line item 7004-0101). We are grateful that both the House and Senate budgets would allow families to retain shelter benefits while increasing their incomes up to 200% of the federal poverty guidelines (before the existing grace period would begin).

• Senate-proposed funding of $5 million for housing and wraparound services for unaccompanied youth and young adults experiencing homelessness (line item 4000-0007), which is $1.7 million more than the House-proposed level

• Senate-proposed funding of $21 million for the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition homelessness prevention program (RAFT, line item 7004-9316), which is $1 million more than the House-proposed level

• House-proposed direct funding of $110 million for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP, line item 7004-9024), which is $6 million more than the Senate-proposed direct appropriation, and Senate-proposed language that would update the allowable monthly rent levels to match current fair market rents for mobile subsidies issued or renewed on or after August 1st and that would carry over $6,000,000 in unspent FY'19 funds

Here is our updated FY'20 budget chart, with our analysis of key line items related to homelessness, housing, and benefits, including our Conference Committee requests in columns O and P.

Please stay tuned for additional updates. Thank you for your advocacy and partnership!



FY'20 Budget Advocacy: The Senate Budget Debate is Underway

FY'20 Budget Advocacy: The Senate Budget Debate is Underway

Posted May 21, 2019

The Senate's fiscal year 2020 budget debate officially kicked off this morning. Thank you for all of your help in getting Senators to cosponsor and actively support key homelessness amendments. The debate on the 1,142 amendments filed will extend throughout the week.

We are continuing to work on three main amendments:

- Amendment #797 to establish and fund the upstream Rent Arrearage Assistance Program (RAAP) under the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition program, filed by Senator Pat Jehlen of Somerville: RAAP Senate amendment fact sheet- PDF, updated 5-14-19; call script - PDF; talking points - PDF

- Amendment #464 to ease access to Mass IDs for people experiencing homelessness,  filed by Senate President Emerita Harriette Chandler of Worcester: Mass ID access amendment fact sheet - PDF, updated 5-14-19

- Amendment #715 to provide an additional $20 million to the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program, filed by Senator Brendan Crighton of Lynn: general FY'20 MRVP budget fact sheet - PDF

We also are partnering with allied organizations on related amendments to additional programs, including:

- Amendment #872 to allow families in Emergency Assistance (EA) shelter to increase their incomes to 200% of the federal poverty guidelines before going over the income limit, filed by Senator Patrick O'Connor of Weymouth (as described in our budget priority chart)

Here is our updated FY'20 budget chart, with our analysis of key line items related to homelessness, housing, and benefits, and preliminary information about budget amendments that were filed (see columns K-L ), as well as our May 8th action alert and May 14th action alert.

Please stay tuned for additional updates, or follow along by watching the sessions online. Thank you for your advocacy and partnership!



FY'20 Budget Advocacy: A Look at the Senate Ways and Means Budget and Senate Budget Amendments

FY'20 Budget Advocacy: A Look at the Senate Ways and Means Budget and Senate Budget Amendments

Posted May 8, 2019, last updated May 14th

** Please see our May 14th action alert and join us in taking action: Take action with us! Please ask your State Senator to cosponsor key homelessness prevention, housing, and benefits amendments to improve upon the FY'20 Senate Ways and Means budget **

On May 7th, the Senate Committee on Ways and Means released its fiscal year 2020 budget recommendations. This is the first budget under the leadership of Senate President Karen Spilka of Ashland and Senate Ways and Means Chair Michael Rodrigues of Westport. Senate Ways and Means (SWM) recommended $42.7 billion in spending for the new fiscal year, which will begin on July 1st.

The budget includes strong recommended language and proposed investments in homelessness, housing, and benefits programs, including:

·         Emergency Assistance family and shelter program (EA, line item 7004-0101) language to ensure that families experiencing homelessness do not have to sleep in places not meant for human habitation before becoming eligible for EA shelter (matching our advocacy request on places not meant for human habitation; partially matching our overall request)

·         $1.7 million in additional funding for housing and services for unaccompanied youth and young adults experiencing homelessness, which would bring the funding level up to $5 million (matching our advocacy request)

·         Level funding of $20 million for the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition program (RAFT, line item 7004-9316), and language that would maintain access for households without dependent children (partially matching our overall advocacy request)

·         $10 million in new funding for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP, line item 7004-9024), which would bring the funding level up to $110 million, and language that would update the allowable monthly rent levels to match current fair market rents for mobile subsidies issued or leased after August 1, 2019 (partially matching our advocacy request)

·         $1.85 million in additional funding for the Alternative Housing Voucher Program (AHVP, line item 7004-9030) that would increase funding to $8 million (matching our advocacy request)

·        $6.5 million in additional funding for state-funded public housing operating subsidies (line item 7004-9005) that would increase funding to $72 million (matching our advocacy request)


·         Language that would maintain full Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children program (EAEDC, line item 4408-1000) benefits to participants experiencing homelessness (matching our advocacy request)

·         Important funding and language for the Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children program (TAFDC, line item 4403-2000), including language that would remove the homelessness penalty and restore benefits to families experiencing homelessness, as well as additional funds to provide benefits to families previously subject to the family cap rule (matching/addressing our advocacy request)

Here is our updated FY'20 budget chart, with our initial analysis of key line items related to homelessness, housing, and benefits, and preliminary information about budget amendments that will be filed to improve upon the SWM budget (see columns K-L ), as well as our May 8th action alert.

State Senators were able to file amendments until noon on Friday, May 10th, and can cosponsor amendments until the full Senate budget debate, which is scheduled to begin on Tuesday, May 21st.

We are working on three main amendments:

- Amendment #797 to establish and fund the upstream Rent Arrearage Assistance Program (RAAP) under the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition program, filed by Senator Pat Jehlen of Somerville: RAAP Senate amendment fact sheet- PDF, updated 5-14-19; call script - PDF; talking points - PDF

- Amendment #464 to ease access to Mass IDs for people experiencing homelessness,  filed by Senate President Emerita Harriette Chandler of Worcester: Mass ID access amendment fact sheet - PDF, updated 5-14-19

- Amendment #715 to provide an additional $20 million to the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program, filed by Senator Brendan Crighton of Lynn: general FY'20 MRVP budget fact sheet - PDF

Please ask your State Senator to cosponsor and actively support these amendments. You can identify who your Senator is by going to www.wheredoivotema.com, and you can reach your Senator by calling the State House switchboard: 617-722-2000.

We also are partnering with allied organizations on related amendments to additional programs, including:

- Amendment #872 to allow families in Emergency Assistance (EA) shelter to increase their incomes to 200% of the federal poverty guidelines before going over the income limit, filed by Senator Patrick O'Connor of Weymouth (as described in our budget priority chart)

We will be back in touch soon with additional amendment details and updates so that you can help us secure as many amendment cosponsors as possible. If your Senator is a member of Senate Ways and Means or Senate leadership, please thank them for the strong budget.

We continue to be grateful for your collaboration and interest!
Massachusetts Youth Count 2019

Massachusetts Youth Count 2019

Posted March 15, 2019; last updated February 5, 2020

** The results of the 2019 Massachusetts Youth Count are now available. Read the 2019 Youth Count report (PDF) and Executive Summary (PDF) from the Massachusetts Commission on Unaccompanied Homeless Youth here. Regional data will be posted on our Unaccompanied Youth Homelessness page. **

The Coalition is proud to be a lead collaborator once again with the Massachusetts Commission on Unaccompanied Homeless Youth for the 6th annual Massachusetts Youth Count. The Massachusetts Youth Count mobilizes youth, young adults, youth providers funded by the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, Continua of Care, schools, and other community partners to survey young people under the age of 25 from all across the Commonwealth who are experiencing homelessness and housing instability. The insights and data gathered from the survey process are used to influence advocacy and programming to address youth and young adult homelessness.

This year's Youth Count will take place from Friday, April 12th - Sunday, May 12th (with some communities potentially doing additional outreach at events in the weeks after the Youth Count). Here are the survey links:

- Online survey in English
- Online survey in Spanish  
- Printable survey in Spanish (PDF, 4-page version)
- Printable (paper) survey in English (PDF) with shortened link to share: 
tinyurl.com/ycs2019-e
- Printable survey in Haitian Kreyol
- Printable survey in Cape Verdean Creole
- Printable survey in Portuguese

While the regional youth agencies will be entering most surveys, if you are young person completing a paper survey, completed printed surveys can be scanned/photographed and emailed to Kelly or mailed to the Kelly Turley, Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless, 73 Buffum Street, Lynn, MA 01902.

** We actively are recruiting youth and young adults who identify as LGBTQ, especially LGBTQ youth of color, to join in the Youth Count as Youth Ambassadors to recruit peers to participate in the survey. Compensation and supports will be provided. If you are interested in serving in the role, please complete this simple self-nomination form. Please also share this Youth Ambassador outreach flyer with other young people who might be interested. Special thanks to the Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth for supporting this initiative! **

Thank you to everyone who participated in 2019 Youth Count webinar on April 4th. The webinar recording will be available shortly. 

Here is a Youth Count outreach flyer (PDF, with a QR code to this page), half-page outreach flyer (PDF, with a QR code directly to the online survey; flyer can printed and cut in half), and an overview letter (PDF) from Linn Torto of the Commission and the Interagency Council on Housing and Homelessness to youth providers funded through the Executive Office of Health and Human Services on Youth Count 2019. Check this page soon for an overview of the 2019 Youth Count and an outreach flyer in Spanish.

The results of the 2019 Massachusetts Youth Count are now available.
Read the 
2019 Youth Count report (PDF) and Executive Summary (PDF) from the Massachusetts Commission on Unaccompanied Homeless Youth here. Regional data will be posted on our Unaccompanied Youth Homelessness page.


For more details about the Coalition's advocacy on addressing and ending youth and young adult homelessness, please click here:unaccompanied youth and young adult homelessness page or contact Kelly. Follow the Massachusetts Youth Count on Facebook: Youth Count Facebook page.

QR code to online survey:
qr code directly to online survey english version
FY'20 Budget Advocacy: A Look at the House Ways and Means Budget and House Budget Amendments

FY'20 Budget Advocacy: A Look at the House Ways and Means Budget and House Budget Amendments

Posted April 11, 2019; last updated April 19th

* Read about House budget outcomes in our follow-up action alert from May 2nd. *

On April 10th, the House Committee on Ways and Means ("House Ways and Means" or "HWM") released its fiscal year 2020 budget recommendations for the Commonwealth. The $42.7 billion budget is the first budget under the leadership of new House Ways and Means Chair Aaron Michlewitz. 

See our updated budget chart for a preliminary analysis in columns G and H of how key homelessness prevention, housing, emergency services, and benefits programs fared, as compared to our budget priorities, as well as our budget action alert.

Below are some quick highlights of line items in need of amendments. Please call your State Representative today or early tomorrow to ask them to sign onto these critical amendments.  You can look up your State Representative via  www.wheredoivotema.com. After calling or emailing them, please let us know what the response was from your Representative's office. For your reference, here is the email we sent to Representatives.

Key Amendments:

  • Amendment #1127: Rent Arrearage Assistance Program (RAAP) amendment to line item 7004-9316 filed by Representative Marjorie Decker to create a $7 million upstream homelessness prevention pilot program within the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition program (RAFT) to help households pay for back rent and mortgage payments: fact sheet (updated 4-19-19)call script, and talking points (PDF files)

  • Amendment #1124: Emergency Assistance (EA) amendment to line item 7004-0101 filed by Representative Marjorie Decker to ensure that families experiencing homelessness do not have to sleep in places not meant for human habitation before becoming eligible for EA shelter: fact sheet (PDF, updated 4-16-19)

  • Amendment #883: Youth homelessness amendment to line item 4000-0007 filed by Representative Jim O'Day to increase funding for housing and wraparound services for unaccompanied youth and young adults experiencing homelessness: fact sheet (PDF, updated 4-16-19)

  • Amendment #765: Mass ID access amendment to create a new outside section of the budget filed by Representative Kay Khan to ease access to standard Mass IDs for people experiencing homelessness: fact sheet (PDF, updated 4-16-19)


Check back on this page for more details on other House budget amendments. Amendments were due by Friday, April 12th at 5 p.m. The full House will debate the budget the week of April 22nd.

Thank you for your advocacy and collaboration to push for a #BudgetToEndHomelessness!
Speak up for a strong budget on homelessness and housing issues: Join us April 2nd for a public hearing on the FY'20 state budget

Speak up for a strong budget on homelessness and housing issues: Join us April 2nd for a public hearing on the FY'20 state budget

Posted March 22, 2019; last updated April 2nd

Please plan to join us at the Massachusetts State House on Tuesday, April 2nd for the Joint Committee on Ways and Means public hearing on the FY'20 budget. This hearing is for members of the public to weigh in with the House and Senate Committees on Ways and Means as they develop the state's fiscal year 2020 budget. Come speak up for deeper investments in housing, homelessness prevention resources, emergency services, and benefits.

The hearing is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. in Gardner Auditorium in the basement of the State House. We also will be hosting a pre-hearing meet-up that morning from 9:30-10:30 a.m. to prepare for the hearing. The pre-hearing event will be at Church on the Hill, 140 Bowdoin Street, Boston, MA 02108.

Pre-Hearing Gathering Details:
Tuesday, April 2nd
9:30-10:30 a.m.
Church on the Hill
140 Bowdoin Street, 2nd floor
Boston, MA 02108
(Across from the State House)

Hearing Details:
Tuesday, April 2nd
Beginning at 11 a.m., and likely will run until late afternoon
Massachusetts State House 
24 Beacon Street
Gardner Auditorium, basement level
Boston, MA 02133

(Closest entrance: Beacon Street side)

Please RSVP to let us know if you plan to join us for the pre-hearing gathering and/or hearing.

We specifically are organizing panels of speakers to testify in support of re-establishing an upstream rental arrearage program through the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition program (RAFT), providing Emergency Assistance (EA) shelter to families with children before they have to stay in places not meant for human habitation, and increasing funding to provide housing and wraparound services to unaccompanied youth and young adults who are experiencing homelessness. If you would like to be part of one of these panels, please let us know.

House Ways and Means has confirmed that they are requesting that each person's oral testimony be limited to no more than three minutes. Oral testimony can be supplemented with written testimony.

Not available on April 2nd, or unable to travel to Boston? There are still ways for you to join us in advocacy! We encourage you to submit written testimony to us, which we are glad to deliver to the Committee for you in-person. You can also join us on social media, by posting video statements and written thoughts on why you urge the Committee to fund solutions to homelessness, housing instability, and poverty in the state budget. Follow us and join conversation with the hashtag #BudgetToEndHomelessness. Please also sign and share our one-minute online budget action to State Representatives and Senators.

Read more about the Coalition's FY'20 budget priorities (PDF, updated 3-29-19) and on our budget spreadsheet.

See more details about the hearing on the Legislature's website.

Read our email about the hearing here.

Rent arrearage campaign materials: Talking points, sample testimony, and sample letter packet (PDF) and Coalition testimony (PDF)

Emergency Assistance campaign materials: Talking points (PDF), budget fact sheet (PDF), and Coalition testimony (PDF)

Unaccompanied youth campaign materials: Talking points, sample testimony, and sample letter packet (PDF) and Coalition testimony (PDF)

Legislative Action Day 2019: Sharing Our Gratitude and Next Steps

Legislative Action Day 2019: Sharing Our Gratitude and Next Steps

Posted March 15, 2019

Our hearts are filled with gratitude for all of your support for our recent Legislative Action Day at the State House! We had 200 people with us: families, youth, and adults with lived experience of homelessness, providers, advocates, legislators, and other people of conscience, all speaking up for solutions to homelessness, housing instability, and poverty, and taking action to ensure that everyone has a place to call home.

We are especially grateful to all of our event volunteers and speakers: community members with lived experience of homelessness, legislators, and advocates (see below). Check out some photos from the day.

We also are very thankful to everyone who met and/or called legislators and staff in the afternoon to advocate for key homelessness and housing bill and budget priorities. Links to fact sheets on the Coalition's key FY'20 budget requests and 2019-2020 bill priorities are on our policy campaigns page.

** Please let us know how your experience was at Legislative Action Day by completing this brief survey. **

If you did speak with legislators and staff, please complete the legislative response form. If you didn't, it is not too late! Please contact your State Representative and State Senator and/or their staff in the week ahead to express your support for the Coalition's budget
 and bill priorities. Ask your State Senator and State Representative to actively support these priorities throughout the FY'20 budget process and this bill session. Legislators' contact information can be found at www.malegislature.gov/people/search or at www.wheredoivotema.com. Here are some other tips for talking to legislative offices.

** Please also help us expand the impact of Legislative Action Day by signing and sharing our one-minute online action to legislators in support of key FY'20 budget priorities. Do you prefer to print, sign, and mail your action? A printable version is here, with mailing addresses available at the contact links above. **

From across the Commonwealth, we raised our voices, with one message, and took action to end homelessness. Let's continue to build up that momentum!

Thank you for your partnership and solidarity!



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