Advocacy

FY 2018

Take Action with Us to Restore Funding for Youth and Young Adults Experiencing Homelessness

Take Action with Us to Restore Funding for Youth and Young Adults Experiencing Homelessness

Youth without homes can't wait

September 11, 2017, updated September 18th

Please invite your State Representative and Senator to join us this Tuesday, September 19th for a briefing at the State House on the need to restore funding for housing and wraparound services for unaccompanied youth and young adults experiencing homelessness. See our campaign fact sheet, media advisory, and below for additional briefing details. To find out who your legislators are, use the Legislature's search feature  or go to www.wheredoivotema.com.


This event is organized by the Coalition and hosted by Representative Jim O'Day, Senator Harriette Chandler, Representative Kay Khan, and Representative Marjorie Decker. 

We also have room for a limited number of members and supporters to join us as well. RSVP here if you would like to attend.

If you haven't signed our online petition asking the Legislature to override the Governor's youth homelessness and other key vetoes, please click here and enter your address at the bottom to get started.

Who: Legislators, staffers, youth and young adults experiencing homelessness, providers, advocates, and others
What: Legislative briefing on restoring youth and young funding in the FY'18 state budget
When: Tuesday, September 19th, 1-2:30 p.m.
Where: Massachusetts State House, House Members' Lounge, 3rd floor (near the House Chamber)
RSVP: Online here or by emailing Kelly

youth budget campaign fact sheet, 9-18-17, page 1youth budget campaign fact sheet, 9-18-17, page 2
Take Action to Help Override Governor Baker's Vetoes to Key Homelessness and Housing Programs in the FY'18 Budget

Take Action to Help Override Governor Baker's Vetoes to Key Homelessness and Housing Programs in the FY'18 Budget

July 17, 2017; last updated August 17th

Governor Charlie Baker just issued his FY'18 budget vetoes. Among the $320 million in vetoes were cuts to important language and funding related to homelessness, housing, and benefits programs. Fortunately, he does not have the final word. The Legislature can override his vetoes with 2/3 votes from both the House and Senate. Help make that happen by signing our one-minute online action to State Legislators.

What did he cut?

The Governor zeroed out the unaccompanied youth homelessness line item, 4000-0007, saying that the $675,000 appropriated by the Legislature was too small: "I am vetoing this item because it is too small to be effective at the enacted level of funding." (Fortunately, this veto did not cut the funding for the Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Commission and the annual Massachusetts Youth Count. $150,000 will be provided for those initiatives through the Executive Office of Health and Human Services administrative line item-- even though there is no direct language/earmark.) See our latest campaign fact sheet here.

He also eliminated the $2 million increase to the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition Program (RAFT, line item 7004-9316), and struck the language that would allow the program to keep serving unaccompanied youth, elders, people with disabilities, and other households without minor children.

In the Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children program (TAFDC, line item 4403-2000), the Governor reduced the annual children's clothing allowance from $300 to $250, and struck language requiring advanced notice before eligibility restrictions or benefits cuts are made. This is particularly concerning as the Governor is looking to count Supplemental Security Income when determining eligibility for TAFDC and render an estimated 5,800 families ineligible for TAFDC and/or have their grants reduced.

The Governor also eliminated language from the Department of Housing and Community Development administrative line item (line item 7004-0099) that allows families participating in the HomeBASE program (line item 7004-0108) to retain preferences and priorities for long-term state-funded subsidized housing opportunities.


In some good news, the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program, line item 7004-9024, increase to $92.7 million was approved.

We already started to push for veto overrides and will push for supplemental funding for programs that were vetoed. As noted above, the Legislature can restore language and funding by 2/3 votes in both the House and Senate. 


** Please sign our online action to State Legislators, asking them to override these vetoes swiftly. **

Please also join the Coalition in letting Governor Charlie Baker know that you are disappointed in his cuts to key programs like youth homelessness, RAFT, and TAFDC. Click here for the Governor's contact information. ** You also can call your legislators via the State House switchboard: 617-722-2000.

If you have any feedback from the Governor's office or from your State Representative and Senator, please share it with us: kelly @mahomeless.org or call 781-595-7570 x17.

Thank you so much for your continued support and advocacy. Please stay tuned and engaged!


Related Budget Materials:

youth and raft veto override image to members 7 26 17








It's Time for the Annual TAFDC Clothing Allowance!

It's Time for the Annual TAFDC Clothing Allowance!

August 30, 2017

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 , and occurs only for September. 

Families currently participating in the TAFDC program will receive an additional $250/eligible child. Families that are not currently receiving TAFDC benefits but apply before the end of September and are approved also will receive the full clothing allowance benefit in the fall. If you are looking to access the benefit, here is a link to local DTA office locations and contact information.

Families may receive an additional $50/eligible child later, too, if the Legislature overrides a veto issued by Governor Baker that reduced the benefit from the $300 recommended by the Legislature back down to $250. The Legislature will begin to take up veto overrides after Labor Day. Learn more about the veto override efforts here and sign our online action to your state legislators to encourage them to take this important action.
Legislators and Advocates Speak Up and Stand Up with Families Experiencing Homelessness

Legislators and Advocates Speak Up and Stand Up with Families Experiencing Homelessness

August 22, 2017, last updated August 30th

Learn more about House Bill 659, An Act to protect families experiencing homelessness from having to sleep in unsafe places, here.

“Government policies or regulations should never deliberately put people, and especially children, in danger. This regulation without any nuance forces parents to place children in harm’s way in order to receive shelter. This is unjust and cruel.” - Representative Marjorie Decker, the bill's lead sponsor (D-Cambridge)


“I am proud to cosponsor H.659. Children and families who are facing homelessness shouldn’t be forced to risk their health and safety for even a single night before they are given access to Emergency Assistance shelter. I have supported this policy change for years, and I hope this session it will finally be enacted into law.” - Representative Kay Khan (D-Newton)

“Nobody should have to face the dangerous and undignified experience of sleeping in public areas, especially kids. This legislation affirms Massachusetts’ commitment to supporting families and providing all our kids with safe, happy childhoods. This starts with a roof over their heads, something which everyone deserves and which we will continue to pursue for everyone in the Commonwealth.” - Senator Barbara L'Italien (D-Andover)

“Being able to safely go to sleep every night with a roof over one’s head should be considered a basic human right. I cosponsored H. 84 and H. 659 because homelessness and housing instability remain chronic and still-too-common ills in our Commonwealth.  These important bills will take concrete steps to address and prevent homelessness and housing instability.” - Senator Jason Lewis (D-Winchester)

“I am proud to continue being a vocal advocate for increased investment in resources for families experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity. Preventing homelessness and ensuring that families are provided with support programs are imperative to the welfare of the Commonwealth.” - Representative David P. Linsky (D-Natick)

“The issue of ensuring safe shelter for our most vulnerable children and families experiencing homelessness is urgent and tragic. This bill would reduce the risk of harm to families by providing emergency housing assistance for those who would otherwise be sleeping in exposed, unprotected areas. The goal is to keep these families intact and their children safe.” - Representative Jim O'Day (D-West Boylston)

Organizational Testimony (PDF): 

For videos from the hearing, check out our YouTube playlist.

For audio from the hearing, check our new SoundCloud account.






Stand Up with Families Experiencing Homelessness: Join Us for a State House Bill Hearing on August 22nd!

Stand Up with Families Experiencing Homelessness: Join Us for a State House Bill Hearing on August 22nd!

July 27, 2017; updated August 25th

Massachusetts currently requires many families experiencing homelessness to prove that they already have stayed in a place not meant for human habitation before being eligible for a shelter placement through the state's Emergency Assistance (EA) program. In fact, between the policy's implementation in the fall of 2012 and June 30, 2017, at least 2,682 families with children first stayed in an unsafe place before ultimately being placed in shelter.

Please join us at the State House on Tuesday, August 22nd to show your support for House Bill 659, An Act to protect families experiencing homelessness from having to sleep in unsafe places. This bill was filed by Representative Marjorie Decker of Cambridge. See our bill fact sheet here and listen to the personal testimony of advocate/mother, Lynnette.

The Joint Committee on Housing will be taking testimony that day on this and other bills related to the Department of Housing and Community Development and manufactured housing. The hearing will begin at 10 a.m., and will be held in Room B-2. The committee is chaired by Senator Joe Boncore and Representative Kevin Honan.

Please contact Kelly if you are able to provide in-person, written, and/or video testimony in support of the bill. 

*Please also complete this form if your organization is able to be an official endorser of the legislation.*

Current endorsers include: 
  • Advocacy Network to End Family Homelessness
  • Allston-Brighton Health Collaborative
  • Arise for Social Justice
  • Boston Area Rape Crisis Center
  • Central West Justice Center
  • EMPath
  • Greater Boston Legal Services
  • Horizons for Homeless Children
  • Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless
  • Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
  • MetroWest Legal Services
  • MLPB
  • National Association of Social Workers, Massachusetts Chapter
  • Northeast Justice Center
  • Out Now
  • Partners HealthCare
  • Poor People’s United Fund
  • Project Hope
Important links: ea places not meant for human habitation chart 8 2 17 for website
Outcomes for Homelessness and Housing Programs in the FY'18 Conference Committee Budget

Outcomes for Homelessness and Housing Programs in the FY'18 Conference Committee Budget

July 10, 2017; last updated July 13th


7 13 gov with hyperlink

After some delays, the six members* of the Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Conference Committee released their recommendations, House Bill 3800, on Friday, July 7th for the fiscal year that began on July 1st. While both the House and Senate initially had released $40.8 billion recommendations, the Conference Committee budget reflected the newer consensus revenue estimate (lowered by $733 million) and included only $40.2 billion in spending. (See the previous $40.8 billion recommendations here: House Bill 3601 and Senate Bill 2076.) As anticipated, this meant lower appropriations and fewer positive language changes for many important line items, including some homelessness and housing programs.

To access a PDF of the budget without having to download it, click here. (The budget also is posted here, but the Legislature's website has been experiencing technical difficulties.)

On Friday afternoon, the House voted to approve the Conference Committee budget on a vote of 140-9, and the Senate voted to approve it 36-2. The budget was then sent to Governor Charlie Baker, who has 10 days to sign the budget and issue any vetoes. (In the meantime, the state has a temporary budget in place to cover July.)

Here are some quick highlights, with a full chart of outcomes for the Coalition's priorities here and a closer look at our top three priorities here (PDF):

Residential Assistance for Families in Transition Program (RAFT, Line Item 7004-9316): We are happy to report that the Conference Committee adopted the Senate's language to continue to serve households of all sizes and configurations. The Conference Committee budget earmarks up to $2 million to serve households without children under the age of 21. The committee adopted the House's funding recommendation of $15 million, which is $2 million more than the FY'17 appropriation. Click here and see the image below for more details on the importance of RAFT.

Emergency Assistance family shelter and services (EA, Line Item 7004- 0101): Unfortunately, the Conference Committee did not include the Senate’s language that would allow certain otherwise eligible families to access shelter before having to stay in a place not meant for human habitation. The committee also adopted the House’s lower funding recommendation of $155 million. 

Housing and wraparound support services for unaccompanied youth and young adults who are experiencing homelessness (Line Item 4000-0007): Unfortunately, the Conference Committee included a compromise appropriation of only $675,000 for the unaccompanied youth homelessness line item ($635,000 for the general programs funded by the line item and an earmark of $40,000 for Y2Y Harvard Square). This dramatic decrease in funding from the $2 million FY’17 level will mean that many programs across the state will lose funding. Stay tuned for advocacy next steps for midyear supplemental funding.

Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP, Line Item 7004-9024): The Conference Committee increased MRVP funding to $92.7 million, up from the FY'17 level of $86.5 million, but lower than the increase to $100 million that was included in both the House and Senate budgets.


** Please join the Coalition in asking Governor Charlie Baker to retain the RAFT language and funding increase, as well as the increased MRVP funding. Click here for the Governor's contact information. ** Read our letter to the Governor here.



Please also thank your State Representative and Senator for their work to support of the strongest possible budget for homelessness prevention, housing, and benefits programs. To find your legislators' contact information, please go to https://malegislature.gov/Search/FindMyLegislator

Related Conference Committee Materials:
If you have any feedback from the Governor's office or from your State Representative and Senator, please share it with us: kelly @mahomeless.org or call 781-595-7570 x17.

Thank you so much for your continued support and advocacy!

* The House conferees were Representative Brian Dempsey of Haverhill, Chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means; Representative Stephen Kulik of Worthington, Vice Chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means; and Representative Todd Smola of Warren, the Ranking Minority Member of the House Committee on Ways and Means. The Senate conferees were Senator Karen Spilka of Ashland, Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means; Senator Sal DiDomenico of Everett, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means; and Senator Vinny deMacedo, the Ranking Minority Member of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.








The Rental Arrearage and No Place Like Home Bills Are On the Move!

The Rental Arrearage and No Place Like Home Bills Are On the Move!

Posted July 14, 2017

Great news: Two of our homelessness prevention bills, House Bill 84 and House Bill 114, are on the move! H.84 is An Act to further provide a rental arrearage program, filed by Representative Marjorie Decker
and H. 114 is An Act to prevent homelessness among recipients of transitional assistance (a.k.a. the "No Place Like Home" bill), filed by Representative Denise Provost.

Special thanks to the lead sponsors and cosponsors, the Chairs of the Joint Committee on Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities, Representative Kay Khan and Senator Jennifer Flanagan, and to the full committee. Both bills have been sent to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

Please thank the Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities Committee members, and let House Ways and Means know that you want to see these bills moved forward. Links to their contact information are above, and the State House switchboard number is 617-722-2000.

Thank you!

For more information, please contact Kelly: kelly @mahomeless.org.
Advocating for Homelessness and Housing Programs in the FY'18 Conference Committee Budget

Advocating for Homelessness and Housing Programs in the FY'18 Conference Committee Budget

June 1, 2017; last updated July 1st

Happy New Fiscal Year! Even though it is July 1st, the Conference Committee budget still has not been released. Stay tuned for further details next week. In the meantime, state government continues to fund services and programs through a temporary budget covering the month of July.

* Please sign our one-minute online action to your State Representative and Senator in support of key Conference Committee requests! *

House and Senate Leadership have named the six members of the Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Conference Committee, who will be tasked with working out the differences between the House and Senate budget recommendations. (See their respective $40.8 billion recommendations here: House Bill 3601 and Senate Bill 2076.) The House conferees will be Representative Brian Dempsey of Haverhill, Chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means; Representative Stephen Kulik of Worthington, Vice Chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means; and Representative Todd Smola of Warren, the Ranking Minority Member of the House Committee on Ways and Means. The Senate conferees will be Senator Karen Spilka of Ashland, Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means; Senator Sal DiDomenico of Everett, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means; and Senator Vinny deMacedothe Ranking Minority Member of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.

The conferees will meet throughout the month of June to move closer to finalizing the Legislature's recommendations for the fiscal year that will begin on July 1st. Unfortunately, the conferees will be working with updated, lower consensus revenue estimates, which mean lower appropriations for many line items.

Please join the Coalition in asking your State Representative and Senator to weigh in with the conferees in support of the strongest possible budget for homelessness prevention, housing, and benefits programs. You also can advocate directly with the conferees. To find your legislators' contact information, please go to https://malegislature.gov/Search/FindMyLegislator. The conferees' contact information is available by clicking on their names above.

Conference Committee Materials:
If you have any feedback from your State Representative and Senator, please share it with us: kelly @mahomeless.org or call 781-595-7570 x17.

Thank you so much for your continued support and advocacy!

FY18 Conference Committee Advocacy






Thank Your State Senator for the Senate's FY'18 Budget Recommendations

Thank Your State Senator for the Senate's FY'18 Budget Recommendations


senate twitter thank you part 2

May 31, 2017


Here is a database of the key amendments, which Senators signed on, and their contact information. Please reach out to your State Senator today to thank them for their support of the key amendments and key priorities.  

Find out who your Senator is here, or call the State House switchboard: 617-722-2000.

For more in depth coverage of the FY'18 Senate budget, please follow this link.

Thank you for all of your work thus far to make the FY'18 budget as strong as possible on homelessness, housing, and benefits issues!
Amendment Outcomes: Final House FY'18 Budget Recommendations

Amendment Outcomes: Final House FY'18 Budget Recommendations

Posted April 26th
This week, the Massachusetts House of Representatives debated House Bill 3600, their version of the 2018 state budget for the fiscal year that will begin on July 1st. Representatives filed 1,210 amendments to the House Committee on Ways and Means budget, which was released on April 10th.

Thank you for all of your calls, emails, visits, and completed online actions to Representatives in support of key homelessness, housing, and benefits amendments! The final budget that emerged late last night includes some important improvements as the budget process now heads over to the Senate for the next phase. While many key amendments were not included in the final House budget, the high levels of support for those items will strengthen the likelihood that they will appear in the Conference Committee and final FY'18 budgets.

Please check out our database of the main House amendments for which we advocated, and which House members were sponsors/cosponsors. If your Representative was a sponsor or cosponsor, please thank them today. You can call them via the State House switchboard: 617-722-2000, or look up their contact information via https://malegislature.gov/Search/FindMyLegislator. Check below to see if your Representative was a cosponsor on at least one key amendment and also is on Twitter, and then you can tweet your gratitude. (Twitter handles are listed alphabetically by last name of the House member.) 


twitter cosponsor 1
twitter for facebook
You also can thank Speaker Robert DeLeo (@SpeakerDeLeo, robert.deleo@mahouse.gov) and House Ways and Means Chair Brian Dempsey (brian.dempsey@mahouse.gov) for the positive elements of the House Ways and Means and final House budgets.

Key Amendment Outcomes:

Housing and Services for Unaccompanied Youth and Young Adults (line item 4000-0007): Good news! House leadership included language and partial funding from the unaccompanied youth homelessness amendments, Amendment #1088, filed by Representative Jim O'Day of West Boylston, and Amendment #378, filed by Representative Marjorie Decker of Cambridge. Consolidated Amendment F on Health and Human Services and Elder Affairs includes $540,000 for the line item. It would provide up to $500,000 for the housing and wraparound services for unaccompanied youth and young adults under the age of 25 and an earmark so that no less than $40,000 would go to the Y2Y Harvard Square shelter in Cambridge. For the current fiscal year, FY'17, the line item is funded at $2 million: $1 million in direct appropriations and $1 million carried over from unspent funds from FY'16. The House Ways & Means Committee initially proposed zero funding for the line item for next year, so $540,000 is an important step forward. See the unaccompanied youth amendment fact sheet (updated 4-21-17).

Commission on Unaccompanied Homeless Youth (within line item 4000-0300): House leadership did not include the language and funding from the youth commission amendment, Amendment #1013, in Consolidated Amendment F on Health and Human Services and Elder Affairs. Representative Jim O'Day had filed the amendment to add language and $150,000 in funding to the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) line item, 4000-0300, for the work of the Commission on Unaccompanied Homeless Youth and the annual Massachusetts Youth Count. While it is disappointing that the amendment was not adopted, EOHHS has indicated their intention to keep funding the Commission in FY'18. See the unaccompanied youth amendment fact sheet (updated 4-21-17).

Residential Assistance for Families in Transition Program (RAFT, line item 7004-9316): House leadership did not include the language and funding from the RAFT amendment, Amendment #90, in Consolidated Amendment D on Housing, Mental Health, and Disability Services. The amendment, filed by Representative Marjorie Decker, sought to increase RAFT funds from $15 million to $18.5 million and maintain the FY'17 expanded eligibility language allowing households without children under 21 (such as elders, people with disabilities, unaccompanied youth, and other household types) to access RAFT homelessness prevention benefits. On a positive note, the HWM budget (and final House budget) would increase overall RAFT funding by $2 million, from $13 million to $15 million. See the RAFT amendment fact sheet (updated 4-21-17).

Emergency Assistance (EA, line item 7004-0101): House leadership did not include the language and funding from the EA amendment, Amendment #85, in Consolidated Amendment D on Housing, Mental Health, and Disability Services. The amendment was filed by Representative Marjorie Decker. This means that the final House budget would maintain the current harmful Emergency Assistance eligibility criteria that requires many families to prove that they have stayed in a place not meant for human habitation before being approved for EA shelter or for HomeBASE rehousing/stabilization resources (line item 7004-0108). See the general FY'18 EA campaign fact sheet and the EA amendment fact sheet (updated 4-21-17).

Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children Program (EAEDC, line item 4408-1000): House leadership did not include the language and funding from the EAEDC amendment, Amendment #1055, in Consolidated Amendment E on Social Services and Veterans. This means that the final House budget would maintain the "homelessness penalty" that leaves EAEDC participants experiencing homelessness with drastically reduced monthly benefits as compared to EAEDC participants with housing costs ($92.80/month vs. $303.70/month). Representative Jim O'Day filed the EAEDC amendment to promote dignity, fairness, and opportunity for participants experiencing homelessness. See the EAEDC homelessness penalty fact sheet (updated 4-21-17).

Outcomes for Other Important Amendments: 
    • Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children Program amendment (TAFDC, line item 4403-2000), Amendment #79: The final House budget does not include Representative Marjorie Decker's amendment to "lift the cap on kids" so that children born after a family begins participating in the TAFDC program also would receive vital cash assistance benefits; fact sheet
    • Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program amendments (MRVP, line item 7004-9024), Amendment #382 and Amendment #780The final House budget does not include Representative Mike Connolly's amendment, Amendment #382, to allow MRVP voucher holders to use the subsidies in units that are up to the current fair market rent (instead of 2005 FMR levels), require the Department of Housing and Community Development to issue new subsidies earlier in the fiscal year, and make other improvements to the MRVP program. It also does not include Representative Paul Donato's amendment, Amendment #780, to increase the proposed MRVP funding from $100 million to $120 million.
    • Alternative Housing Voucher Program amendment (AHVP, line item 7004-9030), Amendment #298: The final House budget includes partial funding from Representative Marjorie Decker's amendment. While the original amendment would have increased AHVP funding from $4.85 million to $7.5 million to serve more adults with disabilities who are under the age of 60 and experiencing housing instability, the final House budget added $150,000 to bring the proposal to $5 million.
    • Emergency Assistance amendment (EA, line item 7004-0101), Amendment #344: The final House budget does not include Representative Aaron Vega's amendment that sought to strengthen the tracking and reporting requirements to better understand who is served/not served by the EA program, and to allow families to retain EA benefits without triggering the 6-month time clock if they exceed the income limit for fewer than 90 days.
    • HomeBASE amendment (line item 7004-0108), Amendment #1045: The final House budget does not include Representative Christine Barber's amendment that sought to allow families that are in compliance with their rehousing plans to renew their HomeBASE subsidies for an additional 12 months, reduce the bar on further assistance for families that have been terminated from 24 months to 12 months, and lift the $300,000 cap on funding to families in the domestic violence and substance use treatment shelter programs.
    • End Family Homelessness Reserve Fund amendment (line item 1599-0017), Amendment #1052: The final House budget does not include Representative Kay Khan's amendment that would have reinstated this line item and provided $1 million for the work of the eight regional consortia established last year to coordinate on homelessness and housing issues.
    • Home and Healthy for Good (line item 7004-0104), Amendment #534: The final House budget includes Representative Byron Rushing's amendment to add $200,000 to the Home and Healthy for Good line item, which would increase funding for "housing first" resources for individuals experiencing chronic homelessness. The final House budget would provide $2.2 million for the program.

For background materials, please see the Coalition's House Ways and Means and House debate webpage, our April 13th action alertApril 21st action alert, and our April 24th handout to Representatives.

Thank you!

For more details, email Kelly at kelly @mahomeless.org. 

Join Us to Increase Access to Massachusetts Identification Cards for People Experiencing Homelessness

Join Us to Increase Access to Massachusetts Identification Cards for People Experiencing Homelessness

Obtaining a state identification card is a critical first step for youth and adults experiencing homelessness to accomplish typical life tasks and access opportunities. ID is required for a broad range of life activities, such as:

·         Applying for jobs

·         Enrolling in education programs

·         Getting a library card

·         Picking up a package from the post office

·         Opening financial accounts

·         Entering certain government buildings

·         Accessing services

·         Interacting with law enforcement

Join our campaign to pass legislation to eliminate fees and reduce barriers to accessing Massachusetts identification cards by people experiencing homelessness: An Act To Provide Identification to Homeless Youth and Families, filed by Senator Harriette Chandler (Senate Bill 1906) and Representative Kay Khan (House Bill 2737).

The fact sheet is linked here as a PDF and posted above. If your organization would like to become an official endorser of this campaign, please complete this form.

See related coverage on this issue from the Washington Post: "The invisibles: The cruel Catch-22 of being poor with no ID" (6-15-17).

For more information, please contact Kelly Turley at kelly @mahomeless.org. 
The Coalition's 2017-2018 Bill Priorities

The Coalition's 2017-2018 Bill Priorities

Coalition’s 2017-2018 Legislative Session Bill Priorities: Preventing Homelessness and Improving Quality of Life for Families, Youth, Elders, and People with Disabilities
Last updated 4-6-17


Overview PDF (updated 3-13-17)

1.) An Act Relative to Assisting Elders and People with Disabilities in the Commonwealth
     Lead Sponsors: Representative James O’Day and Senator Patricia Jehlen
     House Bill 2077 (formerly House Docket 2295) and Senate Bill 2039 (formerly Senate Docket 2089)
     Fact sheet (updated 4-6-17)


This bill would: 
  • Increase monthly grants under the Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children Program (EAEDC) to match the benefit levels provided under the Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children Program for households of comparable size
  • Remove the 70% benefit reduction/penalty for individuals experiencing homelessness, who have their average grants reduced from $303.70/month to $92.80/month
  • Increase the allowable personal asset limit from $250 to $2,500
  • Create an annual cost of living adjustment for EAEDC program participants

2.) An Act Providing a Homeless Bill of Rights/An Act Creating a Bill of Rights for People Experiencing Homelessness
     Lead Sponsors: Representative William Smitty Pignatelli and Senator Linda Dorcena Forry
     House Bill 695 (formerly House Docket 1113) and Senate Bill 46 (formerly Senate Docket 1548)
     Fact sheet (updated 4-5-17); organizational endorsement description; online organizational endorsement form
     H.695 sent to the Joint Committee on Housing; S.46 sent to the Joint Committee on Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities


 These bills would:
  • Ensure that people experiencing homelessness have the same rights as any other resident of Massachusetts by seeking to prevent discrimination based on housing status
  • Reinforce the rights to move freely in public spaces, receive equal treatment by municipal agencies, experience freedom from discrimination in employment, receive emergency medical care, register to vote and to vote, experience freedom from unauthorized disclosure of records (in accordance with relevant laws), and have a reasonable expectation of privacy of property
  • Outline these rights as a statement of legislative intent, as a guide for state and municipal agencies

3.) An Act to Further Provide a Rental Arrearage Program
     Lead Sponsor: Representative Marjorie Decker
     House Bill 84 (formerly House Docket 1250)
     Fact sheet on H.659 and H.84
     Sent to the Joint Committee on Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities


This bill would reestablish a rental arrearage program under the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA), based on the successful homelessness prevention program administered by the Department for many years. The new program would continue to provide up to four months of assistance to pay for back rent or mortgage payments, and now would serve families, individuals, and unaccompanied youth with incomes up to 130% of the federal poverty guidelines. Agencies participating in the Interagency Council on Housing and Homelessness would collaborate with DTA to refer potential participants and provide wraparound support services.  


4.) An Act to Protect Families Experiencing Homelessness from Having to Sleep in Unsafe Places
     Lead Sponsor: Representative Marjorie Decker
     House Bill 659 (formerly House Docket 1245)
     Fact sheet on H.659 and H.84organizational endorsement form for bill and budget campaigns
     Sent to the Joint Committee on Housing


This bill would direct the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) to provide Emergency Assistance (EA) shelter to otherwise eligible families with children without requiring families to prove that they already have stayed in a place not meant for human habitation, such as a car, emergency room, or campground.


5.) An Act to End Child Homelessness
     Lead Sponsor: Representative Denise Provost
     House Bill 115 (forrmerly House Docket 969)   
     Sent to the Joint Committee on Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities  
                                                                                                           

This bill would:
  • Protect many children and families who are at imminent risk or experiencing homelessness from having to stay in places not meant for human habitation                     
  • Require the Department of Children and Families (DCF), in consultation with the Department of Housing and Community Development to conduct an assessment to ensure that no child under the age of 18 would be forced to stay in a place not meant for human habitation upon a household’s eviction from subsidized housing or termination from a publicly funded shelter
  • For children at risk of having to stay in such conditions, DCF and DHCD would develop and implement a plan to ensure that they are housed in a safe location, with every reasonable effort being made to keep those children in the care and custody of their parents/guardians

6.) An Act to Prevent Homelessness among Recipients of Transitional Assistance
     Lead sponsor: Representative Denise Provost
     House Bill 114 (formerly House Docket 968)
     Sent to the Joint Committee on Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities         


This bill, also known as the No Place Like Home Bill, would:

  • Establish a homelessness prevention and early intervention program within the Department of Transitional Assistance to give DTA the tools to help families and individuals remain housed.
  • Direct DTA to conduct housing stability screenings for families and individuals participating in DTA’s cash and nutritional assistance programs
  • Create a statewide homelessness prevention fund at DTA, targeting the lowest income family and individual households who are often ineligible for, or unable to access, other resources in a timely way
  • Create escrow accounts for families and individuals experiencing homelessness while they are participating in the Department’s cash assistance programs. Currently, households have their monthly cash assistance grants reduced if they do not have housing expenses. Under the No Place Like Home bill, these funds would be captured and directed into an escrow account to be used by the household to help in obtaining or retaining housing

7.) An Act to Provide Identification to Homeless Youth and Families
      Lead Sponsors: Representative Kay Khan and Senator Harriette Chandler
      House Bill 2737 (formerly House Docket 2272) and Senate Bill 1906 (formerly Senate Docket 1467)
      Both bills sent to the Joint Committee on Transportation


This bill would direct the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) to eliminate fees and reduce barriers for people experiencing homelessness, unaccompanied youth, and others, if needed to ease access to Massachusetts identification cards. 

According to preliminary data from the 2016 Massachusetts Youth Count, 15% of unaccompanied youth and young adults experiencing homelessness reported not being able to access the services and resources needed due to the lack of an identification card.



8.) An Act Relative to the Well Being and Care of a Child
     Lead Sponsors: Representative Marjorie Decker and Senator Sal DiDomenico
     House Bill 85 (formerly House Docket 1262) and Senate Bill 34 (formerly Senate Docket 1762)
     Fact sheet
     Both bills sent to the Joint Committee on Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities  


These bills would eliminate the so-called “family cap rule” that currently prohibits 9,400 children from receiving Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children program (TAFDC) benefits because their family was participating in the TAFDC program at the time of their conception (or shortly thereafter). This punitive and misguided policy has left thousands of Massachusetts families further in poverty. The bill would allow Massachusetts to join 33 other states that do not punish families with such limits on access to vital welfare benefits.


9.) An Act Relative to the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program
     Lead Sponsor: Senator Jamie Eldridge
     Senate Bill 719 (formerly Senate Docket 1163)
     Sent to the Joint Committee on Housing


This bill would put the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP) in state statute, and would connect allowable rent levels to the current fair market rents as established by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. (Currently, households receiving new subsidies are expected to find units at or below the 2005 FMRs, unless a waiver is issued. This makes the housing search process more arduous and sometimes impossible, given the current rental climate in Massachusetts.)


For more information, please contact Kelly Turley at 781-595-7570 x17 or kelly @ mahomeless.org.
Legislative Action Day 2017 Thank You List

Legislative Action Day 2017 Thank You List

We are grateful to each of the speakers, volunteers, attendees, and supporters!

Thank you to everyone who attended Legislative Action Day 2017 and special thanks to all of the people who helped to make the event possible!

Alice Harty, National Association of Social Workers, Massachusetts Chapter
Allie Godsey, Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless
Angela, Rosie's Place
Arlene Snyder, Bridge Over Troubled Waters
Ayanna Clark and the State House Events team
Barbara Barnes, Volunteer
Carlos Betancourt, PACE, Inc.
Catherine Wechsler, Boston College Media Technology Services
Charles Dietrick, Volunteer
Chris Soldt, Boston College Media Technology Services
Councillor Marc McGovern and Jamila Bradley, City of Cambridge
Dick Bauer, Greater Boston Legal Services
Donna Palombo, Boston Ward 21 Democratic Committee
Dr. Amanda Stewart, Boston Children's Hospital
Dr. Jennifer Hoffman, Boston Children's Hospital
Gena Frank, Office of State Representative Smitty Pignatelli
Henry De Lima, Charles Group Consulting
Janelle, Rosie's Place
Kate Saville, Charles Group Consulting
Kevin Lilly, Samaritans Steps
Latrese and Haley House Bakery Cafe
Lauren Leonardis, Massachusetts Commission on Unaccompanied Homeless Youth
Lerae Kroon, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Lucy Costa, Volunteer
Lynetta, Greater Boston Legal Services
Madeligne Tena, Mandela Residents Cooperative Association
Marybeth Bacigalupo-Worden, Worcester Fellowship
Natalie Hill, Volunteer
Rachel Lochner, Rosie's Place
Representative Denise Provost and Jordan Neerhof
Representative Jim O'Day and Cinda Danh
Representative Kay Khan, Lisa Rosenfeld, and Lauren Matteodo
Representative Kevin Honan and Colette Irving
Roxanne Reddington-Wilde, Action for Boston Community Development
Ruth Bourquin, Greater Boston Legal Services
Senator Jamie Eldridge and Danillo Sena
Senator Joseph Boncore and Kathi Young
Senator Pat Jehlen and Tara Smith
Stuart Figuero, Charles Group Consulting
Governor Baker's FY'18 Budget Recommendations

Governor Baker's FY'18 Budget Recommendations

January 25, 2017; last updated February 1st

Today, Governor Charlie Baker released his recommendations for the state's 2018 state budget for the fiscal year that will begin on July 1st. (The budget also is available on the Legislature's website.) Coming in at $40.5 billion, the Governor's budget includes positive and negative recommendations on homelessness. housing, and benefits issues.

On the plus side, Governor Baker proposes an $11 million increase to the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program from $86.5 million to $97.5 million (line item 7004-9024; see related Boston Globe coverage) and $1 million to expand access to housing courts.

He also proposed level funding of $2 million for housing and services for unaccompanied youth and young adults, line item 4000-0007. This is below our request of $4 million, but at least would not undo important gains on youth homelessness.  

On the minus side, the Governor once again proposed drastic cuts to TAFDC welfare benefits for an estimated 5,800 families with disabilities by counting SSI benefits received by parents (line item 4403-2000; see related Boston Globe coverage). 

The Governor reverted to old RAFT eligibility language in line item 7004-9316, which would cut access to Residential Assistance for Families in Transition homelessness prevention benefits for households without children. For FY'17, the definition of family was expanded to include elders, people with disabilities, unaccompanied youth, and all household types. The Coalition is seeking to maintain the expanded eligibility and increase overall funding from $13 million to $18.5 million.

The Governor also is seeking to maintain current harmful Emergency Assistance (EA) eligibility criteria that requires many families to prove that they have stayed in a place not meant for human habitation before being approved for EA shelter (line item 7004-0101) or for HomeBASE rehousing/stabilization resources (line item 7004-0108).


More details can be found in our spreadsheet of key line items and our email update dated January 31st.