Advocacy

FY 2019

The Legislature's FY'19 Budget Has Been Sent to the Governor

The Legislature's FY'19 Budget Has Been Sent to the Governor

We are pleased that the budget contains most of the Coalition's top priorities. Please ask Governor Baker to preserve key language and investments.

July 18, 2018, updated July 19th

After an extended period of budget negotiations, the FY’19 Budget Conference Committee has completed its work, and has sent their recommendations to the full House and Senate. The $41.88 billion Conference Committee budget, House Bill 4800, incorporates many positive recommendations, including:

·         Senate-proposed funding of $3.3 million for housing and wraparound services for unaccompanied youth and young adults experiencing homelessness (line item 4000-0007), matching the Coalition’s Conference Committee request

·         Senate-proposed language on maintaining the expanded definition of family for the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition homelessness prevention program (RAFT, line item 7004-9316), and $20 million in funding, exceeding the House’s and Senate’s initial recommendations, as well as the Coalition’s request of $18.5 million

·         Senate-proposed language on the Emergency Assistance family shelter and services program to ensure that the Department of Housing and Community Development continues to take in-person applications in the ten cities and towns with offices as of January 1, 2018, as well as Senate-proposed language to protect families that exceed the income eligibility limit for fewer than 90 days from being terminated (EA, line item 7004-0101), matching parts of the Coalition’s Conference Committee request

·         House-proposed language and funding on eliminating the homelessness penalty in the Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children program (EAEDC, line item 4408-1000), so that participants experiencing homelessness will receive the full EAEDC grant: $303.70/month for a household of one, instead of the reduced grant of $92.80/month for a household of one, matching the Coalition’s Conference Committee request

·         House-proposed funding of $100 million on the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP, line item 7004-9024), matching the Coalition’s Conference Committee request

·         Senate-proposed language to increase the maximum benefit under the HomeBASE program (line item 7004-0108) from $8,000/year/family up to $10,000, matching the Coalition’s Conference Committee request

·         House and Senate improvements to the Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children program (TAFDC, line item 403-2000 and Outside Sections): House and Senate language on eliminating the family cap rule, Senate-proposed language on implementing the family cap repeal by January 1, 2019, Senate-proposed language on increasing the annual children’s clothing allowance to $350/child, and House-proposed language to increase the TAFDC asset limit from $2,500 to $5,000.

Unfortunately, the Conference Committee did not include Senate-proposed language to prevent families from having to stay in places not meant for human habitation before being able to access EA. (Related legislation, House Bill 659, still is pending in House Ways and Means.)

The Conference Committee budget was approved by the House and Senate on July 18th, and sent to Governor Charlie Baker. He has 10 days to sign the budget and issue any vetoes. With the Legislature scheduled to end formal sessions for this two-year legislative cycle on Tuesday, July 31st, there will not be much time for legislators to override any gubernatorial vetoes, so please reach out to Governor Baker today to ask him to preserve the important investments and budget language listed above. ** Here's our one-minute online action to the Governor for you to sign and share,as well as the Coalition's letter to the Governor. **

In addition, please take a few minutes to thank your State Senator and Representative for their efforts to create a strong budget, and ask them to push for any needed veto overrides. You can look up your elected officials on www.wheredoivotema.com

Please also thank the Conference Committee members: Senate Ways and Means Chair Karen Spilka, Senate Ways and Means Vice Chair Joan Lovely, Senate Ways and Means Ranking Minority Member Viriato (Vinny) deMacedo, House Ways and Means Chair Jeffrey Sánchez, House Ways and Means Vice Chair Stephen Kulik, and House Ways and Means Ranking Minority Member Todd Smola, as well as Senate President Harriette Chandler and House Speaker Robert DeLeo.


Thank you for your sustained advocacy!
FY'19 Budget Advocacy: Advocating for the Strongest Possible Conference Committee Budget

FY'19 Budget Advocacy: Advocating for the Strongest Possible Conference Committee Budget

June 1, 2018; last updated July 9th


** Please sign and share our one-minute online action to the Conference Committee Chairs, Senator Karen Spilka and Representative Jeff Sanchez, as well as our one-minute online action to your State Representative and Senator in support of the Coalition's Conference Committee budget priorities. Thanks! As of July 9th, the Conference Committee budget has yet to be released.**

At the end of May, the State Senate wrapped up their budget. Yesterday, Legislative Leadership announced the three House and three Senate members who will make up the FY'19 budget Conference Committee. They are Senate Ways and Means Chair Karen Spilka, Senate Ways and Means Vice Chair Joan Lovely, Senate Ways and Means Ranking Minority Member Viriato (Vinny) deMacedo, House Ways and Means Chair Jeffrey Sánchez, House Ways and Means Vice Chair Stephen Kulik, and House Ways and Means Ranking Minority Member Todd Smola.

Please reach out to your State Legislators and the conferees to ask them to do all they can to make sure that the final budget includes:


Your advocacy will be critical in the weeks ahead. The Conference Committee will aim to complete their work in June, in advance of the July 1st start of fiscal year 2019.

Please stay tuned as this page will be further updated with additional materials.

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6/24 Forum in Jamaica Plain: A Discussion on Family and Individual Homelessness

6/24 Forum in Jamaica Plain: A Discussion on Family and Individual Homelessness

A Discussion on Family and Individual Homelessness


Sunday, June 24, 2018, 2:00-4:00 PM

First Baptist Church
633 Centre St. 
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130
Facebook event page

Thank you to everyone who joined us! Together we can help to end homelessness.

Speakers:

• Lynnette Martin, Advocate/Mother who recently experienced homelessness
“Testimony of a Homeless Mom…a Cold Overnight in March”

• Dustin Pardy, Advocate/Member of the Boston Youth Action Board
“Taking Action to End Youth and Young Adult Homelessness”

• State Representative Jeffrey Sanchez, Representative for the 15th Suffolk District, and Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee
“Help for People Experiencing Homelessness in the Proposed 2019 State Budget”

• State Representative Marjorie Decker, Representative for the 25th Middlesex District
“Improving Access to Emergency Shelter for Families”

• Kelly Turley, Associate Director, Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless
“How We Can Help”


Sponsors:


Advocacy Network to End Family Homelessness, Boston Tenant Coalition, City Mission, First Baptist Church JP, Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation, JP Progressives, Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless, and Urban Edge.


RSVP:


Please RSVP here.


Accessibility:


First Baptist Church is wheelchair accessible.

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Related Action Alert

FY'19 Budget Advocacy: Senate Amendments to Improve Homelessness Prevention, Housing, and Benefit Programs

FY'19 Budget Advocacy: Senate Amendments to Improve Homelessness Prevention, Housing, and Benefit Programs

May 14, 2018, last updated on May 25th

*Read about the Senate debate outcomes here and below. * 

As we posted previously, the Senate Committee on Ways and Means ("Senate Ways and Means" or "SWM") released its fiscal year 2019 budget recommendations for the Commonwealth on May 10th. Read about key highlights in our recent Senate budget release action alert

While the SWM budget was strong, we worked with Senators who filed several key amendments. Thank you to everyone who signed our one-minute online action and asked their State Senator to cosponsor these amendments and actively support them in caucuses, conversations with Senate Leadership, and debates. Please see our overview sheet for Senatorsamendment action alert, and sample script, as well as more details below.

- Emergency Assistance family shelter program (EA): Senator Barbara L'Italien filed Amendment #533 to ensure that families with children that are experiencing homelessness can file in-person applications for family shelter with staff from the Department of Housing and Community Development in at least the ten cities and towns that had offices as of January 1, 2018. This is in response to efforts to shift to a more telephonically based system, which would present challenges to many families lacking access to phones, computers, scanners, and fax machines. The amendment would add language to the DHCD administrative line item, 7004-0099, to maintain in-person application sites (in addition to telephonic options.)EA amendment fact sheet

Amendment outcome: We are happy to report that this amendment passed unanimously on a roll call vote! We will work to make sure that the Conference Committee includes the Senate language on maintaining in-person access to Emergency Assistance applications, and will share next steps soon. In the meantime, please thank your Senator for passing it. Special thanks to Senator L'Italien for speaking on the Senate floor about the importance of maintaining statewide in-person access to applications, and to Senate President Harriette Chandler, Senate Ways and Means Chair Karen Spilka, and Senate Ways and Means Vice Chair Joan Lovely for all of their work to pass the amendment.

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-Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT):  We were thrilled to see that the SWM budget included the full recommended funding for RAFT of $18.5 million, as well as language to maintain access for elders, people with disabilities, and unaccompanied youth. Senator Jamie Eldridge filed Amendment #680 to tweak the language in line item 7004-9316 so that at least $3 million is set aside for households without children under the age of 21, instead of no more than $3 millionRAFT amendment fact sheet

Amendment outcome:
 We are happy to report that this amendment passed! (It passed on a simple voice vote, not a roll call vote.) We will work to make sure that the Conference Committee includes the Senate language and funding for RAFT, and will share next steps soon. In the meantime, please thank your Senator for passing it. Special thanks to Senator Eldridge for speaking on the Senate floor on the critical need to expand access to and funding for homelessness prevention resources for individuals, and to Senate Leadership for their work to pass the amendment.

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- Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children program (EAEDC): Senator Pat Jehlen filed Amendment #453 to remove the EAEDC homelessness penalty so that participants experiencing homelessness receive full monthly grants of $303.70/month instead of only $92.80/month. Based on FY’18 numbers year-to-date, an estimated 542 individuals would benefit each month from this change, at a cost of only $1.4 million/year. The amendment would add language to line item 4408-1000. EAEDC amendment fact sheet

Amendment outcome: Unfortunately, this amendment was rejected, but the language still is alive for the Conference Committee deliberations, as it was included in the House version of the budget. Please thank your Senator if they are listed in the amendment link above as a cosponsor.

To call your Senator, you can dial the State House switchboard: 617-722-2000. You also can look up who your Senator is via www.wheredoivotema.com. Please let us know if you receive any feedback from your Senator in response to your outreach.

We anticipate the Conference Committee members officially will be named by the first week in June. The Conference Committee will aim to develop a consensus budget by late June, before the new fiscal year begins on July 1st. We will send out a follow-up action alert then with the next steps.

Thank you for all of your advocacy!













FY'19 Budget Advocacy: The Senate Ways and Means Budget Has Been Released

FY'19 Budget Advocacy: The Senate Ways and Means Budget Has Been Released

May 10, 2018, last updated May 11th

Today, the Senate Committee on Ways and Means ("Senate Ways and Means" or "SWM") released its fiscal year 2019 budget recommendations for the Commonwealth. The $41.42 billion budget was created under the leadership of Senate Ways and Means Chairwoman Karen Spilka and Senate President Harriette Chandler. Click here for a complete list of Senate Ways and Means members and committee staff.

The budget was very strong on homelessness prevention, housing, and benefits issues. Read about key highlights in our recent action alert.

Linked here and pasted below is our preliminary analysis of how key homelessness prevention, housing, emergency services, and benefits programs fared, as compared to our budget priorities.

While the budget was strong, we are working with Senators to file several key amendments:

- Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children program (EAEDC): Senator Pat Jehlen is filing an amendment to remove the EAEDC homelessness penalty so that participants experiencing homelessness receive full monthly grants of $303.70/month instead of $92.80/month.

-Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT): We were thrilled to see that the SWM budget included the full recommended funding for RAFT of $18.5 million, as well as language to maintain access for elders, people with disabilities, and unaccompanied youth. We are working with Senator Jamie Eldridge to tweak the language so that at least $3 million is set aside for households without children under the age of 21.

- Emergency Assistance family shelter program (EA): Senator Barbara L'Italien is filing an amendment to ensure that families experiencing homelessness can file in-person applications for family shelter with staff from the Department of Housing and Community Development in at least the ten cities and towns that had offices as of January 1, 2018. This is in response to efforts to shift to a more telephonically based system, which would present challenges to many families lacking access to phones, computers, scanners, and fax machines.

We also are working with partner agencies on additional homelessness, housing, and benefits amendments. Check back on this page for more details on Senate budget amendments after the filing deadline of Monday, May 14th at noon. The full Senate will debate the budget starting on Tuesday, May 22nd.

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FY'19 Budget Advocacy: Amendments to Improve Homelessness Prevention, Housing, and Benefit Programs

FY'19 Budget Advocacy: Amendments to Improve Homelessness Prevention, Housing, and Benefit Programs

April 13, 2018, last updated April 23rd

The House budget debate is underway! The debate began today (April 23rd) and is scheduled to go until Thursday.

Friday, April 13th, was the deadline for State Representatives to file amendments to the House Committee on Ways and Means ("House Ways and Means" or "HWM")
 fiscal year 2019 budget recommendations. We are working with Representatives Marjorie Decker and Jim O'Day to file key amendments related to the Emergency Assistance family shelter and services program (EA, line item 7004-0101), housing and services for unaccompanied youth and young adults (line items 4000-0007 and 4000-0300), and the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition homelessness prevention program (RAFT, line item 7004-9316).

Please ask your Representative to cosponsor the amendments listed below today. You can find out your Representative's name and contact information via www.wheredoivotema.com. If you do reach out to your Representative, let us know the response. Here is our April 18th action alert.

Key Amendments

Overview sheet for Representatives 

* See a list of amendment cosponsors, and our longer list of important amendments, on this House amendment Google Doc. This document will be updated frequently. *

- The HWM budget would increase funding for the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition program (RAFT, line item 7004-9316) from $15 million to $17 million, but it does not include the expanded definition of family so that unaccompanied youth, elders, and people with disabilities also can access RAFT homelessness prevention resources. RAFT amendment fact sheet (updated 4-18-18)

Representative Marjorie Decker has filed a RAFT amendment, Amendment #1328, to restore the expanded definition of family, increase overall funding to $18.5 million, and make sure that at least $3 million will be made available to households without children under 21.

Follow the amendment link above to see if your Representative has signed on already. If not, p
lease ask your Representative to cosponsor this amendment through the online LAWS system. 


- The House Ways and Means budget would retain harmful, current eligibility language that allows the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) to deny Emergency Assistance (EA, line item 7004-0101) shelter access to families that have not yet stayed in places not meant for human habitation.

Representative Marjorie Decker has filed two Emergency Assistance amendments: Amendment #1301 to create a $300,000 pilot to allow otherwise eligible families to access EA before having to prove that they have stayed in places not meant for human habitation and Amendment #1308 to ensure that DHCD does not further restrict families' rights to apply for EA in person by maintaining in-person application sites (in addition to telephonic options.) EA amendment fact sheet

Follow the amendment links above to see if your Representative has signed on already. If not, please ask your Representative to cosponsor these amendments through the online LAWS system. 



- The House Ways and Means budget would provide $1 million for housing and services for unaccompanied youth and young adults under the age of 25 who are experiencing homelessness out on their own (line item 4000-0007). This would be an increase over the $675,000 FY'18 funding level, but less than the amount needed to provide adequate statewide resources. 

Representative Jim O'Day has filed two youth homelessness amendments: Amendment #1173 to increase the funding for youth housing and services to $4 million in line item 4000-0007 and Amendment #1177 to include specific language in the Executive Office of Health and Human Services line item to provide $150,000 for the work of the Massachusetts Commission on Unaccompanied Homeless Youth in line item 4000-0300. Youth homelessness amendment fact sheet

Follow the amendment links above to see if your Representative has signed on already. If not, please ask your Representative to cosponsor these amendments through the online LAWS system. 


- Currently, the Coalition is working with Representative Kay Khan and Senate President Harriette Chandler to move forward legislation to ease access to Massachusetts IDs for people experiencing homelessness (House Bill 2737/Senate Bill 1906). Both bills are pending in their respective Committee on Ways and Means.

Representative Khan has filed an amendment, Amendment #802, to incorporate the bill language into the FY'19 budget. Mass ID amendment fact sheet

Follow the amendment link above to see if your Representative has signed on already. If not, please ask your Representative to cosponsor this amendment through the online LAWS system. 

Please also see our House Ways and Means budget page for our preliminary analysis of how key homelessness prevention, housing, emergency services, and benefits programs fared in the HWM budget, as compared to our budget priorities.

Check back on this page for more details and updates.

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Legislative Action Day 2018: Thank You for Joining Us on Tuesday, February 27th

Legislative Action Day 2018: Thank You for Joining Us on Tuesday, February 27th

Last updated March 1, 2018

*
Legislative Action Day Follow-Up Action: Please take one-minute to sign our latest online action to support deeper investments in homelessness prevention, housing, cash assistance, and emergency services.*

Thank you to everyone who participated in Legislative Action Day 2018 on Tuesday, February 27th! The event was held at the Massachusetts State House in Boston, hosted by Representative Jim O'Day. We are grateful to everyone who raised their voice to help end homelessness!

Click here to download the flyer (PDF).

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The day began with registration and a light breakfast at 9 a.m. The legislative speakers included Representative Jim O'Day, Senate President Harriette Chandler, Senator Pat Jehlen, Senator Joe Boncore, and Senator Jamie Eldridge, and State House staffer, Cinda Danh. We also had speakers from Worcester Fellowship, Boston Youth Advisory Board, the Massachusetts Poor People's Campaign, Glass House Shelter Project, Boston Center for Independent Living, Women's Lunch Place, and other allied organizations who shared their lived experiences of homelessness and housing instability. The agenda is available here. (Please note that due to the untimely death of Representative Peter Kocot, a true friend of the Coalition, several of the previously scheduled legislative speakers were unable to attend.)

Photos from the day are available here. Special thanks to our main photographer, Kevin Lilly!

Read our press release and media advisory.

Here is some of the Legislative Action Day media and online coverage:

 - Homeless advocates to converge on Massachusetts State House

 - Chandler: State Senate 'ready to go' on housing bill
 - "Homeless, not worthless"

Fact sheets for our overall budget priorities, top four budget priorities (Emergency Assistance, housing and services for unaccompanied youth and young adults, Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children program, and the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition program), and details about our bill priorities are on the Current Policy Campaigns page. We also have an online spreadsheet with details and status updates on our bill priorities.

A key part of the day were meetings with state legislators and their staff to talk about why participants support investments in housing, homelessness prevention, emergency shelter, income support programs, and related resources. If you are doing additional meetings, here are some tips to help guide your legislative meetings (PDF).

If you met or called your legislators as part of Legislative Action Day, please complete this online response form to share your feedback.


Thank you also to everyone who participated in our training call on Tuesday, February 13th to help participants prepare for the day. 



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