Public Policy Advocacy

The Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless has a rich three-decade history as a leader in the fight to prevent and end homelessness here in the Commonwealth. The agency is steadfast in our belief that homelessness can be resolved by supplying safe, affordable, permanent housing for the lowest income households and providing opportunities for families, individuals, and youth to build economic stability. To achieve these goals, the Coalition and our members undertake campaigns in support of affordable housing, homelessness prevention, income and benefit programs, and access to education.

Voting

Are you registered to vote? If you are eligible to vote, registering to vote and showing up on Primary Day and Election Day can be key advocacy tools for addressing homelessness and housing insecurity here in Massachusetts. Register to vote online (or begin the process) through the Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth's website. ** Even if you lack a permanent address, you still can register to vote if you are otherwise eligible. **


Current Policy Campaigns

 ** Legislative Action Day 2019 is almost here! Please register to join us at the State House on Thursday, February 28, 2019, and read more about the event here. **

2019-2020 Bill Priority Campaigns:

- Overview chart and overview sheet for legislators (PDF)


- Re-establish a statewide rental arrearage program to help households avoid homelessness by providing back rent assistance: House Docket 2395, filed by Representative Marjorie Decker; fact sheet (updated 2-19-19); endorsing organizations (updated 2-21-19); background informationRent Arrearage Assistance Program (RAAP) organizational endorsement form

- Ensure that families experiencing homelessness do not have to stay in a place not meant for human habitation before being eligible for Emergency Assistance (EA) family shelter and services: House Docket 2406, filed by Representative Marjorie Decker; fact sheetEA campaign organizational endorsement form

- Ease access to standard Massachusetts ID cards for people experiencing homelessness by eliminating the $25 fee and allowing alternative ways to verify Massachusetts residency without requiring a permanent address: Senate Docket 667 and House Docket 1263, filed by Senator Harriette Chandler and Representative Kay Khan, respectively; fact sheetEveryone Needs ID Mass ID access campaign organizational endorsement form

- Establish a bill of rights for people experiencing homelessness: Senate Docket 1952 and House Docket 2776, filed by Senator Becca Rausch and Representative Smitty Pignatelli, respectively; fact sheetbill of rights campaign organizational endorsement form

- Promote the safety, dignity, and civil rights of people experiencing homelessness: Senate Docket 1950 and House Docket 3764, filed by Senator Becca Rausch and Representative Liz Miranda, respectively; endorse this campaign via the bill of rights organizational endorsement form


- Improve the Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children program (EAEDC): Senate Docket 1382 and House Docket 605, filed by Senator Pat Jehlen and Representative Jim O'Day, respectively; fact sheetEAEDC campaign organizational endorsement form

- Eliminate the so-called “family cap rule” that currently prohibits 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): Senate Docket 1452 and House Docket 3043filed by Senator Sal DiDomenico and Representative Marjorie Decker, respectively 

- Increase monthly grant levels in the TAFDC and EAEDC programs to lift households out of deep poverty: Senate Docket 1328 and House Docket 2367, filed by Senator Sal DiDomenico and Representative Marjorie Decker, respectively; fact sheet 

- Improve the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP) by making important program changes, including allowing tenants to use their subsidies in units at the current fair market rent instead of 2005 fair market rent level and establishing the program in state statute and not just the annual state budget: Senate Docket 864 and House Docket 3872, filed by Senator Jamie Eldridge and Representative Adrian Madaro, respectively

- Protect many children and families who are at imminent risk or experiencing homelessness from having to stay in places not meant for human habitation by delaying a household’s eviction from subsidized housing or termination from a publicly funded shelter until safe, alternative housing or shelter is found: House Docket 1356 - PDF, filed by Representative Denise Provost


- Increase the number of housing units created, reduce barriers to housing production, and set goals for the production of housing affordable to the lowest income households: Senate Docket 1640 and House Docket 3379, filed by Senator Joe Boncore and Representative Kevin Honan, respectively

- Establish a right to legal counsel in eviction cases: Senate Docket 625, filed by Senator Sal DiDomenico; Boston Globe coverage of the right to counsel bill, "As rents soar in Boston, low-income tenants try to stave off eviction"

- Allow cities and towns to increase revenue for affordable housing by choosing to establish real estate transfer fees: Senate Docket 334 and House Docket 414, filed by Senator Joe Boncore and Representative Mike Connolly, respectively; fact sheet


FY'20 Budget Campaigns:


Here is our preliminary FY'20 budget chart comparing current FY'19 appropriations, the Coalition's requests for FY'20, and the proposed funding and language advanced by the Governor in his House 1 budget recommendations, released on January 23, 2019. The chart includes priorities such as campaigns to:
  • Increase funding for housing and services for unaccompanied youth and young adults experiencing homelessness (line item 4000-0007): We are working to increase funding for this Executive Office of Health and Human Services program so as to better serve and partner with youth and young adults age 24 and younger who are without homes. We are working to secure $5 million for the line item in FY'20, up from the FY'19 funding level of $3.3 million. A funding level of $5 million would provide increased housing and wraparound services to youth and young adults experiencing homelessness and housing instability. Funds would go through the 10 regional agencies selected in FY'19 to administer the program, in conjunction with numerous partner organizations. See more details on our unaccompanied youth homelessness pageSign on your organization as a campaign endorser today.
  • Increase funding for the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition homelessness prevention program (RAFT, line item 7004-9316): We are working to increase RAFT funding from $20 million to $27 million to serve more families with children, unaccompanied youth, young adults, elders, people with disabilities, and other households without minor children, and to create an upstream homelessness prevention pilot program within RAFT to help households pay off back rent/back mortgage bills before eviction and foreclosure processes are formally underway.
  • Improve access to the Emergency Assistance family shelter and services (line item 7004-0101): Ensure that families experiencing homelessness are able to access EA if they are otherwise eligible except for not yet having stayed in a place not meant for human habitation, such as an emergency room, car, campground, or laundromat; ensure that the Department of Housing and Community Development maintains in-person application sites where families can apply for EA; and allow families to increase their incomes up to 200% of the federal poverty guidelines before the clock starts to terminate families for being overincome.
  • Increase funding for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP, line item 7004-9024): We are working to increase MRVP funding from $100 million to $130 million and to ensure a better match between actual rent levels and the subsidy levels.
  • Increase funding for the Alternative Housing Voucher Program (AHVP, line item 7004-9030): We are working to increase AHVP funding from $6.15 million to $8 million so that the program can serve more individuals under the age of 60 who are living with disabilties and have extremely low incomes.
  • Preserve improvements to the Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children Program (EAEDC, line item 4408-1000): Maintain FY'19 budget language to provide full grants to EAEDC program participants while they are experiencing homelessness, instead of imposing the previous homelessness penalty.
Please take a few minutes to support deeper investments in homelessness prevention, housing, cash assistance, and emergency services, as lawmakers develop the fiscal year 2020 state budget and move other bills forward in the 2019-2020 legislative session. Contact your State Representative and State Senator in support of the budget and bill campaigns listed above.

You can reach your legislators by calling the State House switchboard at 617-722-2000, and you can look up their contact information on the Legislature's website or at www.wheredoivotema.com.



Recent Legislative Campaigns


FY'19 Budget Campaigns:
2017-2018 Bill Priority Campaigns:
Interested in reading about older campaigns? Please see www.mahomeless.org/advocacy/item/past-policy-campaigns.