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Emergency Assistance Program: Documents Related to FY'13 Proposed Regulation Changes

On July 17, 2012, the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) provided advance notice to the Legislature of its intention to implement severe eligibility restrictions for the Emergency Assistance (EA) family shelter and services program. Some of these changes are set to take effect in 15 days and others in 60 days, unless we are able to get the Governor and Legislature to intervene.

Updates:

June 12, 2013: Thank you to all of the organizations that quickly responded to our call to action by signing onto the letter to the FY'14 budget conferees on using RAFT funds to provide temporary accommodations to families at imminent risk of staying in places not meant for human habitation. You can read the letter from the Coalition to Protect Homeless Families and allied organizations here.

May 6, 2013: Tomorrow is our call-in day to State Senators in support of EA and HomeBASE. Please see our latest alert for more details. In addition to tomorrow's call-in day, we are encouraging organizations to send a letter to Senate Leadership in support of EA and HomeBASE. A sample letter can be found here. Please send your letter this week, and let us know that you did by emailing Kelly at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

May 2, 2013: Please participate in a call-in day to State Senators on Emergency Assistance and HomeBASE next Tuesday, May 7th, in advance of the Senate budget debate. We are asking Senators to help secure language in the FY'14 budget that would require the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) to provide Emergency Assistance shelter and services to families who are at imminent risk of staying in places not meant for human habitation and to make sure that families who are timing out of the HomeBASE rental assistance program do not return to homelessness. Please ask your State Senator to share her/his strong support for these initiatives with Senate Leadership and throughout the Senate budget process. Senators can be reached via the State House switchboard at 617-722-2000 and identified via www.wheredoivotema.com. Here is the latest EA fact sheet.

April 30, 2013: The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center has released a new report, "Shelter, Housing, and Homelessness Policy in Massachusetts". The report looks at recent housing and homelessness policies in Massachusetts, and concludes with this statement, "Until there are sufficient resources to help low-income families' secure affordable housing, the state's shelter system is an important safety net that prevents parents and their children from sleeping in places not meant for human habitation."

April 12, 2013: Representative Kay Khan will be filing an amendment today to the House Ways and Means budget to provide shelter to families at imminent risk of staying in places not meant for human habitation. Click here for a fact sheet. In addition, Representative Byron Rushing will be filing a HomeBASE amendment. His amendment would make it clear that families receiving HomeBASE maintain their homelessness preference for subsidized housing; ensure that families receiving HomeBASE rental assistance are eligible for shelter, RAFT, and HomeBASE household assistance, if needed; and extend HomeBASE rental assistance to up to 36 month for families who otherwise would be facing a return to homelessness. Please ask your State Representative to co-sponsor these amendments and to strongly support them during the upcoming caucuses and budget debate. 

April 9, 2013: Today, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute released a new report, "Out in the Cold: Homeless Children in Crisis in Massachusetts", on the impact of the recent EA changes on families across the Commonwealth. Click here to read this important and eye-opening report.

March 25, 2013: Since the EA regulation changes went into effect last fall, at least 162 families first stayed in places not meant for human habitation before being approved for shelter. This number is based on DHCD's own weekly reports. Click here to see a chart of DHCD's data compiled by the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute. At an average cost of $100/night of shelter, the state could have provided these families with shelter a day or two earlier, while they still only were at imminent risk of staying in such places, at a cost of only $32,400 (162 families x $100/night x 2 nights). Based on these numbers, we anticipate that the annualized cost of providing shelter to families at imminent risk of staying in places not meant for human habitation to be between $60,000 - $100,000, a tiny investment to keep children and families out of harm's way.

February 7, 2013: Senator Katherine Clark of Melrose will be filing the EA amendment on the Senate side, in advance of next week's caucus and debate. Please ask your State Senator to strongly endorse this amendment, as a co-sponsor and supporter. Here is the Coalition to Protect Homeless Families' Senate fact sheet.

February 6, 2013: Special thanks to Representative Denise Provost of Somerville and Representative Kay Khan of Newton for filing Amendment #41 to the supplemental budget, which would provide shelter to families who are at imminent risk of sleeping in places not meant for human habitation! Although the amendment did not pass, it is important to keep up the pressure so that more children are not put in harm's way.

February 5, 2013: Please ask your State Legislators to support the inclusion of key Emergency Assistance language in the pending supplemental budget that will be debated tomorrow in the House and next week in the Senate. Here's our latest fact sheet with more details.

January 28, 2013: Please check out and share this video created by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute and Joe Oliverio with footage from this fall's Emergency Assistance hearings. Help us ensure that families at imminent risk of having to stay in a place not meant for human habitation are allowed to access emergency shelter!

January 22, 2013: Please take a minute to add your name to this petition asking the Legislature to ensure access to shelter for families at imminent risk of staying in places not meant for human habitation. Thanks to Michaelann of Arise for Social Justice for initiating this petition!

January 18, 2013: Here's the latest fact sheet for legislators from the Coalition to Protect Homeless Families on the need to add language to the Emergency Assistance line item to require DHCD to provide shelter to eligible families who otherwise will have to stay in places not meant for human habitation. We are hoping that legislators will include the suggested language when addressing the Governor's supplemental budget request (House Bill 43). Please share this fact sheet with legislators and encourage them to support these critical changes!

January 8, 2013: Here is Boston Neighborhood Network News' coverage of the EA crisis, featuring Dr. Megan Sandel of Children's HealthWatch/Boston Medical Center and the Coalition's Kelly Turley (starting at the 12:59 mark).

December 12, 2012: Thanks to everyone who participated in today's powerful "March for Homeless Families" organized by our friends at Rosie's Place! Here are some photos and CNN iReport coverage.

December 7, 2012: Today DHCD's new regulations restricting access to shelter became final... but with our advocacy, "final" can become "history"!

November 29, 2012: Rosie's Place is planning a march from the State House to DHCD's central office in Downtown Boston on 12-12-12 at 12 noon, to continue to raise concerns about the new family shelter regulations. As part of the march, Rosie's Place and allies will be delivering a symbolic 51-A report of abuse and neglect to DHCD. Please plan to join us and spread the word! For more information, please click here.

November 26, 2012: The Coalition and Massachusetts Law Reform Institute have issued an updated memo in response to the final regulations, based on a meeting we had with DHCD and subsequent conversations. We will continue to work with DHCD and the Legislature to try to make critical changes to strengthen the safety net for very vulnerable families. Here also are the regulations as filed by DHCD with the Secretary of State's office on Friday. The regulations are scheduled to take effect on Friday, December 7th.

November 21, 2012: DHCD is set to finalize the Emergency Assistance regulations this Friday. Some important changes will be made in the regulations and subregulatory materials due to the powerful advocacy from so many angles. More changes are needed, however, especially in terms of serving families at imminent risk of having to stay in a place not meant for human habitation and having a reasonable standard to capture families in very unstable, highly mobile double-up situations. Here is an initial response to DHCD and the Legislature from the Coalition and Massachusetts Law Reform Institute.

November 19, 2012: As Thanksgiving and the finalization of the new EA regulations approach, please participate in a call-in day tomorrow, Tuesday, 11/20 to ask Governor Patrick, Senate President Murray, and Speaker DeLeo to remove Emergency Assistance family shelter eligibility restrictions! Click here for a flyer with more details. 

November 8, 2012: Did you miss the EA hearing in Boston on October 25th? Click here to see compelling videos of people who provided oral testimony. Special thanks to Tom Brant, who videotaped the footage, Joe Oliverio, who uploaded the videos, and to Ruth Bourquin and Massachusetts Law Reform Institute for coordinating the videotaping. Please share this link with your legislators and others who are concerned about what is happening to children and families experiencing homelessness!

October 26, 2012: What an amazing turnout at yesterday's State House hearing on the new EA restrictions! Gardner Auditorium was packed with families, advocates, legal services staff, medical professionals, faith community members, and other concerned citizens, with the vast majority of those testifying asking DHCD to restore access to the safety net of shelter while increasing access to prevention and housing resources. Thank you for coming out and spreading the word. Here is the sign-on letter the Coalition presented to DHCD, from 69 organizations from across the Commonwealth. In addition, here is the sign-on letter to DHCD from Senator Ken Donnelly and 24 of his legislative colleagues.

October 23, 2012: Thank you to all of the families and advocates who turned out in force today for DHCD's hearing in Springfield on the new family shelter restrictions. Your presence and testimony were so powerful! If you missed today's hearing, please join us at the State House this Thursday starting at 10 a.m. for the second hearing. Follow these links to see photos and videos from the hearing, courtesy of the talented Joe Oliverio. 

October 18, 2012: Room Change: The Western Massachusetts hearing scheduled for next Monday, October 22nd at 10 a.m. in Springfield at State Office Building, 436 Dwight Street, now will be in Room B4 to accommodate more participants. The Boston hearing still is scheduled for Thursday, October 25th at 10 a.m. in Gardner Auditorium at State House. Here are updated flyers about the public hearings, in both English and Spanish.

October 12, 2012: Here's a flyer about next week's public hearings on the new EA regulations. Please read and share widely! 

October 11, 2012: Please take a few minutes today to call Governor Patrick and your State Legislators to ask them to protect families experiencing homelessness by providing shelter to families who are at imminent risk of having to stay in places not meant for human habitation. The Governor's office can be reached at 617-725-4005 or 1-888-870-7770; State Representatives and Senators can be reached through the State House Switchboard: 617-722-2000. Here's our latest fact sheet, along with Yvonne Abraham's Boston Globe story from Sunday, which will be delivered today to all State Representatives and Senators.

October 7, 2012: The front page of today's Sunday Boston Globe includes a powerful story by Yvonne Abraham on the impact of the EA regulation changes on a mom named Ginna and other families across the Commonwealth.

October 4, 2012: Please take the time to read our latest blog entry, written by a guest contributor. The author is a college student/mother experiencing homelessness with her toddler, sharing her perspective on the EA family shelter regulation changes.

October 2, 2012: Here's DHCD's official announcement about the hearings: http://www.mass.gov/hed/docs/dhcd/legal/public-hearing-notice-for-emergency-assistance-regulations.pdf. Please contact Kelly at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  to let us know if you are interested in testifying as part of a panel at one or both of the hearings. Even if you do not plan to testify orally or submit written testimony, your presence is critical!

September 18, 2012: DHCD has posted the next round of documents related to new regulations for the Emergency Assistance program. Those documents can be found here: http://www.mass.gov/hed/economic/eohed/dhcd/dhcd-housing-and-homelessness-reform.html The latest version of the regulations include important expansions/clarifications, notably as related to survivors of domestic violence and families living in unstable double-up situations. We will continue to advocate for key changes, most importantly, to allow families at imminent risk of having to stay in places not meant for human habitation to access shelter.

September 17, 2012: DHCD has announced the dates and locations for the two public hearings. The Western Massachusetts hearing will be held on Monday, October 22nd at 10 a.m. in Springfield at State Office Building, 436 Dwight Street, Room 305. The Boston hearing has been moved to Thursday, October 25th at 10 a.m. in Gardner Auditorium at State House. We hope you can join us for one (or both!) of the hearings, or submit written testimony to be considered. Contact Kelly at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information or to share a copy of your testimony. Here's the flyer from DHCD on the hearing details.

September 5, 2012: DHCD is looking for a new, larger venue for the public hearing in Boston, and plans to organize an additional hearing in Western Massachusetts. We will keep you updated as more information becomes available, but hope you can join us!

August 29, 2012: DHCD has confirmed that the public hearing on the new EA restrictions will be held on Monday, October 22nd at 10 a.m. (9/17: Please note that this has since been changed to October 25th.) Stay tuned for additional details.

August 20, 2012: Here is our latest action alert about the implementation of the first round of EA regulation changes and this year's start of the RAFT program.

August 10, 2012: Here is a link to DHCD's new page on the Emergency Assistance health and safety changes and FY'13 changes/initiatives. The page includes a newer version of the regulations, as filed with the Secretary of State's office.

August 9, 2012: Here are the revised documents from DHCD regarding the stricter eligibility criteria related to families in need of shelter due to health and safety concerns. As noted below, the new standards were put into effect on Monday.

8-3-12 Filing Highlighted

DCF DHCD HS Admin Plan (7-31-12)

Guidance on Use of Terms Regarding Health and Safety (7-31-12)

FY'13 Health and Safety Assessment Form

HSH Visit Referral Form (7-31-12)

August 6, 2012 Update: Today, Judge Janet Sanders from the Suffolk Superior Court issued her written decision in the case Arise for Social Justice, et al. vs. Department of Housing and Community Development, denying our group's motion for a preliminary injunction to stop DHCD from implementing the stricter health and safety standards without giving the Legislature 60 days advanced notice. Unfortunately, this means that the new standards were put into effect today. We will continue to work with various stakeholders on these issues and to ensure that the next round of eligibility changes that are set to take effect in September protect families as much as possible.

August 2, 2012: Today, lawyers from Massachusetts Law Reform Institute (MLRI) will go into court to seek a temporary restraining order to stop the first round of EA eligibility restrictions (related to heightened standards for establishing health and safety concerns) from going into effect. MLRI is representing the Coalition, Arise for Social Justice, the Coalition for Social Justice, and Neighbor to Neighbor-Massachusetts in the case against DHCD. Click here to see MLRI's press release: http://www.masslegalservices.org/system/files/MLRI-EA-Litigation-Press-Release-7.31.12_0.pdf

July 26, 2012: Here is our updated fact sheet for legislatorsJuly 26th advocacy alert, and original July 18th advocacy alert, "Your Action Needed to Halt DHCD's Proposed Eligibility for Emergency Assistance Shelter!"  We have been working with key legislators to try to convince DHCD and the Administration to amend the proposed regulations. Based on our recent meeting with the Administration, legislators, and legal service advocates, here is a summary of key issues that remain to be addressed. Thank you to everyone who has made calls to the Governor and members of the Legislature. Please keep up the advocacy! We are making an impact, but time is short!

Please take action and stay tuned for additional advocacy alerts. To get some more inspiration, check out this video and these photos by Joe Oliverio of the rally organized by our amazing colleagues from Arise for Social Justice, Neighbor to Neighbor, and Springfield No One Leaves, in front of the Governor's office in Springfield on July 26th.

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July 17, 2012: Below are links to various documents issued by DHCD related to the proposed regulation changes and eligibility restrictions.

EA Updates 60-Day Review Cover Letter

106 CMR 309 Proposed Amendments (07-13-12)

DHS Notice 2012-0X, Guidance on Meaning of Fault in Fires, Floods, Natural Disasters, and "No Fault" Evictions

DHS Notice on Basic Verifications (MEM 07-11-12)

DHS Notice Verification of Domestic Violence (MEM 07-11-12)

DHS Notice 2012-0X Guidance on Direct Threat (MEM 07-11-12)

DHS Notice EA Open Applications and Re-Application (MEM 07-11-12)

DHS Notice on Low Income Housing Tax Credit Units (MEM 07-11-12)


In addition, on July 17, 2012, DHCD also submitted to the Legislature proposed regulation changes related to the determination of health and safety risks. Without intervention, DHCD intends to implement these regulations after 15 days.

Health & Safety Regs & Guidance 15-day Cover Letter

106 CMR 309 Proposed Amendments Health and Safety Only (07-13-12)

HSH Visit Referral Form (MEM 07-13-12)

DCF DHCD Health and Safety Admin Plan (MEM 07-13-12)

FY'13 Health and Safety Assessment Form (MEM 07-13-12)
 

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