Want to be involved in the policy making process AND help end homelessness? CALLS NEEDED NOW! #mapoli

Homes for Families

Action Alert

As you know, the House Ways and Means Committee released their budget proposal on Wednesday. Important amendments are needed to address the family homelessness crisis in Massachusetts. Please contact your Representative and ask that they co-sponsor and support the following amendments:

Please make your calls RIGHT NOW! The deadline to file and co-sponsor is today!

Click here to look up your Representative

Housing Solutions

Please support an increase to the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (line item 7004-9024) to address the shortage of affordable housing in Massachusetts

Sign on to:

Representative Fox’s amendment to restore funding to $87.5 M. Contact Mary Tuitt atmary.tuitt@mahouse.gov, 617-722-2810

Representative Garballey’s amendment to restore funding to $75.5 M. Contact Max Chalkins at maxwell.chalkins@mahouse.govor 617-722-2090

Access to the Safety Net

Please assure the safety of children and parents to prevent homeless children from sleeping in places not meant for human habitation

Sign on to:

Representative Decker’s amendment to line item 7004-0101 to prevent homeless children from sleeping in places not meant for human habitation. Contact David Wittenberg  at david.wittenberg@mahouse.gov or 617-722-2430.

(Watch this video for more information about why this amendment is so important)

 

Other key amendments, please review and encourage support on the items you feel are most important:

Rehousing Resources

Rep. DiZoglio’s amendment to increase flexible assistance, through the HomeBASE Program (7004-0108) to support families to move out of shelter from $6,000 to $8,000. To co-sponsor, call 617-722-2060

 Rep. Honan’s amendment to allow increases to $8,000 in certain circumstances and other technical changes. Please contact 617-722-2470

Financial Support for Low Income Families

Representative Decker’s amendment to level fund the Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children grant payments (DTA 4403-2000) to allow for a modest TAFDC grant increase, restore the rent allowance for those paying private, unsubsidized rent, and provide a safety net to families who need it most. Contact David Wittenberg  at david.wittenberg@mahouse.gov or 617-722-2430 to coponsor.

 Prevention


Rep. Honan’s amendment regarding the RAFT (7004-9316) program which provides prevention assistance to keep people housed; contact 617-254-6457

Shelter Contracts

Representative Swan’s amendment to insert language in the Emergency Assistance Line Item (7004-0101) to assure 12 month contracts for shelter providers. To co-sponsor, call 617-722-2680

Education and Childcare

Chairwoman Khan’s amendment to fund the Employment Services Program (DTA 4401-1000) at $10.2 million with $2 million to establish pilot pathways programs that would assist low-income families in accessing post-secondary education and training leading to jobs that pay family-sustaining wages and $1 million for transportation assistance for families participating in education and work. Contact Elizabeth Driscoll in Khan’s office at Elizabeth.Driscoll@mahouse.gov or 617-722-2011 to cosponsor this amendment

Domestic Violence

 Representative Stanley’s amendment to bring DCF line item 4800-1400 to $26,900,000. To co-sponsor this amendment, please contact Mark Phillips at mark.phillips@mahouse.gov or 617-722-2230 by Friday at noon.

 

 Representative Malia’s amendment to bring DPH line item 4513-1130 to $7,350,000 . To co-sponsor this amendment, please contact Liana Poston at liana.poston@mahouse.gov or 617-722-2060 by Friday at noon.

 

Teen Living Programs

Representative Provost’s amendment to fund Teen Parent Shelter (4403-2119) at $10.6 million. Contact Pooja at Pooja.Phaltankar@mahouse.gov or 617-722-2263 to cosponsor

Thanks for ALL you do, let’s make sure it gets heard! 30 minute countdown…and go!

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From Representative to Senator: Meeting with Senator Jason Lewis

The progressive State Representative Jason Lewis just recently won the special election for Katherine Clark’s state senate seat. Homes for Families staff, Jamie Minton, and intern, Becca Gilbert, were fortunate to meet with Senator Lewis to discuss a wide range of topics from his needs as a new senator, his thoughts and vision regarding family homelessness, and his personal experience throughout his journey from the private sector to the public sector.  His senate district will include Malden, Melrose, Reading, Stoneham, Wakefield and parts of Winchester. Now, representing more constituents and districts, it is vital for all of us to reach out to Senator Lewis to educate him on the homelessness crisis impacting the communities he represents. Senator Lewis voiced his interest and commitment to learning how to address these new challenges in his new role.

Senator Lewis made an important comment during our conversation saying that “people should consider housing as a fundamental human right, along with education, food and health care.” The country has accepted education for our children and food as fundamental rights, however there is still a way to go before our state accepts housing and health care as equally essential. Senator Lewis also emphasized the importance of the minimum wage: “Many people who find themselves homeless are employed, productive citizens who are contributing to our society and just because they don’t get paid a living wage, cannot afford housing. He proposed solutions to this issue including providing more affordable housing or raising the minimum wage. With a minimum wage bill currently in debate, Becca asked the Senator what we should expect the outcome to be. He was very optimistic, reporting that he expects the house and the senate to reach a compromise.

Our last question was what he suggests constituents and advocates can do to ensure a better relationship with the legislature. The Senator referenced the success of Raise Up, the organization that fought and succeeded on getting the minimum wage on the ballot in 2014. He said “the key thing is that most legislators don’t assume they’re experts on everything”, so providing information to them in your area of expertise is helpful and necessary. Advocates and the greater community are the ones who can provide the basic information, what it is important and what the legislators can and need to do about it. Senator Lewis said that by regularly interacting with the legislature and continuing to reach out will ensure that legislators will listen and take action. It was nice to hear that Senator Lewis relies on his constituents and advocacy groups a great deal to inform and educate him on pressing issues.

We were very lucky to meet with Jason Lewis as he transitions from representative to senator and look forward to his actions on family homelessness and its surrounding issues. We encourage you to connect with your own representative and/or senator and have the same conversation- how they got to the state house, why they continue to do the work that they do, and how we as a community can help to make it stronger.
-Becca Gilbert

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HWM Budget Analysis relative to Family Homelessness

House Ways and Means Budget Released!

Good afternoon-

Earlier today, the House Ways and Means Commitee released their version of the FY2015 state budget. Please click here to review the initial analysis of funding levels, compared to the Governor’s proposal and current funding.  

We are in the process of analyzing the language of each line item and reviewing the Outside Section of the budget to determine if any of our priorities are impacted there. 

A couple of highlights:

-HWM funded EA (family shelter) $47 million less than the Governor, but $2.7 million more to the hotel/motel line item than the Governor. 

-HWM funded the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program at $3 million more than current funding- 10% of our ask.

Clearly, we have our work cut out for us over the next couple of days.  Amendments will be due to the clerks office by 5:00 pm on Friday.  We will be in touch to let you know which amendments we will need your support on- we will need you to contact your state representative to ask that they co-sponsor these amendments.

More information to follow.  

Please share your initial reactions, questions and concerns with us on Facebook, or Twitter!

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A State Senator Walks into a Family Homeless Shelter…and what happens next is no joke.

Senator Gale Candaras visited family shelter Prospect House and we can think of no better way to explain what happened during that visit than through a family who currently lives in that shelter….Read below for more!


 

On March 25th, 2014 Senator Candaras visited Prospect House shelter for families. Upon arrival we gave her a tour of the house and sat down at our dining room table. We prepared a lunch for her so that when we met her we could meet as a family. And that is what she became to all of us.

When she first walked in shImagee was so delightful and aware of how everybody looked, and just seeing her and shaking her hand when she first walked in gave me HOPE. Not only did she share her story but she told us her struggles and hurdles that she has had to go through before she became a Senator.

She also played with each and every child and made an impact on all of us.  She made us all laugh with her humorous jokes. I really enjoyed her so much that I didn’t want her to leave, but then I thought to myself she has to go to make an impact on others lives and make a hand print in people’s hearts to make them realize they are not the only ones and that they are not alone.

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Senator Candaras came that day to make an impact on our lives and she did… and I am pretty sure given our situation we did to her as well!

-Deyanira Gonzalez, Prospect House Resident


 

 

 

The visit was arranged by Homes for Families’ Board Member and Prospect House/HAPHousing Program Specialist Lelaini Paniagua.  We sent along policy information and tips to families about meeting with legislators.  We were excited to hear all about it. And after we heard all about it, we knew you would want to as well.  This experiences highlights the importance of connecting with constituents and the necessity of engaging legislators. And what’s more, this experience reinforces both…because without either, progress is not possible.

We are sharing this story with high hopes:  Hope for this to reach other families who feel left out of the system; hope for this to encourage other legislators to visit (or sleep at!) the shelters in their district; and hope that both families and legislators will share their experiences with HFF…so we can share it with the greater community through our blog, conversations, and actions.

If you are interested in contributing to the HFF blog, let us know in the comments! We want to know your story, your frustrations, your solutions, and your vision for a better Massachusetts!

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ICYMI: The Boston Legislative Breakfast

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On March 28, 2014, families, providers, legislators, and the greater community convened at Project Hope for the annual Boston Legislative Breakfast.  We heard from a family in shelter, a Boston Public School teacher, US Congressman Mike Capuano, Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz, and Mary Tuitt of Representative Gloria Fox’s office.

We see the Boston Legislative Breakfast as an opportunity.  An opportunity for families to share their voice with their legislators; an opportunity for those legislators to hear from a traditionally marginalized group of people; and an opportunity to communicate, compromise and continue the conversation on how to end family homelessness in Massachusetts.

The Boston Legislative Breakfast is an opportunity to see the issues that impact families through many lenses, and through many perspectives…and in sharing the event we want to accomplish the same.  Below are the HFF Intern Reactions to the Boston Legislative Breakfast…and please feel free to share yours!

Last Friday March 28 Homes for Families hosted a legislative breakfast for the community at Project Hope.

The first half of the morning was breakfast and welcoming people. Everyone from Homes for Families introduced themselves and their positions.  Families that were homeless are now volunteer family advocates. Teachers, Senators, Representatives and a family spoke on seeking different solutions on how to make a change. Senators, Teachers, Representatives, Congressman were there helping advocate for the families.

Everybody needs to start self advocating and speaking up, it’s very important. After the panel, people were asked to share their reactions. One specific story touched me:

A woman talked about how her son has no father; no family besides her. If something ever happened to her, he has nobody to turn to. And when she’s down, she has no support system but her son. She’s in shelter just like a lot of other families.

I think it was a good thing for Homes for Families to have the legislative breakfast because they help advocate for the state and they’re also helping families advocate way more for themselves. We need everybody to vote.

-Ciara, Consumer Intern

 

Last Friday, the lobby of Project Hope quickly filled up with people, including families, legislators and shelter providers. It was an exciting morning and everyone was there because they shared a common interest: ending family homelessness.  Some of the attendees included Congressman Capuano, Senator Chang Diaz and Representative Fox’s aid.   Several different perspectives were present at the breakfast.  Congressman Capuano shared his thoughts on the happenings in Washington.  Congressman Capuano took the time to express the importance of voting.  His honesty was both refreshing and difficult to hear, as he admitted how the attitude in Washington hasn’t changed. However, Congressman Capuano set a hopeful and strong tone for the breakfast. As he ended his remarks, the Congressman insisted that people need to continue to advocate for the issues they think need to be prioritized, or else they will be forgotten. It was powerful to hear that Congressman Capuano, Senator Chang-Diaz and Representative Fox’s aid, Mary Tuitt, are all dedicated to ending family homelessness.

Hearing from the legislators was exciting and inspiring, however, listening to the two speakers on the panel share their experiences with homelessness was touching on a new level.  One of the speakers was a Boston Public School teacher who shared a story about the effects that homelessness has on our kids.  She mentioned two of her students that seriously suffered as a result of homelessness.  The other speaker spoke about her own family’s experience becoming homeless.  After one setback, she could no longer afford her apartment forcing her family to split up in order for her and her child to find shelter.   It was heartbreaking to hear her share something so personal.   I was moved by how brave she was to stand in front of a room full of strangers and spill all of the hardships her family has faced on to the table. Moreover, listening to the panelists and hearing from those in the crowd who are working to end family homelessness and have experienced homelessness themselves, exposed how flawed the system is and how we have to keep fighting to improve it.  After speaking with some of the attendees and playing with their adorable children, I left feeling quite inspired that the work of Homes for Families and countless other organizations, is making a difference and it’s essential that we don’t give up on this cause.

-Becca Gilbert

Today I was able to attend the Boston Legislative Breakfast with Homes for Families. There was an array of people there with all different stories on why they are advocates for homelessness prevention. Along with that, State Representative Sonia Chang-Diaz and US Congressman Mike Cupuano. For me, the most powerful segment of this program, was not a specific part of it the agenda. It was the atmosphere; it was the engagement of the attendees. Many times the officials or the panelists would make a point that every single person in the crowd was shaking their head to, or even yelling out, “yes.” It was amazing to see all the people who have been impacted by homelessness, but are ready to make a change. Diane Sullivan said that “homeless, the ‘poor’ people, are the most resilient.” I thought that was great. The attendees and panelists were turning tragedy into triumph and using their stories to empower people and make changes. This is not something you see often, I am so happy I was able to attend the breakfast.

-Flannagh Fitzsimmons, Lasell College Intern 

For more pictures, be sure to check out our Facebook, a great place to post your own reactions!

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HFF FY15 Priorities

Thank you to everyone who came out to the Boston Legislative Breakfast this morning at Project Hope! We left feeling inspired, motivated and HEARD! 

More on the Boston Legislative Breakfast to come, but we couldn’t wait any longer to get our FY15 priorities out to the community! Please click below for details:

Primary Priorities

Secondary Priorities

MRVP Fact Sheet

EA Fact Sheet 

Please let us know if you have any questions, concerns, comments or insights to share! Check back soon for the Boston Legislative Breakfast update…and HAPPY FRIDAY! 

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This event helps to end homelessness. Are you coming?

 

Boston Legislative Breakfast 2014

Register Here!

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March 24, 2014 · 6:52 pm