State Budget Advocacy Alert



As you probably already know, the Senate and the House have released their budget recommendations for next fiscal year (FY2012). In general, the House did a good job as they had to deal with a projected $1.5 – $2 billion budget shortfall. The Senate built upon the House’s foundation, tweaked specific line items, and increased funding for some programs based on improved revenue projections released after the House’s budget. Currently, a small group of members from the House and the Senate – called the Conference Committee – are meeting to iron out any differences between their budgets, and we want to make sure the final budget includes features of the House and Senate versions that will best serve low-income and homeless families. So, we need you to call both your Representative and your Senator and ask them to contact Conference Committee members about the following programs. To find your legislators click here.

The Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (7004-9024): Ask your legislators to support the Senate version, which funded MRVP at $35.9 million and included an extra $8.4 million from MassHousing for a total of $44.3 million. The House recommended funding MRVP at $36 million.

TAFDC Children’s Clothing Allowance (4403-2000): The Senate budget provides each eligible child in a family receiving TAFDC with $75 for clothing in September 2011. The House included no funding.

Emergency Assistance (7004-0101): Please ask your legislators to support the Senate version which provides more clear protections for families and gives currently eligible households access to EA when they cannot immediately locate housing through HomeBASE.

However, there are 2 aspects of the House budget that should be included in the final EA line item. 1) The House included language requiring DHCD to give the legislature 60 days notice before making any eligibility or benefit changes to EA, giving time for input from the community and the legislature. 2) The House included language that would allow EA funds to be used for prevention efforts if more funds become available. Ask your legislators to include both of these as well.

HomeBASE (7004-0108): The House and the Senate had similar recommendations for HomeBASE, but the Senate made small changes that will have positive impacts. This includes more clarity around eligibility requirements and flexibility in rent levels. It also includes an appeals process for families denied HomeBASE and allows money to be used for temporary accommodations while a family awaits housing placement.

Women, Infants, and Children (WIC): The Senate version level funded WIC at $12.43 million, but the House cut WIC by over $2 million, which would reduce nutritional assistance for many households. Ask your legislators to support the Senate version.

See below for more info: 

Topic Governor’s House Senate
EA: Eligibility “Shall be only”:

1. Risk of DV in current housing

2. Fire/Nat Disaster

3. Under 21

“Shall include

1. Risk of DV in current housing

2. Fire/Nat Disaster

3. Under 21

 

“families may receive temporary assistance from this item to compensate for timing placement issues with item 7004-0108

“Shall include”:

1. Risk of DV in current housing

2. Fire/Nat Disaster

3. Under 21

 

“families…shall receive temporary assistance from this item pending placement in housing under item 7004-0108”

 

 

EA:Young Parent Program Licensing Requirements Programs not subject to licensing requirements per EOHHS No mention Programs not subject to licensing requirements per EOHHS
EA: $3.5 Carve Out to move families from shelters and motels Not included $3.5M shall be expended to directly reduce the usage of shelter and motels by the EA program to transition families to housing. A strategic plan detailing the expenditure of these funds will be due to Administration and Finance and Ways and Means by August 16th Not included
EA: Protections Not included Protections such as 20 mile rule, presumptive eligibility, advanced notice, 6 month over income clock, and reporting are included Protections such as 20 mile rule, presumptive eligibility, advanced notice, 6 month over income clock, and reporting are included
EA: 12 month rule Increased to 24 months Retains 12 months Retains 12 months
EA: Services for families receiving EA due to Domestic Violence Not included Not included a family, who receives emergency housing assistance due to domestic abuse, shall be connected to the appropriate social service agency
Home BASE: Rent Cap $8,000 cap No cap; family pays 35% of income towards rent and utilities.  Rent must be 80% FMR-waiver determined by administrating agencies No cap; family pays 35% of income towards rent and utilities.  Rent must be 80% FMR-waiver determined by DHCD including families who are moving from HPRP/flex funds who would be over 80%. DHCD must give case-by-case authority to administering agencies to go over 80%.
HomeBASE: 24 Month Rule Assistance received under this program shall render a family ineligible for EA or HomeBASE for a period of 24 months from the later of the date upon which the family exits a temporary emergency family shelter or a short-term housing transition payment is made to or on behalf of the family 12 months for 1 time assistance

 

24 months for after the ongoing rental assistance

12 months for limited 1 time assistance

 

24 months for after the ongoing rental assistance and the family was found to have not made a “good faith effort”

HomeBASE: Income Eligibility No protections for families that increase their income Families may remain in the program if they meet the initial 115% FPL eligibility standard as long as their income does not exceed 50% AMI Families may remain in the program if they meet the initial 115% FPL eligibility standard as long as their income does not exceed 50% AMI
HomeBASE: Eligibility Includes families who are “imminently at risk of becoming homeless” Imminent risk not included Includes families who are “imminently at risk of becoming homeless”
HomeBASE: Automatic Rent Deduction Rental assistance is decreased by 5% during the 2nd and 3rd year of the subsidy Rental assistance is decreased by 5% during the 2nd and 3rd year of the subsidy, as long as rent and utilities is not more than 35% of income Rental assistance is decreased by 5% during the 2nd and 3rd year of the subsidy, as long as rent and utilities is not more than 35% of income
HomeBASE: family protection/compliance issues None included Includes protections for families who are disabled or above the age of 60 Includes protections for families who are disabled or above the age of 60.  Added that a family shall not be deemed ineligible [for subsidy renewal] as a result of any single violation of a self-sufficiency plan
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