No….we are not talking about the holiday season….although we do wish you a happy one…we are referring to the FY2014 Budget Making Season. The Governor will be releasing his budget on January 23rd…so each of the executive offices and departments have been given their numbers and charged with outlining their budget plans. Last week, the executive offices hosted hearings in which the general public (ie mostly the advocacy groups) give input.
Homes for Families attended the hearing with the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development. EOHED shared a brief slide show explaining the grim picture of the 2014 budget (click here for a copy of the slides), then opened up the floor for testimony.
Here is a copy of the HFF submission. Our testimony was in three parts: Emergency Assistance; Prevention and Housing; and HomeBASE Rental Assistance, and was presented by executive director Libby Hayes; policy director Diane Sullivan; and Consumer Advocacy Team member, Altia Taylor.
Basically, we are following the mantra, “Go Big or Go Home”, but with a twist….we are going big with our asks, because we want the children in motels, shelters and on the streets, and other precarious situations to have a home. We have had enough of this crisis; especially when we know the solutions- first- housing and prevention, then- we get to work on education, jobs and asset development. We are on track to spend $52 MILLION on motels this year. That is gross; we continue to spend more on motels than MRVP’s; services are insufficient and inconsistent; and families and children are suffering- both in the system…and those that can no longer access it. If the Commonwealth is serious about ending homelessness, and we believe they are, then it is time invest in solutions. No nickle and diming housing and housing development. No more bankrolling motels. No more short changing families.
We propose taking one half of the amount of money spent on motels and invest in housing and prevention ($5M on community based prevention, $3M to expand RAFT and TPP and $18M in MRVP). We also urge that HomeBASE rental assistance be extended for another year for those that need it and that DHCD be required to develop a plan to transition families off of HomeBASE and out of homelessness.
Please contact us or leave comments with your reactions and any questions. Our asks were developed by listening to you, families experiencing homelessness…and you shelter providers, about what is needed to end homelessness. Now, please join us in our advocacy efforts to achieve our collective vision.