….Budget season is here and this is only the beginning!
The Patrick Administration released its FY2015 budget proposal on (a snowy and cold) Wednesday of this week. This is the first step of many in the state’s budget process. The House of Representatives will release their proposal in April; the Senate in May; and a final budget for July 1st, which will mark the beginning of FY2015. This is the final proposal of the Patrick Administration before the end of his second term. Included in his proposal package are increased tax revenue through a proposed Candy and Soda tax and significant increases to education, transportation and elder services. Most of the housing and homelessness items were level funded, including MRVP. And while the proposed increase in funding for EA appears significantly striking, it simply provides upfront funding for family shelter that has recently been funded through multiple, supplemental budgets throughout the year. We will share our formalized response to Governor Patrick’s proposal, but we would like to get the facts out objectively and hear from you…what do you think? What would this plan, if adopted for the legislature mean for solving homelessness?
Here is what the Governor is proposing:
[Click to Enlarge]
Emergency Shelter (7004-0101)/Hotel Motels (7004-0103):
The House 2 budget retains the distinct line items for shelter and motel funding. The combined budget proposal is $179.64 ($167M and 12M respectively). While this appears to be a significant increase, based on prior year’s budget proposals, it is reflective of the projected demand and the total anticipated spending for FY14, post supplemental budgets.
The language proposed by the Patrick Administration for the FY15 budget is largely consistent with the current language and is in line with previous proposals made in their tenure in the executive office.
Omissions/Changes Proposed in the House 2 Budget
- Elimination of the 30 day presumptive eligibility clause which provides families who are seemingly, or otherwise eligible, an opportunity to gather all of the verifications required by the eligibility process
- Elimination of advance notice language to the Legislature, which bars the administration from implementing restrictions or reductions to the benefit without 60 day notice to the Legislature
- Elimination of data reporting language, which required the Administration to produce monthly and quarterly reports to the Legislature
- Inserted language allowing transferrability of funds between the shelter and motel line items
The omission of this language and insertion of transferability was proposed for FY14, but was rejected by the Legislature.
Items Maintained in the House 2 Budget
- Categorical eligibility, or restricted shelter access
- Health and safety assessments by the Department of Children and Families
- Mandated housing search services for families in motels
- Mandated connections to services for families who receive EA due to domestic abuse
- Housing plan mandates- accepting offers of affordable housing, savings, executable shelter exit plan after 32 weeks
- Massachusetts residency requirement
- 20 mile rule and local placement guidance
- Notice to school departments
- Motel safety guidelines (refrigeration, cooking and cribs)
- No unreasonable verification
- Encouraging conversions of scattered sites to congregates
Funding was reduced by more than $36M, reflecting the ending of Rental Assistance, and the continuation of Household Assistance, which includes flexible cash assistance up to $4,000 and stabilization services, to EA families- as a diversion or exit resource. Housing search for motel families is also funded through this line item. Additional changes were made regarding Household Assistance:
- Families transitioning off of Rental Assistance will no longer be eligible, impacting families transitioning the program at the end of FY14
- Eliminates advance notice language
Besides the elimination of the temporary 7 day shelter through RAFT, no language changes were made in this line item, or in the other housing and homelessness line items.
For more information, please check out the interactive tools by MassBudget and Policy Center and stay tuned for more from us!