On January 23, 2014 Governor Patrick was on Boston Public Radio answering questions from his constituents. Guess who got to ask a question? Our very own Public Policy Director, Diane Sullivan! Below is their conversation:
Diane Sullivan: Thanks for taking my call. I was curious about the funding for Emergency Assistance– the family shelter account. It appears that you’ve done a great thing by upfront funding as opposed to having to go for a supplemental budget for next year, but I was curious about the level funding for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program. In order to move families out of shelter we’ve got to invest in affordable housing, so I’m wondering what your take was on that…appearing to increase the funding for family shelter, while level funding the housing program that works to move these families out of it.
Governor Patrick: That’s a great, great question and let me just say that the homelessness issue, which as you will know, Diane, goes quite a bit farther than the budget question; it’s been a real conundrum, I think, for us. We have been working toward a Housing First strategy, which was about moving people into permanent housing, which has been very, very hard to keep up with frankly, given what the Recession has done to clobber so many people. I think we hit a record number of people in motels and hotels last November or December and as big as increase as the shelter line item has been over the last couple of budgets, we still are finding ourselves needing to go back to the legislature in between budgets for supplemental funding. We had a great program that expired under terms that the legislature imposed, I think at the end of last year, where we saw something like fewer than 10%- if you will- failure rate of people who have been placed in housing having to come back later on for shelter. In other words, they were able to get up on their feet and stay on their feet. That’s a program, I think, that is a winner, but it required a lot more flexibility in the use of these funds in between the line items than these line items do. So I would say that what you see in the budget is a marker for conversation with legislative leadership and with advocates and experts and I hope, it sounds like you’re pretty well versed in these issues- that you’ll engage as well because I think there’s probably a better way forward.
We know Governor Patrick’s thoughts on increased funding for EA and level funding for MRVP and we want to hear yours!
Not satisfied? Join us at our annual Cookie Day– held February 24 at 10:30 at the Grand Staircase to advocate for increased MRVP and to learn more about Homes for Families