As you know, Massachusetts is facing the biggest family homelessness crisis in the history of the Commonwealth. The motel census reached a high in December of 2013 with over 2,240 families. Today, that number is 1,873. The reduction of families in motels can be attributed to three primary factors: the issuance of MRVP housing vouchers, the expansion of contracted shelter units, and use flexible use of the HomeBASE resource- including the increase in the per family spending cap.
We want to continue to reduce the reliance on motels and provide a better foundation for children in extremely low income households. Certain amendments will be especially important to build on the momentum in reducing the reliance on motels, and to strengthen the safety net and family homelessness and housing systems:
Emergency Shelter (7004-0101)
- Senator Donnelly’s amendments to correct shelter eligibility, so that families do not have to sleep in places not meant for human habitation and maintain other protections in the line item for families placed presumptively
- Senator Lovely’s amendment to increase funding to the Emergency Assistance program by $20M. This will allow for the expansion of contracted shelter units and reduce the need for supplemental budgets in FY15 to cover motel costs.
- Senator Petruccelli’s amendment to provide 12 month contracts to family shelter providers
- Senator O’Connor Ives’ amendment to the HomeBASE Line Item (7004-0108) to increase funding by $4.8M and technical changes to increase the flexibility in the program.
Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (7004-9024)
- Senator Eldridge’s amendment to ensure that vouchers are distributed fairly and efficiently, provide DHCD with the resources to establish a statewide waiting list for MRVP that can lay the ground work for a wait list for all state programs and ensure that the new wait list is done quickly and that vouchers are on the street as quickly as possible
There are other critical amendments that will help address homelessness and poverty, and strengthen opportunities and assure safety for families in the Commonwealth:
Senator Wolf’s amendment fund the Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC) Grant Payments (DTA 4403-2000) at $289.2 million to allow for a modest TAFDC grant increase and provide a safety net to families who need it most
Senator Donoghue’s amendment to fund the Employment Services Program (DTA 4401-1000) at $9.7 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. This amendment would also level fund all programs currently funded under this line item.
Senator Moore’s amendment or a reserve to the department of early education and care to be distributed to increase reimbursement rates for center-based subsidized early education and care, for salaries, benefits and stipends for professional development of early educators or programmatic quality improvements
Senator Finegold’s amendment to provided necessary funding for the Teen Living Programs
Senator Spilka’s Amendment on the Salary Reserve for Human Service Workers
Senator Donnelly’s Amendment to RAFT to insert language and funding for temporary accommodations
Senator Welch’s Amendment to the TPP program, a valuable prevention tool
Senator Keenan’s amendment to bring DCF line item 4800-1400 to $26.9
- The SWM budget recommends $23,201,437. With the recent implementation of chapter 257 rates for residential services, this funding is essentially level to FY14 in terms of services. An increase is needed to expand shelter room capacity and build community based service capacity.
- This line item funds Domestic Violence emergency shelter, transitional housing and community based services across the Commonwealth.
Senator Eldridge’s amendment to bring DPH 4513-1130 to $7.35 million The amendment will also add language to mirror the current and House budget language and include all programmatic areas.
- The SWM budget recommends $5,752,078, which is essentially level funding to FY14 but still significantly below FY2009 funding (gap of $639,599).
- This line item funds Rape Crisis Centers throughout Massachusetts, batterer intervention programs, services for refugees and immigrant survivors and LGBQT survivors, as well as prevention funding.