The Department of Housing and Community Development is seeking input on upcoming changes regarding the number of rule violations that lead to a termination of benefits.

As you know, DHCD has had to rely on motels to meet their moral and legal obligation to place all families who are eligible for Emergency Assistance (EA).

DHCD has had different rules, rule enforcement and levels of services for families in motels compared to families in shelters. Families may be terminated from the EA benefit, or shelter system, for a variety of reasons, including: criminal activity; refusing an opportunity for safe permanent housing, or feasible alternative housing, without good cause; refusing or abandoning their shelter/motel placement; no longer meeting the eligibility requirements; or if a family is found “noncompliant” with the with the rules of the Emergency Assistance program- which is the focus of the proposed change.

Historically, a family would be terminated from the program if they were found to be “noncompliant” 2 times. Families in shelter were granted 3 rule violations before being issued a noncompliance notice, compared to families in motels who were determined noncompliant after 1 rule violation.

In other words, a family could be terminated from shelter after breaking 6 rules, while a family in a motel could lose their benefit after being cited for 2 rule violations.

In January of 2013, DHCD was sued by the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute (MLRI), on the base that treating families differently in shelter and hotels was not “fair, just and equitable.”  After a court ruling, DHCD applied a 3 rule violation per noncompliance for families both in shelters and motels, but after feeling that this could lead to safety issues, DHCD has proposed regulation changes about the enforcement of rules.

The proposed regulations state that families in shelters and motels can be determined noncompliant if they are cited for 1 violation of “reasonable rules”, and that a family can be terminated from the EA benefit if they are determined “noncompliant” 3 times. In other words, if the changes are adopted, a family could be terminated from the Emergency Assistance program (shelter or motel) if they are cited for breaking 3 rules. Families have a right to appeal the issuance of each noncompliance with DHCD.

The comment period on this updated regulation ends December 12, 2014, and the revised rules, or a modified version thereof, will be implemented on January 5, 2015.

For more details through the official fact sheet sent by DHCD, please click here. 

As a network of families and providers, it is important that we weigh in on this issue. Families terminated from the EA program are not eligible to re-enter shelter for 1 year; and families and providers share a responsibility to ensure safety within programs for all people and children. We ask that you share your comments and ideas by December 10, so that we can analyze the answers as we finalize our input to DHCD.

(Note: comments can be made anonymously or with a selected name; and all comments require administrative approval from HFF before the appear in the comment section)


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