Boldly Moving Massachusetts Forward is the theme of the Senate Ways and Means (SWM) budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year. The proposal was released on Tuesday afternoon and amendments were due Friday by mid day. The Chairman’s letter, a summary, list of committee members and the budget proposal can be found here.
Unlike the House, where amendments are listed in the order in which they are filed, the Senate Amendments are listed by category and color coded. Amendments on shelter and housing issues are listed under the Housing and Economic Development Category, ECO for short, and flagged with the color blue. The full list of Amendments can be found here. And just click on the ECO, or other categories of interest.
Below is a quick summary of the proposal and the primary amendments that we are advocating for building up to the debates, which are scheduled to begin the week of May 20th.
Emergency Assistance Family Shelter:
The family shelter system was funded at $178M, which should be sufficient to cover the cost of 12 month shelter contracts based on the current caseload. As with previous Senate Ways and Means proposals, the language to allow eligibility for families at imminent risk of homelessness was included.
provided further, that temporary emergency assistance shall be provided to families who, on the date of application for emergency assistance, have no other feasible alternative housing as defined under 760 CMR 67.06(1)(b) and who, but for not having spent 1 night in a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings including, but not limited to, a car, park, abandoned building, medical facility, bus or train station, airport or campground, would be eligible for emergency assistance under clauses (i) to (iv), inclusive; provided further, that not later than March 2, 2020, the department shall submit a report to the house and senate committees on ways and means detailing expenditures under the previous proviso including the number of families who received emergency assistance;
In addition, the SWM proposal includes additional data and reporting requirements and has some other variations from the House proposal and current budget language.
Homes for Families is advocating for two amendments to the EA Proposal:
Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program:
The SWM committee proposes $110M for MRVP, a $10M increase to the program, and increases the Fair Market Rent cap from 2005 to current levels.
Homes for Families is advocating for an amendment to the MRVP Proposal:
The SWM proposal made recommended changes to the program relative to the access for households in domestic violence shelters, sober living programs, and substance abuse treatment programs; no additional changes were made and the proposed funding level matches the Governor and House proposals.
Homes for Families is advocating for an amendment to the HomeBASE Proposal:
We will be reviewing the full docket of amendments and compiling a list of items we support, oppose, and/or want folks to be aware of and sending out more information. Please let your Senators know what amendments are important to you!