Following the Amendments on malegislature.gov

The House Committee on Ways and Means released their budget proposal on Monday, April 10th, a change from the typical Wednesday release to accommodate for Good Friday. Representatives had until 5pm on Thursday to add amendments to the $40.3Billion spending proposal.  Amendments can add additional funding and change line item language. Amendments must be filed by at least one representative, and others can add their name as co-sponsors after the amendment has been filed.  Historically, representatives co-sponsored an amendment by signing their names next to the corresponding number in a book in the clerk’s office with a quill pen.

Advocates and others would have to go to the clerk’s office at the State House and ask to see “the book” to see who had signed on. Now, legislators can use the “quill” feature on an online system that we can all track. Technology makes the process much more transparent.

The Massachusetts Legislature’s website had a bit of a face lift since last budget season. This blog post gives an overview of how to navigate the website so that you can read the various amendments, see what amendments your representative filed, and check to see if your State Representative is supporting the Budget Amendments that are important to you.

Step 1. Go to https://malegislature.gov/

Step 2. Go to the House Debate Page

Step 3. Use the Filter

When you enter your search terms, don’t forget to click the “filter” icon; use the “clear filter” feature to start a new search.  

Search Tips

  • If you don’t know who your State Representative is, click here
  • Housing programs all are listed with line item number 7004-
  • Line items we follow are: MRVP (7004-9024); Emergency Shelter (7004-0101); and HomeBASE (7004-0108)
  • Key words include: homeless, housing, voucher…

Step 4: Find your Amendment(s)

Step 5: Review the Amendment

Amendment #780 is an example of a funding amendment; striking the budget amount of $100M for MRVP and inserting $120M.

Click here to read the “technical amendment” #382 that was filed on MRVP 

Step 6: Take Action

If your Representative is signed on: say thank you!

If your Representative is not signed on: ask him/her to consider co-sponsoring.

You can call, email, use social media, visit the State House, attend an event.

Feel free to contact us with any questions or for more information.  For a sample script and a list of the amendments we are watching, click here

Stay tuned for more information; we will do our best to keep the blog updated as the budget process continues.  Representatives have up until the debates begin to co-sponsor and get educated about the amendments.

The debates begin on Monday, April 24th!

Housing Choice Vouchers data says:

 

 

 

 

Choose Housing!

If you know Homes for Families at all, you know that we advocate for improved policies using the voice of current and former homeless families.  

You know that a very big part of our job is to listen to the experiences, insight and concerns of these families, and those who work closest to them, in order to advocate for what will best support families, providers, and the community. 

And you know that again and again- we advocate for an increase to the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program.  

It is what low-income families need to have access to affordable housing, it is what providers need to assist families in overcoming homelessness and it is what the community needs to support happy, full-bellied, warm, educated, stable children.  

As Alison Bromley of FamilyAid Boston so awesomely states, “MRVP allows children of today a chance to become productive members of society. Don’t we want that?”

Well, don’t we?

MRVP is one way Massachusetts ensures access to permanent housing– and therefore stability, security and increased likelihood of success.  

But the burden of America’s wage, employment and housing cost issues should not (and do not) fall solely on Massachusetts.  The federal government has a program called “Housing Choice Vouchers”, commonly known as Section 8, which is similar to MRVP in that it subsidizes housing costs for those who can not pay them on their own.  The difference lies in who is doing the subsidizing.  For MRVP it is the state government.  For HCV, it is the federal government. In both, local agencies are charged with administering them. 

So what happens when HVC’s are administered? The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities created this super clear infographic.

See for yourself:

ImageImage#mindblown 

and because we love hashtags- #ChooseHousing