The Senate Ways and Means Committee released its FY15 budget on Wednesday. Budget amendments must be filed by 3:00 pm today and requests to co-sponsor should be communicated by NOON TODAY (but still try if it’s after noon – late add-ons are also possible!).
The advocacy below is consistent with our Network’s legislative priorities as established by the Network Leadership Council. If you personally or organizationally support some but not all of the amendments below, advocate for what you can. Every voice counts!
Please call/email your senator on the following items ASAP, asking them to:
1. Co-sponsor Senator Michael Barrett’s amendment to add the Secure Jobs line-item (7004-9322) to the budget, a vital and proven jobs program for homeless families. The program language is the same as that adopted by the House, with the difference being the House amendment passed at $500,000 and the Senate proposal is for $2 million. We already know this initiative works; we need state support to make it work for more families.
2. Co-sponsor Senator Dan Wolf’s amendment to level-fund Housing Consumer Education Centers (HCEC) in this year’s budget. The Senate Ways and Means budget cut funding by $250,000; the House budget cut it by $900,000. Level funding is critical for maintaining housing counseling and education and to continue the RAFT program since funds to administer RAFT are not available from any other source.
3. Co-sponsor Senator John Keenan’s amendment to restore funding to the supportive housing pilot for LGBTQ unaccompanied homeless youth. This pilot program was entirely defunded in the Senate budget (but funded in the House budget). The program, which includes funding for Western Massachusetts, is vital to meet the needs of the disproportionate number of LGBTQ youth who are homeless in our region and across the Commonwealth.
4. Co-sponsor Senator Ken Donnelly’s amendment to amend the Emergency Assistance Line-Item (7004-0101) to prevent children from having to sleep in unsafe places. Between July 2013 and March 2014, 467 families with children have slept in unsafe places before they were found eligible for emergency shelter. This amendment would change the EA eligibility restriction (adopted in September, 2012) that has caused these unsafe situations by providing families access to shelter when they are within 24 hours of staying in a place “not meant for human habitation.”
5. Co-sponsor Senator Rosenberg’s amendment to support the Western Massachusetts Network to End Homelessness with a $125,000 budget earmark. This amendment, which passed in the House budget, offers an extraordinary opportunity for the Network to build its analysis and evaluation of best practices and to promote data-driven solutions for preventing and ending homelessness in the region and statewide.
To find your Senator’s contact information, click here.
Please call or email now! Thank you!