A Quick Look at Selected Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) Line Items
1. The House Ways and Means budget did not include direct funding under DHCD for housing resources for unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness. We are working with Representative O’Day to file an amendment to call for funding to implement the housing portion of the new unaccompanied youth homelessness law, Chapter 450 of the Acts of 2014.
2. The House Ways and Means budget would fund the Emergency Assistance family shelter and services program (EA, line item 7004-0101) at $154.9 million for FY’16. The HWM budget does not include needed language that would require DHCD to provide shelter to otherwise eligible families who are at imminent risk of staying in places not meant for human habitation. We are working with Representative Decker to file an amendment to serve families at imminent risk. At the same time, HWM would preserve existing access to Emergency Assistance by rejecting the Governor’s proposed elimination of two sub-categories of eligibility that now cover ~33% of families in shelter.
3. The House Ways and Means budget would increase funding for the HomeBASE program (line item 7004-0108) from $29 million in FY’15 (including the mid-year supplemental appropriation) to $31.25 million, to continue to provide shallow rental subsidies, diversion, and moving assistance for certain EA-eligible families. The HWM proposal would allow families to receive up to $8,000 in HomeBASE funds, up from the current limit of $6,000 per household. (During FY’15, some families have been able to receive up to $8,000 total, however, through a combination of $6,000 in HomeBASE funds plus $2,000 from the Housing Preservation and Stabilization Trust Fund.) The language maintains the draconian 24-month bar on families who are terminated from the program from re-accessing HomeBASE and Emergency Assistance.
4. The House Ways and Means budget would increase funding for the line item that provides funding for shelter and services for unaccompanied individuals at-risk and experiencing homelessness (line item 7004-0102) to $43.2 million.
5. The House Ways and Means budget would fund the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP, line item 7004-9024) at $90.9 million, an incredible $25.9 million increase from the FY’15 direct allocation. This amount includes up to $8 million in unspent FY’15 funds that could be carried over into FY’16. HWM noted that they anticipate 737 new mobile vouchers could be offered in FY’16. HWM also removed language included in the FY’15 budget that prohibited DHCD from targeting new subsidies to families living in shelters.
6. The House Ways and Means budget would provide increased funding for the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition Program (RAFT, line item 7004-9316) at $12 million.
7. The House Ways and Means budget would provide $64 million in funding for public housing authority operating subsidies (line item 7004-9005), a $100,000 decrease from the FY’15 level.
8. The House Ways and Means budget would level fund the Alternative Housing Voucher Program (AHVP, line item 7004-9030) at $3.55 million.
9. The House Ways and Means budget would level fund the Home and Healthy for Good Program (line item 7004-0104) at $1.8 million. This program employs a Housing First model and historically has provided housing and services to unaccompanied adults who have experienced chronic homelessness. HWM included language to continue a pilot program that serves lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) unaccompanied youth and young adults, funded at no less than $200,000.
10. The House Ways and Means budget would provide $11.5 million to “the depleted Housing Preservation and Stabilization Trust Fund to offer affordable housing for low-income families and individuals”.