The Network is communicating with our Western MA Senators to request their support of the following amendments to the Senate Ways and Means (SWM) Budget, per our FY16 budget priorities. Please email or call your Senator and add your Network voice ((find your Senator’s contact info by going here). Note: If Senate President Rosenberg is your senator, while he cannot sponsor amendments in his position, it is still extremely important to communicate your support!
1. Secure Jobs Initiative: Ask your senator to sign on as a co-sponsor to Senator Barrett’s amendment to increase Senate funding from $600,000 as proposed in the SWM budget, to $2 million. This amount is necessary to effectively level fund the program statewide, enabling both Western Mass. and 6 other successful programs to continue to provide employment services and ultimately housing stability for hundreds of families.
2. Housing Consumer Education Center (HCEC): Ask your senator to sign on as a co-sponsor to Senator Wolf’s amendment to increase funding for this critical homelessness prevention resource from $1.7 million (in SWM) to the House FY16 allocation amount of $2.6 million without any earmarks. This funding increase would restore funding to FY14 levels and is essential to avoid significant losses in prevention services in every Western county and across the Commonwealth.
3. Friends of the Homeless Resource Center funding for $350,000: Ask your senator to sign on as a co-sponsor to Senator Welch’s amendment (or thank him if he is your Springfield Senator!) to fund Friends of the Homeless in Springfield at $350,000 to preserve basic emergency shelter, re-housing and support services. The Network initially sought an increase in the nightly bed rate to $32/night statewide to help close the gap in Western MA funding for individual shelters (FOH currently receives $25/night). However, because this proposal has not been adopted by the House or SWM, we have shifted our focus to saving FOH from drastic cuts in services. Our Network has recognized the role FOH plays across the entire region in providing services for homeless individuals and we are committed to ensuring it is able to continue to provide that role.
4. Tenancy Preservation Project funding for $1 million: Ask your senator to sign on as a co-sponsor to Senator Welch’s amendment (or thank him if he is your senator) to increase SWM funding of $500,000 to $1,000,000 in order to serve more disabled individuals and families who are threatened with eviction. This is a critical homelessness prevention program for Western MA and statewide.
5. Network funding of $125,000: The House budget included $125,000 in Network funding that will allow us to continue the coordination and data-driven plan to end homelessness for Western MA. We are currently in pursuit of a sponsor for a Senate amendment for this Network funding, so please stay tuned on any additional advocacy around this item.
Finally, we are so pleased that Senate Ways and Means included a new line item, 4000-0007, with recommended funding of $2 million to provide housing and wraparound services to unaccompanied homeless youth, allowing for the implementation of the new Chapter 450 law that mandated these resources for this under-served population. This is great news, and please ask your senator for their continued support.
For additional Senate Ways and Means budget analyses, see Mass Budget and Policy Center report here and Mass. Law Reform Institute analysis here.