The HomeBASE program is at risk of abruptly ending on April 30 without supplemental funding. The House of Representatives did not include any HomeBASE funding in its supplemental budget. The Senate Ways and Means Committee just released its supplemental budget which includes $3 million for HomeBASE. This is great news. And now we need to ensure the full Senate votes in support of this provision. Please contact your state senator to urge their continued leadership on this support for HomeBASE funding. You can find your legislator by clicking here.
See below for HAPHousing’s summary of what’s at stake, and thank you for your advocacy!
URGENT: Funding for the HomeBASE program in FY 2015 needs to be increased by approximately $4 million by April 30, 2015. (7004-0108 Massachusetts Short Term Housing Transition Program)
We very recently learned that the HomeBASE program will shut down on or about the end of April when the current FY 2015 appropriation is exhausted unless there is a supplemental appropriation. No additional funds were included in the supplemental budget adopted by the House on Wednesday.
Among the consequences of a shutdown are:
- Suspension of currently successful efforts to divert families from shelterwhich would result in an increase of 120 or more additional admissions to shelter/motels each month. We note that the diversion effort has resulted in 20% or more of potential shelter applicants being diverted to other less costly solutions; in Western Massachusetts, the diversion rate is in excess of 50%.
- Suspension of “housing placement efforts” that currently re-house more than 75 families each month.
- More than 100 families who are currently enrolled in HomeBASE would experience a loss of modest monthly, time limited stipends toward their rent during the suspension. This could result in evictions for non-payment of rent and a return to shelter for some portion of that number.
- In Short, termination of the HomeBASE program at the end of April would result in a substantial disruption of the current effort that has become very effective at diversion, placement, and stabilization.
On the basis of our experience, we believe that motel numbers have declined in large part due to the effective use of HomeBASE to divert families who would otherwise have been admitted to shelter and to re-house families from the shelters and motels to permanent housing. HomeBASE diversion participants receive a one-time package typically costing $6-8,000. Those who are placed in motels or shelters average 6 months in the EA system at a cost of $15-18,000 – and then receive HomeBASE’s $6-8,000 when they finally do locate housing.
As a consequence of suspension of the program, rather than seeing a continued decline in the number of families in shelters and motels, we would experience yet another increase in the number of families in hotels by 400 in June and July alone. Taking into account the likely slow re-start of program operations, that number could rise to 800 by the end of August.
Substantial efforts have been made over the past several years to stem the tide of homelessness in Massachusetts. Over the past two years, part of that effort has been focused on reducing the number of families placed in motels, an issue that was of great concern particularly in West Springfield, Chicopee, Holyoke, and Greenfield where the number of families living in motels far exceeded the number of homeless families that had originated from those particular communities.
Governor Charlie Baker has made elimination of the use of motel rooms for family shelter and the overall reduction of family homelessness a major objective of his administration.
The good news is that the number of families in motels is now around 1400, down from a peak of more than 2200. In total, including the shelters, there are 4400 families currently in our “emergency shelter” system.
As a consequence of a failure to fund this program for the balance of the year, the number of families placed in motels will rise and the Emergency Assistance account will incur additional deficits that will require further supplemental appropriations.