Please see this update from Kelly Turley of the Mass Coalition for the Homeless:
After an extended period of budget negotiations, the FY’19 Budget Conference Committee has completed its work, and has sent their recommendations to the full House and Senate. The $41.88 billion Conference Committee budget, House Bill 4800, incorporates many positive recommendations. Here is a preliminary look at the budget:
· Senate-proposed funding of $3.3 million for housing and wraparound services for unaccompanied youth and young adults experiencing homelessness (line item 4000-0007), matching the Coalition’s Conference Committee request
· Senate-proposed language on maintaining the expanded definition of family for the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition homelessness prevention program (RAFT, line item 7004-9316), and $20 million in funding, exceeding the House’s and Senate’s initial recommendations, as well as the Coalition’s request of $18.5 million
language on the Emergency Assistance family shelter and services program to ensure that the Department of Housing and Community Development continues to take in-person applications in the ten cities and towns with offices as of January 1, 2018, as well as Senate-proposed language to protect families that exceed the income eligibility limit for fewer than 90 days from being terminated (EA, line item 7004-0101), matching parts of the Coalition’s Conference Committee request
language and funding on eliminating the homelessness penalty in the Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children program (EAEDC, line item 4408-1000), so that participants experiencing homelessness will receive the full EAEDC grant: $303.70/month for a household of one, instead of the reduced grant of $92.80/month for a household of one, matching the Coalition’s Conference Committee request
funding of $100 million on the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP, line item 7004-9024), matching the Coalition’s Conference Committee request
· Senate-proposed language to increase the maximum benefit under the HomeBASE program (line item 7004-0108) from $8,000/year/family up to $10,000, matching the Coalition’s Conference Committee request
· House and Senate improvements to the Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children program (TAFDC, line item 403-2000 and Outside Sections): House and Senate language on eliminating the family cap rule, Senate-proposed language on implementing the family cap repeal by January 1, 2019, Senate-proposed language on increasing the annual children’s clothing allowance to $350/child, and House-proposed language to increase the TAFDC asset limit from $2,500 to $5,000.
Unfortunately, the Conference Committee did not include Senate-proposed language to prevent families from having to stay in places not meant for human habitation before being able to access EA. (Related legislation, House Bill 659, still is pending in House Ways and Means.)
Once the Conference Committee budget is approved by both the House and Senate, it will head to Governor Charlie Baker. He will have 10 days to sign the budget and issue any vetoes. With the Legislature scheduled to end formal sessions for this two-year legislative cycle on Tuesday, July 31st, there will not be much time for legislators to override any gubernatorial vetoes, so please reach out to Governor Baker today to ask him to preserve the important investments and budget language listed above. The Governor’s contact information is here: www.mass.gov/orgs/
In addition, please also take a few minutes to thank your State Senator and Representative for their efforts to create a strong budget, and ask them to push for any needed veto overrides. You can look up your elected officials on www.wheredoivotema.com.
Please also thank the Conference Committee members: Senate Ways and Means Chair Karen Spilka, Senate Ways and Means Vice Chair Joan Lovely, Senate Ways and Means Ranking Minority Member Viriato (Vinny) deMacedo, House Ways and Means Chair Jeffrey Sánchez, House Ways and Means Vice Chair Stephen Kulik, and House Ways and Means Ranking Minority Member Todd Smola, as well as Senate President Harriette Chandler and House Speaker Robert DeLeo.