Please see below this exciting update from Kelly Turley of the MA Coalition for the Homeless:
We have some exciting updates to share about the Upstream RAFT/rent arrearage program, our top budget and bill priority. Early last Thursday morning, the Legislature passed the long-awaited supplemental budget to close out fiscal year 2019 (see House Bill 4246). It included language and $2.03 million in additional funding for the Upstream RAFT pilot already underway (Residential Assistance for Families in Transition, line item 7004-9316, language in Section 64 of the supplemental budget). The budget also included $2 million in additional funds for school transportation for students experiencing homelessness (line item 7035-0008). On Friday, the Governor signed most parts of the budget, including those sections.
Under the current Upstream RAFT pilot administered by the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), eligible households can access up to $4,000 to assist with back rent and back mortgage payments without having to be in the midst of an eviction or foreclosure. With the passage of the supplemental budget, this cap will increase for most households; it will transition from a flat cap to up to four months of back rent or mortgage payments. This will make this upstream resource even more useful for households paying market-rate housing costs. The budget language directs DHCD to spend at least $7 million on the pilot program and also will allow DHCD to carry over the Upstream RAFT funds until the end of FY’21, in case the funds are not expended fully this fiscal year, FY’20. The budget language formalizes the program, provides greater transparency, and increases accountability through expanded tracking and reporting requirements. An updated version of our Upstream RAFT flyer is included below.
In other Upstream RAFT news, the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Housing will be taking testimony on Representative Marjorie Decker’s legislation, House Bill 1264, to move the Upstream RAFT/rent arrearage program from a pilot program into state statute at a hearing on Tuesday, January 14th between 10:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. the State House in Gardner Auditorium (closest to the Beacon Street entrance).
Hearing page | Bill fact sheet | House bill history page | Organizational endorsement form
We hope to see you at the hearing on January 14th. Please keep reading below for more details on the hearing and advocacy steps.
Thanks for your collaboration!