Thanks to the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless for this update:
Yesterday, the House Committee on Ways and Means released their long-awaited budget recommendations for FY21, the fiscal year that began back on July 1st. House Ways and Means (HWM), chaired by Representative Aaron Michlewitz of Boston, proposed a $46 billion budget, including additional funding for key line items in the midst of the pandemic.
You can see their full budget recommendations on the Legislature’s website and look at how the HWM recommendations compare to our key homelessness, housing, and benefits line item requests in our budget chart.
House Ways and Means Fiscal Year 2021 Budget Highlights
Here are just a few of the exciting highlights of what the House Ways and Means budget would do:
- Provide $8 million for housing and services for unaccompanied youth and young adults experiencing homelessness, matching our request
- Provide $54.7 million for the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) program, including $50 million in direct appropriations and $4.7 million from the Housing Preservation and Stabilization Trust Fund, in line with our request
- Remove language that prohibits families from maximizing needed resources from the RAFT and HomeBASE programs, in line with our request
- Provide $134.5 million for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP), including $125.5 million in direct appropriations and $9.5 million in unspent funds from FY20, basically matching our appropriations request
- Provide $8.13 million for the Alternative Housing Voucher Program (AHVP), including $6.2 million in direct appropriations and $1.9 million in unspent funds from FY20, slightly exceeding our appropriations request
- Increase funding for shelters and services for unaccompanied adults and families with children, in line with our requests
- Provide a 10% increase in monthly benefits for participants in the Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children (EAEDC) and Transitional Aid to the Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC) programs, as requested via related legislation
- Direct courts to issue stays of judgment and execution in eviction cases to allow time for households to receive decisions on emergency rental assistance applications
As HWM highlighted in their budget narrative, “The Department of Housing and Community Development provides affordable housing options and essential financial support to vulnerable families and communities in Massachusetts. In order to help the state’s efforts, the House Committee on Ways and Means budget recommendation expands the capacity of all emergency homeless assistance and prevention programs. The fiscal year 2021 budget includes a $66M increase from last year’s general appropriations budget to ensure that these important programs continue to support and provide safe housing for thousands of individuals and families across the Commonwealth.”
We are working with Representatives now to draft key amendments on homelessness and housing issues. The deadline for Representatives to file amendments is tomorrow night at 8 p.m., so we will be in touch very soon with more details as amendments are filed related to HomeBASE, RAFT, Emergency Assistance family shelter, Mass ID access for people experiencing homelessness, eviction prevention, and other related issues. We also will be adding amendment details to our budget chart.
We will be looking for you to help us secure amendment cosponsors by reaching out to your State Representative. While this year’s process is somewhat unclear, House members likely will be able to sign on as amendment cosponsors until particular amendments are debated. The full House is scheduled to begin debating the budget next Tuesday, November 10th. Please stay tuned!