Thanks to our state partner MA Coalition for the Homeless for this update below. We will share additional statewide updates over the next couple of days, along with a focus on the Network’s regional priorities and action steps to help win important amendments on both the state and regional level. Please stay tuned!

From MA Coalition for the Homeless:

Yesterday, the House Committee on Ways and Means released their budget recommendations for FY22, the fiscal year that will begin on July 1st. House Ways and Means (HWM), chaired by Representative Aaron Michlewitz of Boston, proposed a $47.65 billion budget, including additional funding for key line items in the midst of the ongoing pandemic. You can see their full budget recommendations on the Legislature’s website. Look at how the HWM recommendations compare to our key homelessness, housing, and benefits line item requests in our budget chart (shareable link: Our FY22 budget priorities also are outlined in this budget priority overview sheet (PDF).

House Ways and Means Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Highlights
Here are just a few of the 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 $26.7 million for the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) program, including $22 million in direct appropriations and $4.7 million from the Housing Preservation and Stabilization Trust Fund, before accounting for additional RAFT/RAFT-like resources from federal funds.
  • Related: See the Emergency Rental Assistance Program/RAFT recommendations from the Coalition and Massachusetts Law Reform Institute to the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD): Initial January 2021 letter and follow-up April 2021 letter
  • Provide just under $26 million for the HomeBASE program, without language directing DHCD to renew HomeBASE benefits for families timing out of the program before securing permanent housing
  • Provide $128.4 million in direct appropriations and up to $20 million in unspent funds from FY21 for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP), above the FY21 appropriation of $135 million, but below the FY22 advocacy request of $160 million
  • Provide $8.7 million in recommended direct appropriations for the Alternative Housing Voucher Program (AHVP), plus language to carry forward up to $5.5 million in unspent funds from FY21. If maximum funds were carried over, the HWM proposal would match the FY22 advocacy request of $14.2 million.
  • Increase funding for shelters and services for unaccompanied adults and families with children, in line with our requests
  • Maintain the 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 implemented in January 2021, but would not increase benefits by an additional 20% as recommended in related legislation filed by Representative Marjorie Decker and Senator Sal DiDomenico. HWM included language indicating their support for maintaining or increasing grants going forward: “the payment standard and need standard for fiscal year 2023 shall be not less than the standards set forth in this item”

Chairperson Michlewitz highlighted housing and homelessness issues in his budget letter: “In FY21, one of the main funding priorities of the House was in the area of housing and homelessness. That budget funded programs like the Rental Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) and Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP) at historically high levels. As we move into the FY22 budget, we plan to continue to prioritize these needs and build on previous investments to support individuals, families, and youth. In tandem with an anticipated $800 million in Federal rental assistance funds, this budget will create hundreds of new vouchers that will be utilized to keep at risk families in their homes, particularly important during COVID. Other housing programs and homeless shelters for both individuals and families will also see significant investments.”

What’s Next?
We are working with Representatives now to draft key amendments on homelessness and housing issues. The deadline for Representatives to file amendments is Friday, so we will be in touch very soon with more details as amendments are filed related to programs such as HomeBASE, RAFT, Emergency Assistance (EA) family shelter, Mass ID access for people experiencing homelessness, EAEDC, 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. The full House is scheduled to begin debating the budget on Monday, April 26th. Please stay tuned!

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