Late last week, the State Legislature passed the Fiscal Year 2022 State Budget. Here are some highlights impacting housing and homelessness:
- For Western MA: a very exciting advance for the Safe Havens program in Hampshire and Franklin Counties! Over $400,000 will be coming to the region to fund 7 beds of this intensively supported housing option for extremely vulnerable people. A big shout-out to Senator Jo Comerford and Representative Lindsay Sabadosa for their leadership on this and to our Western MA delegation for their support.
- Also for the Western MA Network to End Homelessness itself: The budget includes $75,000 to allow us to continue our work. Thank you to Senator Adam Hinds for his leadership and again, to our Western MA delegation for their support.
Statewide Highlights (thanks to CHAPA, Mass. Coalition for the Homeless, Mass. Housing and Shelter Alliance and the Regional Transit Authority Coalition):
- Keeping the $10,000 maximum RAFT benefit in place until the end of the year. After December 31, the maximum benefit drops to $7,000. The budget would also allow eligible households to receive the maximum benefit for both RAFT and HomeBASE through June 2022.
- Including rent increases to 110% of the current annual fair market rent in the Alternative Housing Voucher Program
- Restoring the funding that the Governor’s FY22 Budget Recommendation had cut in the Home & Healthy for Good line item (7004-0104) and the Rapid Transition of Homeless Individuals into Sustainable Permanent Housing line item (7004-0202).
- Funding the Homeless Individuals Assistance line item (7004-0102) at $57,855,000.
- Investing $1 million in the DMH Statewide Homelessness Support Services line item (5046-2000) “to expand safe haven housing in a manner that ensures geographically equitable access.” (this includes Safe Havens funding for Franklin/Hampshire County)
- Investing $10 million in the Bureau of Substance Addiction Services line item (4512-0200) “expanding low-threshold housing, employing a housing first model, for homeless individuals with substance use and mental health disorders at risk for the human immunodeficiency virus.”
- The budget did NOT adopt language in the Mass Rental Voucher Program that would lower the tenant rent share to 30% of income, as proposed by the Senate. The budget did include language that would allow program participants with mobile-vouchers to pay more than 40% of their income, at their option, after the first year of being in the program, as proposed by in both the Governor’s and House budgets.
- Level-funding unaccompanied youth and young adult services at $8 million.
- Investing $94 million in Regional Transit Authorities for base operating (with no performance grant language).
- Increasing funding to career centers to $9.5 million.
The House and Senate are expected to quickly vote to accept the conference budget and send it to the Governor. He will have 10 days to sign the budget or send it back to the Legislature with vetoes or other recommendations.
We will keep you posted!