ACTION NEEDED to Protect Families in Shelter

Please see this action alert from the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless and please contact your senator:

The full Senate is scheduled today at 11 am to debate its supplemental budget bill that will focus primarily on funding for the Emergency  Assistance (EA) family shleter program and related services.  You can join us at the State House or tune in for the livestream on the Legislature’s website:

Please reach out to your State Senator this morning to ask them to cosponsor and actively support these key amendments (feel free to copy and paste – see below on how to contact your senator!)

  • Amendment 55 from Senator R. Kennedy on removing the proposed time limits on Emergency Assistance (EA) shelter access (9 months plus one or more 90-day extensions) and instead establishing an annual review of continued eligibility for ongoing shelter benefits and establishing criteria for ongoing eligibility
  • Amendment 31 from Senator Miranda on codifying and improving the HomeBASE rehousing program to allow more families to swiftly exit shelter into apartments of their own
  • Amendment 33 from Senator Miranda on extending the initial Emergency Assistance time limit from 9 months to 12 months and extending the periods between reevaluations from 90 days to 180 days to better match the needs of families and decrease the administrative burden on the Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities (EOHLC)
  • Amendment 46 from Senator Eldridge on ensuring that families approved for shelter but awaiting placement are not barred from shelter when an opening becomes available because they increased their income while awaiting placement. The amendment would clarify that the income rules for families already placed in EA shelter also apply to families still on the waiting list.
  • Amendment 62 from Senator Eldridge on strengthening the proposed EA advisory commission by including families with lived experience of homelessness and more providers and advocates to be named directly and to be named by the Governor, Senate President, and Speaker of the House

State Senators can be reached via the State House switchboard: 617-722-2000. The full contact information for each Senator is included on the Legislature’s website. Unsure who your Senator is? Find them by entering your address/address where you are staying here.  After you make your call or send an email to your Senator, let us know.

Why Your Advocacy Matters

The House version of the pending supplemental budget, House Bill 4466, would limit shelter stays for families in the Emergency Assistance shelter program to 9–12 months. While the Senate Ways and Means version would establish an initial authorization of 9-months of shelter benefits, it includes language that would require the Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities to provide one or more 90-day extensions for certain families, a step in the right direction. 

We hope that you will take action today to ask your Senator to further strengthen protections for children and families experiencing homelessness.

To be clear, we stand firmly against artificial time limits on life-saving and life-changing EA benefits. Imposing time limits would put participating families, young children, and pregnant people at serious risk of harm, and would take a disproportionate toll on larger families, people with disabilities, people of color, and other households facing tremendous barriers to securing permanent housing.

We also are concerned about the increased burden this would place on hospitals and clinics, nonprofit agencies, emergency services, and cities and towns across the Commonwealth. We are confident that time limits do not reflect our shared values of being an open, supportive, and responsive state. 

Throughout the 40-year history of our Emergency Assistance shelter system, and in the nearly two years since our shelters opened their doors to historic numbers of families, we have seen state agencies, nonprofits, faith organizations, and volunteers from all walks of life come together to support families at their time of greatest need.

We recognize the difficult fiscal situation the state is facing, but time limits on EA shelter stays are not only unlikely to save money, but may well increase costs in the longer term, while causing untold suffering. 

We hope the Legislature will reconsider this course of action, and we are ready to work with the Legislature, the Administration, our partners, and other stakeholders to create the targeted housing resources and investments we need to ensure all families and individuals in Massachusetts have access to safe, stable, and affordable housing.

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