On Thursday,  May 2, the Leadership Council of the Western Massachusetts Network to End Homelessness voted by overwhelming majority to support the following positions in the Senate budget debate:

1.  Protect families from sleeping in places unfit for human habitation: expand RAFT as a resource to meet this emergency need.
  • Change the RAFT budget language to permit use of funds to pay for emergency accommodations for families at imminent risk of homelessness for a maximum of 7 nights.  Funds could be used for this purpose without a prior determination that the family will be eligible for either Emergency Assistance or RAFT.
  • Funds used to pay for emergency accommodations will not reduce a family’s maximum RAFT allocation (currently at $4,000).
  •  Increase the RAFT appropriation by $500,000 to account for the projected cost of emergency accommodations.
2.  Increase the shelter bed rate to $30/night to bring all shelters in line with the state average payment and provide essential funding to serve the individual homeless population.

3.  Fully fund the Tenancy Preservation Program to ensure adequate homelessness prevention services to disabled tenants.

The Leadership Council will continue to discuss and advocate on additional issues impacting homelessness (e.g., MRVP and HomeBASE programs), but was able to gain organizational clarity on these positions right now.

We are encouraging all Network partners to advocate for the positions outlined above.  Please contact Senate leaders and members of the Senate Ways and Means Committee:

Senate President Therese Murray, 617-722-1500, [email protected]

Senate Majority Leader Stan Rosenberg, 617-722-1532, [email protected]

Chair, Senate Ways and Means: Senator Stephen Brewer: 617-722-1540, [email protected]
Senator Gail Candaras: 617-722-1291 [email protected]
Senator Ben Downing: 617-722-1625 [email protected]
Senator Michael Knapik, 617-722-1415, [email protected]

And of course call your own senator if not already included above!
Thanks so much for your participation in this process and for your advocacy on behalf of the people and communities we serve.  We will continue to keep you posted about Leadership Council advocacy as it evolves.

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