When projected revenue is less than projected spending, the Massachusetts Governor is authorized to make mid-year budget cuts.  Today, Governor Patrick announced $277 million in cuts across state Executive branch budgets for the current fiscal year.

The biggest impact on our work toward ending homelessness is the $2.7 million cut to line item 7004-0102 in DHCD’s budget, Homeless Individuals Assistance.  The cut is 7.4% of the line item.  As the Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance states in its analysis, the reduction to this line item represents 93 percent of the reduction faced by the DHCD.  MHSA notes that the cut to homeless providers most likely will not take place until January 1, 2010, which means it will actually be closer to a 15 percent reduction to line item 7004-0102 for the remainder of the fiscal year.

This line items funds individual shelters, but it also funds Western Massachusetts Housing First REACH/CSPECH pilot, which has been a cornerstone of the work we are doing to end homelessness among individuals.  These funds pay for the casemanagement support for the 24 hard-to-serve individuals who were moved off the streets of Springfield in 2007, and who have been stably housed since.  In addition to being a component of Springfield’s success in reducing individual homelessness, it is this pilot which has served as a model for the Western Mass Network’s ICHH-funded services.

Some programs that we worried might face cuts were spared: there were no cuts to Department of Mental Health Club Houses to serve the mentally ill; family shelters; MRVP rental vouchers; or local housing authorities.  Home & Healthy for Good, MHSA’s Housing First program, was spared, and so was the Tenancy Preservation Program.

Regarding the individual homeless assistance cut, MHSA’s Joe Finn says

It’s as if Governor Patrick is snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.  The Homeless Individuals Assistance line item was already underfunded, yet even so we have been successful in reducing the numbers of homeless individuals across the Commonwealth, documented significant reductions in Medicaid costs of these individuals and forwarded new and innovative housing programs with high retention rates and dramatic cost savings.  Yet all of this progress is now in danger of being decimated by these cuts.  Frankly, I’m astonished by the Governor’s actions.

In past years, 9c cuts have been reduced or eliminated when there was significant public opposition to the cuts.  To protest the 9c cut to the individual homeless assistance line item, call  Governor Patrick at (617) 725-4005.  (MHSA: “express your outrage at these disproportionate and ill-advised cuts that affect the poorest of the poor in Massachusetts.”)

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