As many of you know, Friends of the Homeless in Springfield, our region’s largest shelter for homeless individuals, has been funded at an average per bed/per night rate of $12.97.  This is in contrast to an average rate across the state of $30/night.  As a result of some hard-won advocacy by FOH and others, the House is now considering an amendment (#701) that will correct this inequity and provide a minimum rate of $30per bed/per night for all shelters across the state.  Please see the message below from Bill Miller, executive director of Friends of the Homeless, to our Western Massachusetts legislators for more detail.  Mass. Housing and Shelter Alliance (MHSA) has also come out in support of this amendment.  Please add your voice in support TODAY – the House budget is being debated right now.   Click here for contact information for your legislator.

To the Western Mass delegation:

On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Friends of the Homeless, I would like to thank Representative Wagner and all of the co-sponsors of Amendment 701 noted below. In these times that remain difficult for so many of our fellow citizens, we appreciate the adjustment proposed in this amendment. Embedded in this amendment, the adjustment from $12.97 per night to $30 per night for our agency will allow us to continue to provide the important services that not only shelter people overnight, but also provide services during the day that are vital to ending homelessness one person at a time. Please do what you can to help see this amendment through. Thank you.

Background: As most of you are aware, Friends of the Homeless in Springfield has long advocated for an adjustment to Line Item 7004-0102, (see attached). We have appreciated the support of the delegation and  the Commonwealth in developing comprehensive resource center facilities that include shelter and meals, a medical and dental clinic, supportive services that are provided through a variety of collaborations, and new housing that follows the Housing First blueprint. While we have completed construction, and have been in operation now for nearly one year, we have not made progress in securing adequate operational funding. Friends of the Homeless is seeking the state average unit rate per bed, $30 per night, and is offering this array of 24 hour services in return. We are efficient and have proven ourselves effective. But, we are operating at a serious deficit given that there has been no rate adjustment despite the recommendation of the House and Senate last year.

Amendment 701 addresses not only the disparity for our agency, but for every agency or program receiving less than $30 per night to provide services. This increase would positively impact the services provided in Westfield and in Hampshire and Franklin counties, as well. And, in a number of towns and cities in Eastern Mass, too.

 Amendment #701 to H03400

 Homeless Shelter Assistance

Representatives Wagner of Chicopee, Coakley-Rivera of Springfield, Kane of Holyoke, Sciback of South Hadley, Swan of Springfield Toomey of Cambridge, Puppolo of Springfield, and Garlick of Needham move to amend the bill in section 2, in item 7004-0102 by striking the item and inserting in place thereof:-

“7004-0102 For the homelessness program to assist individuals who are homeless or in danger of becoming homeless, including assistance to organizations which provide shelter, transitional housing and services that help individuals avoid entry into shelter or successfully exit shelter; provided, that no organization providing services to the homeless shall receive less than an average per bed/per night rate of $30.00; provided further, that the department may allocate funds to other agencies for the purposes of this program; and provided further, that no funds shall be expended for costs associated with the homeless management information system ………………… $43,292,852

We understand these are difficult times. That is why support of this amendment is so critical.

Bill Miller
Executive Director
Friends of the Homeless

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