Following additional discussion and consideration, the Network’s Leadership Council has unanimously voted to amend its position on the Administration’s proposed Emergency Assistance reform.  It continues to unequivocally support the shift of resources to support “housing first” as the solution to homelessness.  At the same time, the Network urges the Legislature to amend the  Administration’s proposal to include necessary improvements and safeguards.   Suggested changes are those already expressed by Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA) in a letter to the legislature.   Click here to read it.  The major points can be summarized as follows:

1) Raise the maximum yearly housing assistance a family may receive under the program to reflect market conditions;
2) Clarify that each family will receive reliable and effective supportive services;
3) Structure the program eligibility to avoid disincentives to families raising income whenever possible;
4) Ensure that families without a roof over their heads are sheltered until they find an apartment using the new program; and
5) Add language that prevents families that have followed their housing stabilization plans or have a disability from being denied access to shelter due to unsuccessful participation in the new program.

The Network would also like to especially emphasize the need for sufficiently funded support services in order to ensure a case manager/family ratio that allows for meaningful support and housing stabilization for families.

A special thank you to Massachusetts Law Reform Institute and Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless for their advocacy and taking the time to meet with the Network and share their perspectives.  Thanks also to CHAPA for their advocacy.  And thanks to Network members who continue to build this network with their commitment to making it true to its goals.

Network leaders are meeting with Representative Stephen Kulik (Franklin County and vice-chair of the House Ways and Means Committee) today.  We look forward to bringing the Network’s own advocacy to the Legislature’s table.

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