May 8, 2019


Yesterday, the Senate Committee on Ways and Means released its fiscal year 2020 budget recommendations . This is the first budget under the leadership of Senate President Karen Spilka of Ashland and Senate Ways and Means Chair Michael Rodrigues of Westport. Senate Ways and Means (SWM) recommended $42.7 billion in spending for the new fiscal year, which will begin on July 1st.

The budget includes strong recommended language and proposed investments in homelessness, housing, and benefits programs, including:

  • Emergency Assistance family and shelter program (EA, line item 7004-0101) language to ensure that families experiencing homelessness do not have to sleep in places not meant for human habitation before becoming eligible for EA shelter (matching our advocacy request on places not meant for human habitation; partially matching our overall request)
  • $1.7 million in additional funding for housing and services for unaccompanied youth and young adults experiencing homelessness, which would bring the funding level up to $5 million (matching our advocacy request)
  • Level funding of $20 million for the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition program (RAFT, line item 7004-9316), and language that would maintain access for households without dependent children (partially matching our overall advocacy request)
  • $10 million in new funding for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP, line item 7004-9024), which would bring the funding level up to $110 million, and language that would update the allowable monthly rent levels to match current fair market rents for mobile subsidies issued or leased after August 1, 2019 (partially matching our advocacy request)
  • $1.85 million in additional funding for the Alternative Housing Voucher Program (AHVP, line item 7004-9030) that would increase funding to $8 million (matching our advocacy request)
  • Language that would maintain full Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children program (EAEDC, line item 4408-1000) benefits to participants experiencing homelessness (matching our advocacy request)
  • Important funding and language for the Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children program (TAFDC, line item 4403-2000), including language that would remove the homelessness penalty and restore benefits to families experiencing homelessness, as well as additional funds to provide benefits to families previously subject to the family cap rule (matching/addressing our advocacy request)

Here is our updated FY'20 budget chart , with our initial analysis of key line items related to homelessness, housing, and benefits, and preliminary information about budget amendments that will be filed to improve upon the SWM budget (see columns K-L ).

We are working to confirm Senate sponsors for two key amendments: one to establish and fund the upstream Rent Arrearage Assistance Program under RAFT (see details on our fact sheet on the related House budget amendment - PDF ), and another to ease access to Mass IDs for people experiencing homelessness (see details on our fact sheet on the related House budget amendment - PDF ). We also are partnering with allied organizations on related amendments to additional programs, including EA, MRVP, and HomeBASE.

State Senators can file amendments until noon on Friday, and can cosponsor amendments until the full Senate budget debate, which is scheduled to begin on Tuesday, May 21st.

We will be back in touch soon with additional amendment details and updates so that you can help us secure as many amendment cosponsors as possible. In the meantime, if your Senator is a member of Senate Ways and Means or Senate leadership , please thank them for the strong budget.

We continue to be grateful for your collaboration and interest!
In solidarity,

Kelly Turley
Associate Director