January 28, 2019

Greetings!

As January flies by and the bill cosponsorship deadline rapidly approaches, we respectfully ask you to cosponsor key bills to promote housing stability, economic supports, and human rights .

We also would like to share our take on the Governor's budget recommendations for fiscal year 2020 . See below for more details.

Thank you for your partnership and interest! Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions or feedback.
  
With gratitude,

Kelly Turley
Associate Director
Please Sign on to Key Bills for the
New Legislative Session
We have been working with legislators to file and refile critical legislation related to homelessness, housing, and benefits, and hope that you can support these efforts by cosponsoring and actively support the bills on this list. ( A partial list is below.)

Top Bill Priority Campaigns

- Re-establish an upstream statewide rental arrearage program to help households (families, youth, elders, people with disabilities, et al.) avoid homelessness by providing back rent assistance

  • Lead Sponsor: Representative Marjorie Decker
  • Docket Number: House Docket 2395
  • Fact sheet
  • The program would be under the Departments of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) and allow access to resources before a household has begun the eviction process. Eligible households could qualify for funding to cover up to 4 months' back rent or back mortgage payments. It would be a companion program to the existing Residential Assistance for Families in Transition program (RAFT), which currently only is available later on in the eviction or foreclosure process.


- Ensure that families experiencing homelessness do not have to stay in a place not meant for human habitation before being eligible for Emergency Assistance (EA) family shelter and services 

  • Lead Sponsor: Representative Marjorie Decker
  • Docket Number: House Docket 2406
  • Over 3,500 families have stayed in places not meant for human habitation before later being approved for shelter since a misguided policy was implemented in 2012 requiring many families to do so. See the chart below.


- Ease access to standard Massachusetts ID cards for people experiencing homelessness by eliminating the $25 fee and allowing alternative ways to verify Massachusetts residency without requiring a permanent address

  • Lead Sponsors: Senator Harriette Chandler and Representative Kay Khan
  • Docket Numbers: Senate Docket 667 and House Docket 1263
  • This bill would allow access to standard Mass IDs, not REAL ID Act-compliant Mass IDs, for which residents must provide additional verifications that meet federal standards.


- Improve the Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children program (EAEDC) 
  • Lead Sponsors: Senator Pat Jehlen and Representative Jim O'Day
  • Docket Numbers: Senate Docket 1382 and House Docket 605
  • This bill would put the recent removal of the EAEDC homelessness penalty into statute, increase monthly grant levels, provide an annual cost of living adjustment, and increase the program's asset limit from $250 to $2,500.


- Establish a bill of rights for people experiencing homelessness

  • Lead Sponsors: Senator Becca Rausch and Representative Smitty Pignatelli
  • Docket Numbers: Senate Docket 1952 and House Docket 2776 (PDF); very similar legislation also was filed by Senator Nick Collins: Senate Docket 2170
  • This bill would be a statement of legislative intent, recognizing and affirming various rights of people experiencing homelessness, such as the right to move freely in public spaces, the right to confidentiality of records, the right to privacy of property, the right to register to vote and to vote, etc.


- Promote the safety, dignity, and civil rights of people experiencing homelessness

  • Lead Sponsors: Senator Becca Rausch and Representative Liz Miranda
  • Docket Numbers: Senate Docket 1950 and House Docket 3764
  • This bill would build on the work to decrease discrimination and to establish a bill of rights (see above), and would provide additional civil rights protections for people experiencing homelessness. The bill would affirm the right to rest, eat, pray, and be in public spaces by amending the Commonwealth's public spaces laws (Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 45), amend the Commonwealth's voting laws to affirm the right to register to vote without a permanent address (Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 50, Section 1), amend the Commonwealth's anti-discrimination laws to include housing status (Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 151B), and repeal archaic sections of Massachusetts General Laws regarding so-called "tramps","vagrants", and "vagabonds" (Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 272, Sections 63-69).


Register Today to Be Part of
Legislative Action Day 2019

We hope that you and your staff will register today to join us for Legislative Action Day 2019, taking place in the Great Hall on Thursday, February 28th. The day will include inspiring speakers and opportunities to learn more about issues and policy recommendations to address homelessness in Massachusetts.

This year's event will be hosted by State Representative Jim O'Day in the Great Hall. Registration/sign-in and light breakfast will begin at 9 a.m., and the formal agenda will run from 9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. In the afternoon, participants will meet with legislative offices, so we may be in touch to set up appointments for your constituents.

Registration is quick and easy: Register now online or just email Kelly to RSVP .
Governor Baker's Fiscal Year 2020 Budget Recommendations on Homelessness, Housing, and Benefits Issues
Last week, we reviewed Governor Charlie Baker's $42.7 billion proposed budget for FY'20. Here is our preliminary FY'20 budget chart comparing current FY'19 appropriations, the Coalition's FY'20 budget requests, and the proposed funding and language advanced by the Governor.

We look forward to working with you to strengthen the budget as it moves through the various stages before July 1st arrives.
Thank you!