May 14, 2019


We need your help to strengthen the Senate's version of the FY'20 state budget.  Please call your State Senator tomorrow to ask them to sign on to, and actively support, critical Senate budget amendments related to homelessness, housing, and benefits.  You can look up your State Senator via or call the State House switchboard at 617-722-2000.  After calling or emailing them, please  let us know what the response was .

Key Amendments

Amendment #797  to establish and fund the upstream Rent Arrearage Assistance Program (RAAP) under the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition program, filed by Senator Pat Jehlen of Somerville and currently cosponsored by Senator Jim Welch: RAAP Senate amendment fact sheet  - PDF; call script - PDF; talking points - PDF

Amendment #464  to ease access to Mass IDs for people experiencing homelessness, filed by Senate President Emerita Harriette Chandler of Worcester and currently cosponsored by Senator Jim Welch: Mass ID access amendment fact sheet  - PDF

Amendment #715  to provide an additional $20 million to the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program, filed by Senator Brendan Crighton of Lynn and currently cosponsored by Senators Michael Moore and Jim Welch: general FY'20 MRVP budget fact sheet  - PDF

We also are partnering with allied organizations on related amendments to additional programs, including:

Amendment #872   to allow families in Emergency Assistance (EA) shelter to increase their incomes to 200% of the federal poverty guidelines before going over the income limit, filed by Senator Patrick O'Connor of Weymouth (as described in our budget priority chart )


Last week, 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)
  • $6.5 million in additional funding for state-funded public housing operating subsidies (line item 7004-9005) that would increase funding to $72 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 information about key budget amendments (see columns K-L ).

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

When calling to ask your Senator to cosponsor and support amendments, if your Senator is a member of Senate Ways and Means or Senate leadership , please also thank them for the strong budget.

In addition, see below for details about a celebration happening tomorrow to mark passage of the legislation that repeals the welfare family cap rule. Please join us at the State House at 1:30 p.m., if you can, and share the invitation with your State Representative and Senator. (In an uplifting update from the Department of Transitional Assistance, as of this morning, 4,000 children who previously were subject to the family cap rule already have been approved for benefits, with thousands of additional children set to receive benefits shortly, now that the repeal is being implemented.)

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

Kelly Turley
Associate Director