The Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless compiled an overview of Governor Deval Patrick’s fiscal year 2014 budget recommendations for the Commonwealth, released in late January. This $34.8 billion budget is known as the “House 1” budget (as we are in the first year of the new two-year legislative cycle), and marks the first step on the path to developing the state budget for the fiscal year that will begin on July 1.
As House 1 is only the first of many proposals on the way to the final FY14 budget, your voice will be critical to help protect housing, homelessness, and safety net programs for both families and individuals.
For example, the Governor’s budget would:
• Increase funding for the Emergency Assistance family shelter and services program from the current FY13 appropriation level of $80.0 million to $91.7 million for FY14, leaving eligibility the same as the current standards, while decreasing funding for EA motel placements from $16.6 million to $10 million.
• Decrease funding for the HomeBASE program to $58.8 million (from $83.4 million), reflecting the upcoming “timing out” of many families in the rental assistance portion of the program. This program provides short-term transitional subsidies, diversion, and moving assistance for certain EA-eligible families.
• Fund the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program at $46.5 million, a $4.5 million increase from the FY13 allocation.
• Provide level funding for the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition Program (RAFT) at $8.8 million.
• Provide $64.4 million in funding for public housing authority operating subsidies, a slight decrease from the FY13 level. In addition, the Governor has proposed far-reaching reforms for how public housing is administered.
• Create a new Housing Preservation and Stabilization Trust Fund, to be used to flexibly address unmet housing needs mainly via recaptured savings from other housing line items.
For more details on the governor’s budget, visit the coalition’s web site (http://mahomeless.org/) and click on “Advocacy.”
Contact the Governor’s office to thank Governor Patrick for his proposals to maintain investments/reinvest in the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program, Residential Assistance for Families in Transition, and state-funded public housing, and for protecting many of the core cash assistance and support programs serving families and individuals who are at-risk or experiencing homelessness. The Governor’s office can be reached at 617-725-4005 or 888-870-7770.
Contact your State Representative and State Senator to ask for their support for the Coalition’s budget priorities, in particular:
• Expand the safety net of shelter for families by capturing those families at imminent risk of having to stay in places not meant for human habitation and other families facing dangerous situations
•Increasing the investment in affordable housing programs: HomeBASE, MRVP, and public housing
• Maintaining the investment in the RAFT homelessness prevention program
• Protecting the EAEDC and TAFDC cash assistance programs
• Reimbursing cities and towns for the transportation of children and youth experiencing homelessness back to their schools of origin
State Representatives and Senators can be reached through the State House switchboard: 617-722-2000.