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In early July, Gov. Deval Patrick finalized the Fiscal Year 2013 budget.The Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless offered this summary of the budget’s housing/homeless provisions, which include: – A $6 million increase to the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP);– An $8.5 million increase for the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) homelessness prevention program;– A $2 million increase for state-funded public housing operating subsidies;– Language establishing the special commission on unaccompanied youth homelessness;– Full funding of $11.3 million for the transportation of students experiencing homelessness back to their schools of origin;– Critical language requiring the Administration to notify the Legislature at least 60 days before implementing eligibility changes or benefits reductions in the Emergency Assistance (EA), HomeBASE, Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC), and Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children (EAEDC) programs.The Governor also sent back positive amendments on several sections related to the electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card changes proposed by the Legislature. In so doing, he said: “I’m not going to do anything that makes vulnerable people beg for their benefits. This notion of humiliating poor people has got to be separated, and quite frankly disposed of, from how we make a program work and work well and with integrity.”
The Governor also filed a supplemental budget request, which includes a recommendation for additional funds to address family homelessness in FY’13. He is asking for $15 million more for the Emergency Assistance family shelter and services line item. If approved, this would bring EA shelter and motel funding up to $111.7 million, still significantly lower than the FY’12 funding level of $137.5 million. In his letter to the Legislature that accompanied his request, Governor Patrick said:“I am also proposing $15 million for projected funding needs for emergency housing services for low-income families. While the reforms in the emergency family housing program included in the Fiscal Year 2013 budget will save millions of dollars for taxpayers and get better outcomes for families, the current funding level provided in the Fiscal Year 2013 budget is not sufficient to meet projected costs for the entire year.”
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