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Citizens' Housing and Planning Association: State Budget Priorities

State Budget Priorities

CHAPA FY2014 State Budget Priorities for Affordable Housing and Homelessness Prevention

Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP) (7004-9024)                      
FY’14 Request: $60 million

MRVP is the most effective tool to immediately address the overwhelming need to help people at-risk of homelessness secure affordable housing. Through a combination of project-based vouchers and new mobile vouchers, this program provides safe affordable housing for families and individuals experiencing instability. $60 million will provide an additional 1,400 mobile and project-based vouchers and fund the existing stock of 5,000 vouchers. In addition, by basing eligibility on area median income rather than the federal poverty level, we can better address the needs of households in each region of the Commonwealth.

Public Housing Operating Subsidy (7004-9005)                                 
FY’14 Request: $71 million

Public housing funding is significantly shy of the $115 million appropriation DHCD and Harvard University independently identify as necessary to adequately maintain this asset. Housing authority rental income has decreased in line with the recession because state public housing rents are capped at 32% of income. As a result, housing authorities have been forced to take units off-line because they don’t have adequate maintenance capacity. $71 million will reverse that trend and provide the operating support necessary to provide acceptable maintenance in public housing and return vacant public housing back to productive use.

Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) (7004-9316)
FY’14 Request: $8.7 million

RAFT enables families that experience unemployment or other challenges to avoid homelessness through an array of assistance necessary to maintain housing or move into their next home.  The increase in FY2013 has prevented more than 900 families from homelessness at an average cost of $2,357. RAFT has the ability to further prevent homelessness through increased flexibility. By allowing RAFT to be used for short term accommodations of up to 15 days, families who have secured housing not immediately available would be able to avoid shelter or unsafe housing situations.  

Alternative Housing Voucher Program (AHVP) (7004-9030)             
FY’14 Request: $4.5 million    

AHVP provides rental assistance to over 400 very low income households with persons with disabilities. Together with MRVP, this program is capable of furthering the Commonwealth’s goal of providing persons with disabilities with choices to live in community-based housing and avoid more costly institutional living. $4.5 million will provide rental assistance to more than 500 households.

Tenancy Preservation Program (TPP) (7004-3045)                             
FY’14 Request: $700,000

TPP prevents homelessness among people with disabilities by working with landlords and tenants, and providing clinical consultation services to the Housing Court. Over one-third of TPP participants have had a history of homelessness before participating in TPP, and approximately half of the participants are single parents with children. The program is extremely cost effective, stabilizing 82% of households served with an average cost of $2,377 per case.

Housing Consumer Education Centers (HCECs) (7004-3036)                       
FY’14 Request: $3 million

The HCECs are an essential element in the delivery systems for other state-funded housing resources, such as the RAFT and HomeBASE programs, meeting with families facing immediate housing crises to assess their circumstances and refer them to available resources. HCECs are also pro-active; offering education for tenants, landlords, and homeowners to promote safe, stable and sustainable housing. During the first six months of this fiscal year, the HCECs assisted over 29,000 households with more than 7,000 of those at risk of homelessness or seeking shelter. With adequate funding, these Centers are poised to help households facing housing and economic instability.

Home and Healthy for Good (7004-0104)                                           
FY’14 Request: $2.2 million

Home and Healthy for Good is a critical Housing First program. As of January 2013, 638 former chronically homeless people were housed through this program. Since its start in 2006, only 17 people have been documented as returning to homelessness. Data has shown the annual cost to the Commonwealth per person decreased from $33,776 before housing to $24,084 in housing and support costs after housing placement, resulting in an annual savings of $9,692 per person.

HomeBASE (7004-0108)                                                                     
FY’14 Request: More resources are needed in order to ensure that families assisted through HomeBASE do not become homeless once the assistance ends. We stand ready to serve as partners in developing a plan for stabilizing these families, identifying the necessary level of funding, and creating a long term strategy to end homelessness.

With rental assistance scheduled to end in FY’14, it is critical that the Commonwealth develop a plan and allocate appropriate resources to ensure that families receiving rental assistance do not become homeless when the assistance ends. Data from DHCD indicates the average monthly income of families receiving HomeBASE rental assistance is $795 and their monthly housing costs an average of $1,173. Workforce training, transportation, and childcare assistance are some of the critical components necessary for families to increase their incomes and maintain housing and will need to be included in the Commonwealth’s efforts to address homelessness.

Foreclosure Prevention Counseling (7006-0011 – retained revenue)    
FY’14 Request: $2.6 million

Ch. 206 foreclosure counseling grants have helped achieve the best possible outcome for many struggling homeowners. The foreclosure counseling grants are funded through retained revenue from mortgage loan originator license fees. In 2010, 6,174 homeowners were helped through this program.

Massachusetts Access Affordable Housing Registry (4120-4001)       
FY’14 Request: $80,000

The Mass. Access Registry is an online tool that consumers and housing search workers use to find affordable housing that does not have physical barriers to persons with disabilities. More than 82,000 people used the site in 2012 to search for housing.

Resident Service Coordinators                                                                       
FY’14 Request: $2.5 million

The funding would provide services in 50 new or existing developments to help tenants with modest incomes maintain housing stability and maximize their independence. As the Legislature recognized with the passage of the Supportive Housing Initiative in 2012, housing is critical in connecting residents to healthcare and other vital services that increase household stability.

For more information, please contact

Rachel Heller, CHAPA Director of Public Policy, Rheller@chapa.org