On July 21st, the Conference Committee finalized its budget for fiscal year 2020. Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA) thanks the Conference Committee for recognizing the urgent need to expand investments in affordable housing, which help families thrive and build vibrant communities.
The Conference budget adopts the higher appropriations for resources to help address the needs of people facing housing instability, including persons with disabilities, through additional housing vouchers and desperately needed funding to support housing authorities and their residents.
The Conference Committee allocates $116 million for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP), including a $6 million appropriation carried over from FY2019 funding. The Conference budget includes a critical program improvement to raise the rent standards for new vouchers to current fair market rents, which were last updated in 2005. This will make the rental vouchers more effective for families looking for an affordable home.
The Conference budget provides $8 million in funding for the Alternative Housing Voucher Program (AHVP). This will help create nearly 200 new vouchers for persons with disabilities find an affordable, accessible home.
The Conference budget also gives a 10% increase in funding for Public Housing, the first significant increase in funding for housing authorities in a decade that will help better support over 45,000 households living in state-assisted public housing in Massachusetts.
Housing Consumer Education Centers (HCECs), the regional housing non-profit agencies that administer affordable housing programs and education courses to every community in Massachusetts, received $750,000 in additional funding. The increased resources will allow the agencies to serve even more families and individuals searching for affordable homes.
The Conference budget provides an $800,000 increase for homebuyer education and foreclosure counseling programs to promote and protect homeowners.
The Conference budget also expands critical homelessness prevention programs like Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) through increased allocation $1 million to serve more low-income households facing housing instability. The budget also creates a new $500,000 program within RAFT to provide housing assistance to survivors of domestic violence.
The Conference Committee expands the Home and Healthy for Good program with $500,000 in increased allocation to create a statewide supportive housing pilot program for chronically homeless individuals.
Finally, the Conference budget provides $5 million for housing and services for unaccompanied homeless youth and young adults.
The Conference Committee budget increases funding for the statewide Community Preservation Act (CPA) Trust Fund through increased recording at the State’s Registries of Deeds. This will provide a higher state match to CPA communities, generating an estimated $36 million more each year to support affordable housing, open space preservation, and outdoor recreation.
At a time when the affordable housing crisis in Massachusetts continues to reach new heights, leaving more families at risk of becoming homeless, CHAPA thanks the Members of Ways and Means Committees for making its commitment to solving this crisis clear through investments in affordable housing, homelessness prevention, and community development programs.
CHAPA thanks Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo, Senate President Karen Spilka, and members of the budget conference committee, including Rep. Aaron Michlewitz, , Sen. Michael Rodrigues, Rep. Denise Garlick, Sen. Cindy Friedman, Rep. Todd Smola, and Sen. Vinny deMacedo for their leadership on this budget. Governor Baker now has ten days to sign, veto, or send the budget back with amendments.
For more information on CHAPA's budget priorities, including a detailed analysis of language changes made to our priorities, please click here.