The Massachusetts House and the Senate concluded the FY2021 budget debate this week while maintaining increased funding for many of CHAPA's affordable housing, emergency assistance, and homelessness prevention priorities.
CHAPA thanks House Speaker DeLeo, Senate President Spilka, Chairman Michlewitz, Chairman Rodrigues, Rep. Honan, Sen. Crighton and members of Ways and Means Committee for their leadership on affordable housing priorities. Thanks also to the the members of House of Representative and Senate for their support for these critical priorities.
The House and Senate versions of the budget now head to a conference committee where differences will be reconciled between the two budgets. The Legislature plans to present the final budget to the Governor by the end of November.
Below is an overview of CHAPA priorities in the House and Senate versions. We are finalizing our letter with recommendations to the conference committee and will post that when it is finished.
Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP) (7004-9024)
Both the House and Senate allocated close to $135 million for MRVP. This includes $9.4 million unspent funds from FY2020.
Alternative Housing Voucher Program (AHVP) (7004-9030)
The House allocated $8.1 million while the Senate allocated $12.5 million for AHVP. Both versions include rollover of $1.9 million unspent funds in the total appropriations. CHAPA is advocating for adoption of the Senate appropriation.
Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) (7004-9316)
Both the House and Senate version allocate $54.7 million for RAFT, including $4.7 million from the Housing Preservation and Stabilization Fund. The Senate version includes language directly the Department of Housing and Community Development to use simple applications to help quickly process and distribute RAFT resources to households impacted by COVID-19.
Housing Consumer Education Centers (HCECs) (7004-3036)
The House appropriated $4 million while the Senate appropriated $4.75 million. CHAPA is advocating for adoption of the Senate appropriation.
HCECs are the frontline agencies for delivering housing resources for critical programs like as RAFT, Local Emergency Rental Assistance Programs, ERMA and HomeBASE. The higher appropriation will provide HCECs with much needed funding to hire more staff and reduce the processing time for RAFT applications to get households the timely assistance they need.
The House appropriated $27 million while the Senate appropriated $29 million. CHAPA is advocating for adoption of the Senate appropriation.
Public Housing Operating Subsidy (7004-9005)
The Public Housing Operating Subsidy received a significant increase in the House with $80 million allocation. The Senate allocated $75 million. CHAPA is advocating for adoption of the House appropriation to provide more resources for chronically underfunded housing authorities that have also faced increased costs this year related to protecting residents from COVID-19.
Foreclosure Prevention & Housing Counseling (7006-0011)
The House appropriated $2.85 million while the Senate appropriated $2.3 million. CHAPA is advocating for adoption of the House appropriation of $2.85 million. The additional funding can support much needed foreclosure prevention tools, such as direct advocacy and counseling as the housing crisis unfolds during the pandemic.
Tenancy Preservation Program (TPP) (7004-3045)
The House appropriated $1.5 million while the Senate appropriated $1.3 million. CHAPA is advocating for adoption of the House appropriation.
TPP is a homelessness prevention program that works with households with disabilities facing eviction because of behavior related to that disability. In consultation with the Housing Court, TPP works with landlords and tenants to determine if the disability can be reasonably accommodated and the tenancy preserved. Ensuring adequate funding for this program is critical to prevent evictions as the state and federal moratorium on evictions end.
Home and Healthy for Good (7004-0104)
Both House and Senate allocated $3.39 million for this line item.
Home and Healthy for Good provides housing and supportive services to chronically homeless individuals through a housing first model that is less costly and more effective than managing residents’ homelessness and health problems on the street or in shelter.