Senate Concludes Debate on FY2023 budget
The Senate concluded FY2023 budget debate on May 26th. CHAPA's priority amendments on MRVP, HomeBASE and CPA were adopted, with increased funding over the House allocations for many of CHAPA’s affordable housing priorities, including the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program and RAFT. The House and Senate will reconcile the differences through a Conference Committee soon.
Please refer to CHAPA Budget Priority chart for funding amounts for affordable housing. Below is the summary of some critical programs:
- Mass. Rental Voucher Program (MRVP) - The Senate funds MRVP at $154 million (compared to $150 million by the House) along with language to:
- Move MRVP to a payment standard aligned with Section 8 up to 110% FMR
- Caps tenant rent payment to 30% in first year of occupancy starting from January 1st, 2023
- Sen. Keenan's amendment which was adopted in the Senate budget debate established for utilities to be included as a part of tenant rent payment
- Carries forward $21.9 million in unspent funds from FY22 bringing the MRVP total allocation at ~$175 million
Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) - The Senate funds RAFT at $150 million (House funds at $140 million). This is critical given that the federal funding for rental assistance has almost ended. The increased allocation is in addition to the $100 million allocated for RAFT through the FY2022 Supplemental budget.
Alternative Housing Voucher Program (AHVP) - The Senate allocated $13.6 million along with language to carry forward $5.6 million in unspent funds from FY22 bringing the AHVP total allocation to $19.2 million, same as the House.
Public Housing - The Senate proposes increased funding for Public Housing Operating line item at $92 million, same as the House.
HomeBASE - The Senate allocates $56.9 million for HomeBASE (House allocated $59.4 million) with automatic renewal of benefits up to 2 years.
CHAPA thanks the Senate President, Karen Spilka, Chairman of Senate Ways & Means (SWM) Committee, Michael Rodrigues, Members of the SWM Committee, Chairman of Housing Committee, John F. Keenan, and all the Senators for championing and supporting the affordable housing priorities
Below are the detailed outcomes of CHAPA's Priority amendments:
#298 - Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP) (7004-9024) - Redraft Adopted
Sponsored by Sen. Keenan
Sen. Keenan’s amendment makes improvements to MRVP by making it easier to use and aligning it further with the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program. The following improvements will help make MRVP more effective and ensure maximum utilization of the allocated funds:
• Allows voucher payment standards to exceed 110% of the Fair Market Rent (FMR) in certain circumstances as a reasonable accommodation or to help find housing in strong markets (not adopted)
• Allows the voucher to cover utility payments (adopted)
#253 - Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) (7004-9316) - Not Adopted
Sponsored by Sen. Keenan
Sen. Keenan’s amendment expands access to RAFT while improving benefits for households. The amendment proposes to:
• Increase income eligibility for RAFT to households up to 60% of the Area Median Income (AMI) from the current 50% AMI threshold
• Reduce documentation requirements for receiving utility-related benefits and
• Allow 4 months of forward rent payments & stipends for eligible households.
#297 - Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) (7004-9316) - Not Adopted
Sponsored by Sen. Keenan
Sen. Keenan’s amendment establishes a pilot program same as the federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) under RAFT. Specifically, the amendment:
• Increases RAFT allocation to $160 million from $150 million
• Establishes a rental assistance pilot program similar to ERAP
• The pilot program allows eligibility for up to 80% AMI; 12 months of rent and forward payments with direct payments to tenants in certain cases.
#206 - HomeBASE (7004-0108) - Redraft Adopted
Sponsored by Sen. Jehlen
Sen. Jehlen’s amendment makes the following program improvements to HomeBASE ensuring housing stability for households:
• Increases HomeBASE benefit to $15,000 for every 12 month period (not adopted)
• Allows benefit of $30,000 for up to 24 months (not adopted)
• Removes income increases as terms for ineligibility (adopted)
#263 - Home and Healthy For Good (7004-0104) - Not Adopted
Sponsored by Sen. Feeney
Sen. Feeney’s amendment increases funding for the program to $6.39 million for housing and supportive services for 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 a shelter.
#834 – Community Preservation Trust Fund (Outside Section) - Adopted
Sponsored by Sen. Comerford
Sen. Comerford’s amendment allocates $20 million from any state surplus revenue to the Community Preservation Trust Fund.