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Citizens' Housing and Planning Association: Call to Action! Contact Your State Representative to Support Affordable Housing, Homelessness Prevention, and Community Development Programs in the FY2018 Budget! - April 11, 2017

Call to Action! Contact Your State Representative to Support Affordable Housing, Homelessness Prevention, and Community Development Programs in the FY2018 Budget! - April 11, 2017

Earlier this week, the House Committee on Ways and Means (HWM) released its state budget recommendations(link is external) for fiscal year 2018 (FY2018). The budget includes strong support for many affordable housing and homelessness prevention programs. Click here for an overview of how CHAPA’s priorities were funded in the HWM budget proposal.

The budget proposal includes $100 million for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP). It also increases funding for the Alternative Housing Voucher Program (AHVP), which provides rental vouchers for persons with disabilities, public housing, and the homelessness prevention resource RAFT. 

As the Massachusetts House of Representatives prepares to debate the budget, legislators are filing amendments in support of CHAPA priorities. As the need for affordable housing and homelessness prevention services grow, these amendments will build on the work of House Ways and Means to make sure everyone in the Commonwealth has a safe, healthy, and affordable place to call home. 
Please call or email your State Representative today to ask her or him to co-sponsor these amendments! Click here(link is external) to find your State Representative's contact information.  You can call or copy and paste the below information into an email to your legislator asking them to sign-on to the amendments.

For more materials on the state budget and CHAPA’s priorities, please click here.

If you have any questions about these amendments, please contact Eric Shupin, CHAPA's Director of Public Policy, at or (617) 742-0820. 

The chance to co-sponsor amendments ends Thursday, April 13th, at 5:00 p.m. so please call or email your Representative now! As always, thank you for your advocacy!

Restore the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP) (7004-9024)
Representative Paul Donato's amendment restores funding for MRVP to $120 million. This will increase the number of vouchers available, help preserve affordable housing developments, and restore the program to its 1990 funding level.

Improve MRVP (7004-9024)
Amendment 382

Representative Mike Connolly's amendment makes the following important improvements to increase the MRVP's effectiveness:
• Makes MRVP more usable by increasing voucher rent caps to current fair market rent standards;
• Gets vouchers out faster by mandating a date for the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) to issue new vouchers;
• Improves program efficiencies by authorizing DHCD to create a voucher management system for MRVP; and
• Allows MRVP appropriations from previous budget years to transfer over to the current budget for the program.

Restore the Alternative Housing Voucher Program (AHVP) (7004-9030)
Amendment 298

Representative Marjorie Decker's amendment restores funding for AHVP to $7.5 million to expand housing opportunities for low-income adults with disabilities.

Improve Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) (7004-9316)
Amendment 90
Representative Marjorie Decker’s amendment increases funding for RAFT to $18.5 million to ensure that it is available year-round to help families facing housing instability. It also makes sure that RAFT continues to serve families, elders, persons with disabilities, and unaccompanied youth.

Improve HomeBASE (7004-0108)
Representative Christine Barber’s amendment provides $35 million for HomeBASE and makes the following program improvements:

  • Allows families to renew their HomeBASE benefits at the end of the first 12-month period, if otherwise facing a return to homelessness;
  • ​Allows families who have been terminated from the program to receive benefits again after 12 months, instead of the current, excessive 24-month bar on receiving further assistance;
  • Removes the $300,000 cap on the program allowing families staying in DV or substance abuse shelters or sober living program to access HomeBASE, if otherwise eligible
  • Re-inserts language allowing forward funding for HomeBASE. 

Expand Access to Foreclosure Counseling (7006-0011)
Representative Adrian Madaro’s amendment allows the Division of Banks to retain $1.8 million from mortgage loan originator license fees in order to support foreclosure and housing counseling across the Commonwealth. The amendment would ensure that at least $1.3 million would be made available for Ch.206 Awards for foreclosure and first time homebuyer counseling.

Expand Housing Court Statewide
Representative Chris Walsh's amendment authorizes the statewide expansion of Housing Court with $1.2 million, ensuring that everyone in the Commonwealth has access to this court that can help households facing eviction.

Expand the Tenancy Preservation Program (TPP) (7004-3045)
Representative Byron Rushing’s amendment provides $500,000 more in funding for TPP. In consultation with the Housing Court, TPP works with households with disabilities facing eviction to determine whether a disability can be reasonably accommodated in order to preserve the tenancy. In FY2015, TPP stabilized 93% of households served. The additional funds for TPP would allow the program to help more persons with disabilities avoid homelessness.

Recapitalize the Brownfields Redevelopment Fund
Representative Chris Walsh’s amendment creates a line-item for the Brownfields Redevelopment Fund and recapitalizes the program with $15 million to help clean up environmentally distressed sites in cities and towns across Massachusetts. The Fund has created over 4,000 homes and supported over 2,700 jobs. Redeveloping these sites revitalizes distressed areas and advances the state’s desire to promote smart, sustainable development.

Fund Fuel Assistance
Amendment 118

Representative Paul Mark's amendment creates a new $7.5 million program for fuel assistance. As the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) allocation faces elimination under the current Administration, nearly 200,000 households would be left vulnerable to running out of fuel assistance long before winter ends. By creating a new fuel assistance program, these households will be able to stay safe and warm during the entire winter.

Fund the Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Reserve Fund (4000-0007)
Representative Jim O'Day's amendment funds the Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Reserve Fund with $4 million. This investment provides expanded funding for unaccompanied homeless youth, promoting housing and support services for these youths and young adults experiencing homelessness.