I received the following message from the Mass Coalition for the Homeless last night. PLEASE take action TODAY-- and don't forget the little car program from my previous post.
In the face of the ever-worsening economic crisis, the Senate Ways and Means (SWM) budget includes $26.7 billion in spending recommendations for FY'10, which will begin on July 1st. (As a comparison, the state anticipates it will spend $29.1 billion during this current fiscal year.)
The SWM Committee has proposed devastating cuts to many of the key homelessness, housing, and safety net program line items. The budget would:
-- Reduce funding for the Emergency Assistance family shelter program (FY'10 line item 7004-0101; current line item 4403-2120) from the FY'09 spending level of $113.4 million to $82.6 million for FY'10. (This is $11.2 million less than the House's budget proposal for FY'10.) The Senate Ways and Means Committee has recommended the elimination of eligibility for families with incomes between 100%-130% of the federal poverty guidelines. (For a family of three, income eligibility would be reduced from $23,803/year to $18,310/year.) Based on data from the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA), there were 158 families with children in shelter in March 2009 who had incomes between 100%-130% of the federal poverty guidelines. If those numbers are representative of a typical month, the change sought by the Senate Ways and Means Committee could lead to more than 300 children each month being left without the basic safety net of shelter! The SWM budget also lacks critical line item language included in the final House budget that would require the Department of Housing and Community Development to apply the regulations used by DTA at the time of the program's transfer on July 1st, and additional provisions that would protect families. Senate Ways and Means Committee Budget Recommendations for Homelessness Prevention, Shelter, Housing, and Benefits Programs To learn more about the Coalition's FY'10 budget work, please go to the Coalition's FY'10 Priorities For more information, please contact Leslie Lawrence
-- Cut $10 million from the Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled and Children Program (line item 4408-1000), a program that provides cash assistance to extremely low-income elders and persons with disabilities. This could lead to a dramatic benefit reduction for program participants, who currently receive only $304/month!
Senate members only have until this Friday, May 15th at noon to submit floor amendments to this proposed budget. The Senate is scheduled to debate this budget and consider floor amendments starting next Tuesday, May 19th.
The Coalition will be back in touch shortly regarding floor amendments that need your support, as well as other advocacy efforts to protect these vital programs. In the meantime, please continue your outreach to your State Senator to let him/her know that you support increasing state revenues so as to protect key services and resources for families and individuals who are at-risk or experiencing homelessness.
Once again, we are grateful for your tireless advocacy during these difficult financial times!
To access the Senate Ways and Means Committee's complete budget recommendations, please go to Senate Ways and Means' FY'10 Budget Recommendations
Senate Ways and Means Committee Budget Recommendations for Homelessness Prevention, Shelter, Housing, and Benefits Programs
To learn more about the Coalition's FY'10 budget work, please go to the Coalition's FY'10 Priorities
For more information, please contact Leslie Lawrenceor Kelly Turley at the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless, 781-595-7570.