Amendments will strengthen subsidized housing and reduce homelessness
BOSTON– Senator Jamie Eldridge championed two amendments to the Senate budget that will prevent thousands of families from becoming homeless. With more than 5,000 low-income families scheduled to lose their temporary HomeBASE rental assistance in FY14, Senator Eldridge sponsored amendments that will provide the state with tools to help families transition off of temporary rental assistance to stable, safe, and secure housing.
“I was relieved to see the Senate vote in support of providing additional services and protections for families transitioning off the HomeBASE program. I was honored to work closely with Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA) to continue fighting for greater access to subsidized housing and better services to reduce homelessness,” said Senator Eldridge. “I believe that state government must continue to offset the high cost of housing and provide more feasible options for subsidized housing and the increases in programs like MRVP, RAFT and Housing Education Centers provided in the Senate budget are a positive step in the right direction.”
The HomeBASE program (7004-0108) developed in 2011 provides financial assistance to pay rent, utility bills, security deposits, and other expenses that allow families to stay in their homes, move to new housing, or live with other families. HomeBASE also provides services to help families secure more income, save money, comply with their leases and access health care, childcare, and other basic services. Initially created as a three-year program, the Administration and Legislature changed the program and reduced rental assistance to two years. Families will be unable to pay their rent when their assistance expires. The average monthly income of families receiving HomeBASE rental assistance is $795 per month. Their housing costs an average of $1,173 per month.
“These amendments complement the important shift the Senate budget made to invest in permanent housing and strengthen the safety net for families that cannot sustain their housing,” stated Brenda Clement, Executive Director of Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA). “CHAPA commends Senator Eldridge for his leadership on this important issue.”
The passed amendments will strengthen subsidized housing and reduce homelessness through these provisions:
• Help families on the HomeBASE program access permanent affordable housing;
• Provide families with access to flexible assistance programs that can help stabilize their housing;
• Ensure that, if necessary, families can access emergency shelter;
• Requires the state to provide data on the outcomes of the program.
The House and Senate chambers will meet next in a conference committee to reconcile the differences between both versions to be sent to Governor Patrick before the beginning of the new fiscal year on July 1.