[Hpn] MA Coalition for the Homeless Bill Priorities 2003-04 (from L. Bridges)

W.C.Tinker wtinker@metrocast.net
Sat, 28 Dec 2002 10:30:19 -0500

From: Djabr@aol.com

Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless
Bill Priorities for 2003-2004 Legislative Session

The Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless is sponsoring/ supporting the
following bills during the new legislative session:

1)  "An Act to Reduce Homelessness and Promote Housing Stability for Low-
Income Families with Children"
Cost: TBD
House Lead: Representative Marie St. Fleur
Senator Lead:  Senator Susan Tucker

This bill establishes a housing retention program to help low income
families stabilize their housing situation through a combination of back
rent payments and housing stabilization services.  This housing retention
program includes: an assessment of a family's ability to retain their
housing if they receive a cash benefit for back rent and housing
stabilization supports, cash benefit defined in the previous EA rental
arrearage program and linkage to existing community based programs for
housing stabilization supports.  For families not assessed as being able to
retain their housing with payment of the benefit and stabilization supports
the benefit will not be provided.   Last year, the state eliminated the last
homeless prevention program for families with children.  As a result, the
number of families in shelter has increased by almost 20% since the spring
of 2002 when the EA rental arrearage program was eliminated. Over 1500
families a night are currently being sheltered by the state with over 500
families placed in motels because of overflowing shelter space.   Because of
the dramatic increases DTA is projecting a deficit in the family shelter

2)  "An Act to Prevent Homelessness among Elderly and Disabled Persons and
Families Facing No-Fault Evictions"
Cost:  No Cost
House Lead:  Representative Martin Walsh
Senate Lead:  Senator Steven Panagiotakos

This bill prioritizes elderly and disabled individuals and families for
state housing resources if they have received a stay of execution of a No
Fault eviction from a judge. This homeless prevention initiative was
contained in the Omnibus Housing Package passed by the House and Senate this
year.  Unfortunately, the Governor's veto of the entire housing package
killed this initiative. This issue most often affects elderly persons who
are suddenly asked to leave their apartment after the sale of their building
due to the death or retirement of an elderly landlord.  Such tenants will
typically apply for public and subsidized housing.  Although eligible for
help, most of these tenants cannot secure this housing before they must
leave their apartment.  This bill prioritizes for state public housing
resources those tenants facing a no-fault eviction who have received a "stay
of execution" from a court.  A stay of execution means that a judge, at the
judge's discretion, is granting the tenant a period of time to secure new
housing (up to one year for an elder or disabled person or six months for
others).  This bill would shorten the waiting period for state public
housing for these tenants; improving the odds of the tenant securing new
housing before their eviction date.

3)  "An Act Restoring the MassHealth Basic Program"
Cost: TBD
House Lead: Representative Barbara Blumer
Senate Lead:  Senator Mark Montigny

This bill restores the MassHealth Basic program which is slated to be
eliminated April 1, 2003 under the FY'03 budget.  MassHealth basic provides
basic health care services to long term unemployed and homeless people.
50,000 people will lose their health care benefits if these FY'03 program
cuts stand.

4) "A Bill to Study the Feasibility of Establishing a Statewide Application
and Waiting List for State Public Housing Resources" (aka One Stop Shopping
Bill)  Cost:  No cost
House Lead:  Representative Barry Finegold

This bill would direct the Department of Housing and Community Development
to study the feasibility of developing a statewide application system and
waiting list for all state public housing resources that would permit
application in multiple housing authorities through the submission of a
single application form, while allowing each authority to continue to make
its own eligibility and preference determinations.  The bill is based on
language included in the Omnibus Housing Package passed by both the House
and Senate this past year.  It requires that the department conduct this
study in coordination with local and regional housing authorities, the
Citizens Housing and Planning Association and the Massachusetts Coalition
for the Homeless.  It also requires DHCD to file a report of its findings
and recommendations with the house and senate committees on ways and mean
and the joint committee on the housing and urban development within 12
months of the bills passage.

5)  "An Act Concerning Storage of Personal Property upon Execution of a
Summary Process Judgment"
Cost:  No cost
House Lead:  Representative Chris Fallon
Senate Lead: Senator Jarrett Barrios

This bill would fill the gaping holes in the regulation of the handful of
eviction storage companies. The bill creates a few simple protections for
consumers of these services including: notice requirements, inventory
requirements, right of access, and liability for loss or damage. The bill
addresses decades-old problems in the regulation of eviction storage
companies such as companies charging exorbitant fees that change from month
to month and customer to customer; companies refusing to provide the name
and address of their businesses to tenants who are trying to locate their
seized belongings; and companies refusing to issue inventories of the items
they are storing, then deny liability for any loss or damage discovered when
the property is reclaimed.

6)  "An Act to Remediate Homelessness in the Commonwealth"
Cost:  No appropriation needed.  Funded through bond $35 million bond
House Lead: Representative Marie St. Fleur

Mayor Menino is spearheading this response to the most urgent needs of
Massachusetts' homeless.  This is a statewide initiative.  The legislation
authorizes $35 million in bonds to pay for shelters, emergency services and
homeless prevention.  This bill provides $25 million for family and
individual shelters; provides $5 million for a "Boston Homeless Response
Initiative"; creates a State Emergency Housing and Assistance fund; requires
that 10% of large rental developments be reserved for homeless people;
establishes two studies to explore the possibility of a single
application/point of entry for public housing and emergency shelter; creates
a state Interagency Task Force on Homelessness; requires that the state
reimburse cities and town for 100% of the costs for transporting homeless
children to their original school; creates a 1% surcharge on building
permits to fund homeless programming; limits shelter placements for homeless
families with school-age children to within 10 miles from their home
community; and establishes a procedure to link those facing eviction with

Contact Leslie Lawrence at 617-423-9162 x105 for more information.