For Immediate Release - January 20, 2011

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR MURRAY ANNOUNCES EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE REFORM IN FY'12 BUDGET

Reforms continue Patrick-Murray Administration's efforts to end homelessness; build on successes of Housing First Framework

BOSTON - Thursday, January 20, 2011 - Continuing the Patrick-Murray Administration's efforts toward ending homelessness in the Commonwealth, Lieutenant Governor Timothy P. Murray today announced the Administration's FY'12 budget proposal to reform the emergency shelter and housing delivery systems.

Following a tour of service programs at the Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership (MBHP), Lieutenant Governor Murray outlined changes that will build on the successes of the Administration's Housing First Framework, an initiative that provides emergency shelter to vulnerable families while offering a variety of resources to stabilize and enhance economic opportunities for at-risk individuals, reducing the need for shelter.

"We are focused now more than ever on strategic initiatives to end homelessness by connecting families to permanent housing," said Governor Deval Patrick. "These challenging times continue to increase the needs of families in the Commonwealth for safety net services, and we have a moral obligation and responsibility to improve our housing systems so that families who are struggling can stabilize and provide a safe home."

"The goal of ending homelessness is clearly within our reach, and this budget reform will ensure we are targeting the right resources at the right time to assist people in need as they steady themselves and provide for their families," said Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray. "Our previous reforms have already helped to move 4,000 families out of shelter, and this proposal presents an opportunity for us to continue to support vulnerable families at risk of becoming homeless as they transition to stable, permanent, and affordable housing solutions."

In 2008, the legislative Homelessness Commission released a report detailing how to prevent and ultimately end homelessness in Massachusetts. Following recommendations outlined in that report, Lieutenant Governor Murray charged the Interagency Council on Housing and Homelessness (ICHH), and the Executive Offices of Housing and Economic Development and Health and Human Services to collaboratively develop a new response to assist families in home based programs that offer more promising, stable economic opportunities. The ICHH then launched the Regional Networks to End Homelessness, which tested innovative ways to support families and individuals in housing by improving coordination and collaboration among a variety of stakeholders.

These pilot programs helped 4,000 families transition from shelter to housing, and today's announcement marks the next step in the Administration's implementation of the Housing First Framework. By collaborating with state agencies and partnering with service providers, the number of families in the shelter system will decrease while access to more appropriate housing-based supports will increase. With this new model, families who are currently eligible for Emergency Assistance will remain eligible for services; however, by providing the right resources at the right time, this reform aims to open more doors to permanent homes and economic opportunities for families in need.

"MBHP's experience and research have shown that in addition to assistance with their rent, families must also have a support network if they are to transition successfully from shelter to housing," said Christopher T. Norris, Executive Director of the Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership. "MBHP looks forward to working with the Patrick-Murray Administration and our partners in Boston and throughout the region to further our mission of providing flexible affordable housing options and supports to those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness."

"We are taking the logical next step by using a network of non-profits with proven capacity to build out a system of support to stabilize families after they are placed in housing," said Undersecretary of Housing and Community Development Tina Brooks.

The three main components of the Emergency Assistance Reform are:
 

  • Emergency shelter is prioritized for families who can not be immediately diverted to a housing-based program and require an emergency response. For example, this component includes families that are at risk of domestic violence or are homeless due to fire or a natural disaster;
  • Targeted support to young families whose vulnerability is rooted in extreme poverty. This assistance will include a dedicated transitional congregate shelter program to better prepare young families for more permanent housing and independent living;
  • Allocation of housing resources to support, diversion and re-housing efforts that will serve most homeless families with resources more cost effectively and flexibly.

In the coming weeks, the ICHH, the Department of Housing and Community Development and Executive Office of Health and Human Services will begin to promulgate regulations for this new framework, giving the public and key stakeholders an opportunity to help inform the process.

To learn more about the Patrick-Murray Administration's initiative to end homelessness and the Interagency Council on Housing and Homelessness, please visit www.mass.gov/governor/ichh

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