For Immediate Release - November 20, 2012

Patrick-Murray Administration to File Final Emergency Assistance Regulations Further Strengthening the Safety Net for Homeless Families

BOSTON – November 20, 2012 – The Patrick-Murray Administration’s Department of Housing and Community Development will file on Friday, Nov. 23, final regulations regarding the Emergency Assistance housing program that will continue to invest in homelessness prevention and permanent housing solutions, while maintaining a strong safety net for those who need immediate housing help.

“These regulations maintain the Patrick-Murray Administration’s new investments in preventing homelessness and seeking permanent housing solutions for families, while also keeping in place one of the best safety nets in the country for families with immediate needs,” said Aaron Gornstein, the Undersecretary of Housing and Community Development. “With the input received from the Legislature and stakeholders, we are taking another step forward in our fight to substantially reduce homelessness in Massachusetts.”

The final regulations will update regulations put in place in September, and include changes that will give more flexibility to families seeking emergency housing. The regulations create new opportunities for families who are in homes that are in poor condition, evicted from their home for no stated reason, are living with other families in crowded homes, or need a health and safety referral by the Department of Children and Families to assess their current housing situation.

The final regulations, which go into effect Dec. 7, take into account testimony received at two public hearings across the state, meetings with members of the Legislature, and various stakeholder and advocacy organizations. The final reform includes seven regulatory and guidance changes as well as eight administrative changes. Also included in the final regulations are the 16 previous changes made during the legislative comment period.

“I am committed to working with Governor Patrick and the Administration to ensure the reforms are working effectively and fairly”, said Senator James. T. Welch (West Springfield). “We need to ensure that families receive the services they need, and that we are answering the calls from all sides to end hotel stays and other half-measures with real solutions that build stronger families and communities.” 

“The Administration has taken steps to promote housing solutions to address homelessness across the state,” said Karen Frederick, Executive Director of Community Teamwork Inc. “Families come to CTI looking for housing and for too many years all the system has offered is a shelter response. We look forward to continuing to work with the Department of Housing and Community Development and providers in efforts to prevent homelessness and ensure strong systems are in place for those families who need help.”

“These regulations represent efforts to ensure that families are not on the street while we work together to create more affordable housing for low-income families in Massachusetts,” said Peter Gagliardi, Executive Director of HAP Housing. “We appreciate the opportunity to work together with the Administration and the advocate community to find solutions to address homelessness in the Commonwealth.”

Along with reforming the Emergency Assistance program, Governor Patrick and the Legislature have increased funding for homelessness prevention and permanent housing programs, including increasing funding for the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition program from $276,000 to $8.7 million, which provides up to $4,000 in assistance to prevent a family from becoming homeless. The Governor and the Legislature also secured $6 million in additional funds for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program, which will provide rental assistance to over 500 families, and boosted capital funds to construct and preserve more affordable housing.

The regulations, originally negotiated by the Legislature and the Administration, provide emergency shelter to families who meet the Emergency Assistance income limits, are Massachusetts residents and who are either victims of fire, flood and natural disaster; fleeing domestic violence; facing eviction through no fault of their own; or currently in a housing situation that exposes children to substantial health and safety risks.