Massachusetts: Baker-Polito Administration Files $139 Million Supplemental Budget to Address Emergency Temporary Shelter Needs

BOSTON — Governor Charlie Baker today filed a $139 million Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) supplemental budget to support the Commonwealth's response to substantially increased demand on the emergency assistance shelter system. The targeted funding and policy changes in this bill will provide resources to expand emergency shelter capacity to address an uptick in need for these services, which is driven in part by a recent increase in migrant entries to Massachusetts, due to federal immigration policy.

"Massachusetts' emergency shelter system provides support for thousands of families each year, but a recent uptick in new migrant arrivals, coupled with a strained housing market have led to a need for greater capacity across the system," said Governor Charlie Baker. "These expanded resources will help us quickly and effectively address this humanitarian crisis, especially as we enter the winter months. We look forward to working with our partners in the Legislature, the nonprofit community and local government as we all address this unprecedented challenge, which is unfortunately driven by the federal government's inability to address our country's immigration challenges."

"This legislation is a comprehensive response to the shelter capacity challenges we are facing across the Commonwealth," said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. "The bill includes important provisions such as funding for school districts that will see an increase in enrollment as we expand the shelter system statewide to meet our statutory and moral obligations to provide shelter for families in crisis."

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Building on $20 million provided in the recently signed economic development bill to support the needs of immigrants and refugees, this bill proposes a $130 million reserve to meet immediate needs across the multiple agencies that play a role in responding to the needs of families in need of emergency shelter placement.

The reserve includes $73 million to expand the overall capacity of the shelter system, which will fund the provisioning of more than 1,300 additional temporary shelter units and shelter provider rate increases to support recruitment and retention. It also includes $20 million to establish and maintain a temporary central intake center, where families during their first few days in shelter can receive timely case management services and various intake assessments. The remaining $37 million will support the costs associated with placing new students in local schools through the end of FY24.

"This supplemental spending proposal will provide the state with resources urgently needed to respond to increasing demand in the emergency shelter system," said Administration and Finance Secretary Michael J. Heffernan. "The Commonwealth has sufficient revenues to finance these appropriations and measures in Fiscal Year 2023, and we hope to see this legislation quickly acted upon to ensure we are able to continue providing critical services and shelter to all families in need in Massachusetts."

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"These much-needed additional resources and policy changes will support the ongoing efforts of our team at the Department of Housing and Community Development and contracted service providers to meet the increasing demand for safe shelter that we are experiencing in Massachusetts," said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy. "As a right-to-shelter state, we have a statutory and moral obligation to create adequate family shelter capacity for new arrivals and families experiencing homelessness. This legislation will give the Commonwealth the necessary tools to effectively address this humanitarian crisis."

The bill also includes several policy changes that will enable the state to more quickly and efficiently respond to increased need for emergency temporary shelter. It also includes a section that allows the Commonwealth, in consultation with local school districts and subject to appropriation, to enroll students from state-placed families to nearby districts to help local communities better manage the impact of an increase in student enrollment.

The bill also re-files a request for $9.2 million for the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) to implement the Work and Family Mobility Act (WFMA), which will enable the RMV to begin hiring now to ensure it has the staffing needed to meet the increased demand for services and enable the RMV to efficiently and securely develop new processes and transaction types required by the legislation.

To read the Governor's filing letter, click here.

Filed Under: Government, State

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