(BOSTON) – State Representative Joan Meschino (D-Hull) and State Senator Brendan Crighton (D-Lynn) recently hosted a State House briefing to discuss homelessness prevention efforts and their bill An Act to create and implement a Massachusetts flexible supportive housing subsidy pool program (H.1354), which would establish a nimble pot of funds to help support the creation of housing programs that will assist people experiencing homelessness who are facing medical challenges and disabilities.
During last Thursday’s briefing, Representative Meschino and Senator Crighton introduced the bill and discussed its implications for over 4,000 displaced residents in the Commonwealth. Speakers at the event included Paralita Arteh and Joyce Tavon of the Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance (MHSA), Eric Shupin from the Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA), and Christi Staples of United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley.
“This bill affirms the need to streamline our methods to fund housing and services for addressing and ending homelessness in the Commonwealth,” said State Representative Joan Meschino (D-Hull). “Thank you to United Way of Massachusetts Bay, Massachusetts Housing & Shelter Alliance, CHAPA and all those in attendance who are committed to solving homelessness for our most vulnerable neighbors in a supportive and trauma-informed way.”
“Creating a supportive housing flexible funding pool will allow us to quickly and most effectively serve our most vulnerable residents in the Commonwealth, said Senator Brendan Crighton (D-Lynn). “By taking a more coordinated approach, we can truly meet people where they are and provide the types of stable housing opportunities they need, while reducing the strain on our emergency services.”
Representative Meschino’s supportive housing bill coincides with her and State Representative Jim Hawkins’ recent launch of the Caucus to End and Prevent Homelessness, a bipartisan coalition of Massachusetts legislators from across the Commonwealth who will engage to learn and inform others about best practices for reducing and ending homelessness, based on evidence and lived experience. Future caucus sessions will cover permanent supportive housing resources, the Commonwealth’s emergency and crisis response system, the impact of trauma as it relates to housing insecurity and homelessness, and the current state of data related to homelessness in Massachusetts. United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley also serves as a facilitator and thought partner when the caucus convenes.
“There is a human cost and economic cost when complex, fragmented systems prevent people from accessing the housing and resources they need to stabilize, heal, and thrive,” said Christi Staples, United Way Vice President of Policy and Intergovernmental Relations. “This legislation is focused on interrupting the cycle of housing instability and championing the effective use of public and private resources. We are grateful to Senator Crighton and Representative Meschino for their leadership to ensure everyone has a safe and stable place to live.”
“We’ve got work to do, so we must stay hungry and we must stay committed to our mission of eradicating homelessness throughout Massachusetts by executing this bill for more permanent supportive housing,” said Paralita Arteh of MHSA. “Do the right thing, make a difference and do it now!”
“Permanent supportive housing—that combines affordable rents and supportive services—is a proven way to house people with disabling conditions who have experienced long-term homelessness,” said Joyce Tavon, Senior Director of Policy & Programs at the Massachusetts Housing & Shelter Alliance. “Just one recent example: 1,055 people were housed through Pay for Success and six years later 85% were still housed. It works. It ends homelessness.”
“Massachusetts needs 200,000 new homes by the end of the decade just to keep up with demand,” stated Eric Shupin of CHAPA. “Of those, we need at least 20,000 deeply affordable homes for those with the lowest incomes, including 10,000 homes with supportive services for families, individuals, and youth experiencing chronic or long-term homelessness or for those with complex medical needs. Passing this legislation to create a flexible supportive housing subsidy pool will help us reach our goal by allowing supportive homes to be built more quickly and efficiently.”
H.1354 has been assigned to the Joint Committee on Housing and awaits a hearing date. To find information on the current status of Representative Meschino’s legislative agenda or to track specific bills and their progress through the Legislature, please visit https://malegislature.gov/ and make an account at the top right corner of the webpage.
The Caucus to End and Prevent Homelessness convenes quarterly and will continue to meet to tackle issues related to the housing crisis.