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March 28, 2005




Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey today unveiled a proposal that will expand access to shelters for homeless families and provide up to $3,000 to help low-income families move into permanent housing.


“Through smarter and more efficient management, we’ve made remarkable progress in helping our homeless population in Massachusetts,” said Healey. “We won’t rest on our laurels, however. Our goal is to help every needy family find a place to call home.”


Under a supplemental spending plan filed by Governor Mitt Romney on Friday, the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) would be allowed to provide shelter to families who currently don’t meet the eligibility threshold of 100 percent of the federal poverty level ($16,090 for a family of three). If there are vacancies in the shelter system, DTA could grant waivers to families whose income does not exceed 130 percent ($20,917).


Over the past year, the Romney Administration has made tremendous strides to improve management of the sheltering system and create permanent housing opportunities for over one thousand families. As a result, there are nearly 100 vacancies in the 95 state shelters on any given night. The move to grant waivers allows additional families to take advantage of the benefits and services the state provides.


“Granting these waivers does not exacerbate the homeless problem in Massachusetts, but allows us to assist more families who are already homeless,” said Department of Transitional Assistance Commissioner John Wagner.


Due to reforms implemented by the agency over the past year, Romney’s spending plan would also take up to $3 million in DTA funds and transfer it to the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) for prevention services. The state’s housing department operates the Rental Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) program, which was forced to shut down due to insufficient funds earlier this year.


The new funding will restore the RAFT program, which helps families cover necessities such as security deposits, first and last month’s rent, moving expenses and utility payments.


“As the largest provider of transitional housing for homeless mothers and children in the state, Crittenton is pleased to partner with the governor and the Department of Transitional Assistance in announcing these initiatives that support family housing and that are in line with our goal of helping homeless families learn how to support themselves and become self-sufficient,” said Dr. Liz Reilinger, president and CEO of Crittenton, who hosted Healey’s announcement.


The One Family, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to ending family homelessness, also supported the measures proposed by the Romney Administration.


“One Family believes that family homelessness is unacceptable and solvable,” said Executive Director Melinda Marble. “These measures show that state government is shifting the system towards solutions.”


Today in Massachusetts, approximately 1,200 families are living in transitional housing or emergency shelters.


Healey added, “As the state’s economy continues to recover, we can help guide more homeless families towards independence.”




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