07 Mar MBHP briefs legislators on state of homelessness in Mass., proposes solutions to affordable housing crisis
The housing nonprofit introduced a white paper entitled, ‘Moving from Rhetoric to Results: Recommendations to Reduce Family Homelessness in Massachusetts’
BOSTON—Today, Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership held a legislative briefing at the State House that informed elected officials on the state of homelessness in Massachusetts, updated the legislators on the progress MBHP has made in its region, and proposed solutions for reducing homelessness.
Rep. Kevin Honan, co-chair of the Joint Housing Committee, welcomed the attendees. He referred to more than 4,000 families currently homeless in Massachusetts as “a serious crisis” affecting all districts. “The cost of housing has gone through the roof, and homelessness is only continuing to grow.”
“Homelessness is primarily caused by poverty. You cannot separate the two,” said MBHP Executive Director Chris Norris. He went on to list child care, transportation and jobs that pay a living wage as necessary elements to any programs aimed at reducing homelessness.
To address the homelessness crisis, MBHP is making a number of requests for consideration during the current budget season, among them increasing funding for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program to $87.5 million, an increase of $30 million.
Norris indicated that, of the 500 MRVP vouchers allocated to MBHP’s region, 96 percent have already been issued by the housing agency.
One of those vouchers was issued to Naromie Occeus, an MRVP participant who had lived in emergency shelter for 27 months before receiving her voucher. Occeus spoke about the impact the program has made in her life. “Receiving this MRVP voucher means so much to my daughter and I. This is a fresh start for the both of us in a place we can now call home.”
Occeus and her daughter moved into their new apartment in February, giving her the opportunity to pursue higher education in the hopes of increasing her income to the point where she can afford market rent. “At that point I would be so proud to be able to return my voucher and possibly give someone the same opportunity to get their lives on track,” said Occeus.
Joining Chairman Honan at the briefing were Reps. Paul Donato; John L. Lawn, Jr.; and Marjorie Decker. The briefing was cohosted by Chairman Honan and Reps. Lawn and Decker, along with Reps. Gloria Fox; Russell E. Holmes; John L. Lawn, Jr.; Marjorie Decker; David M. Rogers; and Jay Livingstone; and Sens. Patricia D. Jehlen, and Linda Dorcena Forry.