On Monday, the Mass. Department of Housing and Community Development held a public hearing in Springfield to get feedback on new regulations governing how families qualify for emergency shelter—regulations that critics say are unduly restrictive and are leaving vulnerable families without a place to stay. (Click here for an Advocate article on the regulations.)
At Monday’s hearing, DHCD heard from a few dozen people, including people who are homeless, service providers and activist groups. State Rep. Ellen Story (D-Amherst) called the new regulations “disgraceful.” She pointed out that that Massachusetts is the third-wealthiest state in the nation and made a suggestion that few of her colleagues would ever dare raise: increasing the income tax to raise the money to help families in need. In emotional testimony, Candejah Pink, a member of the anti-foreclosure group Springfield No One Leaves/Nadie Se Mude, asked state officials for “compassion,” noting the irony of families being without a place to stay while foreclosures are leaving houses empty across the city. A woman named Dixie, who brought along her young children, said through a translator that they’ve been bouncing from place to place; she’s “gone to look for help and every other door is closed.”
The hearing also include testimony from representatives of housing organizations who spoke in favor of large increases the Legislature made to rental vouchers and other housing-assistance programs. Critics of the new regulations say that they welcome that new funding but that it’s coming on the backs of vulnerable families in need of emergency shelter.
Click here for video of the testimony, recorded by Springfield activist Joe Oliverio.
While the new regulations have already been implemented, they won’t be finalized until after the public-comment period ends, probably in late November. DHCH will hold another hearing tomorrow in Boston.