Budget includes amendment filed by Sen. Keenan improving housing assistance programs

For Immediate Release: 4-5-22 

Contact: Peter Jasinski | peter.jasinski@masenate.gov 

BOSTON – Governor Charlie Baker signed into law a $1.67 billion midyear spending plan approved by the Legislature that will increase funding for human services and infrastructure improvements, and includes provisions championed by Sen. John F. Keenan that will assist individuals living in rental properties.  

“While the pandemic did not create the Commonwealth’s housing crisis, the living situations of so many Massachusetts residents were further strained by COVID-19. These funds will bring stability to so many recovering from the pandemic and should make housing more accessible to all,” said Sen. John F. Keenan.  

In total, the Fiscal Year 2022 spending bill allocates $700 million for COVID-19 response costs, $401 million for rate enhancements to human services providers, $100 million to winter road repair, and $100 million to maintain access to rental assistance funds through the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) program.  

Sen. Keenan filed an amendment to the budget to expand the state’s data collection efforts regarding applicants to rental and housing assistance programs. Based on Sen. Keenan’s suggestion, the state’s data collection will now include demographic, income, and geographic data of applicants to connect Commonwealth resources more efficiently with those in need of housing support. 

“So many of our friends, family members, and neighbors rely on these housing supports, but we can do more to assist them. By having a more comprehensive understanding of who needs help, we can do a better of job of directing money to where it can have the biggest impact,” said Sen. Keenan.  

In addition to his data collection amendment, Sen. Keenan also advocated for increasing state funding to rental assistance programs, particularly RAFT. Sen. Keenan sponsored three RAFT-specific budget amendments, including increasing the program’s total funding by $100 million and restoring the limit of funds an applicant can receive from $7,000 to $10,000. The Senate agreed to adopt raising the cap to $10,000, but this amendment was excluded from the final version of the approved bill. 

Additionally, the spending bill allocates additional supports for Ukranian refugee resettlement efforts and mandates the divestment of public pension funds from Russia-involved companies. 

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