By Bob Katzen
The Senate 3-36, rejected an amendment that would amend the state’s Right to Shelter Law which requires the state to provide shelter and other necessities to homeless parents with young children, pregnant women and recently the many migrant families arriving in the Bay State. Homeless individuals are not covered by the Right to Shelter law.
The amendment would require that people provide proof that they have lived in the state for at least one year to qualify for the program. It also exempts from the requirement a victim of domestic violence or a person whose living situation has been affected by a fire or other natural disaster that occurred in Massachusetts.
Amendment supporters said the current interpretation of residency in Massachusetts by the Healey administration is that the person can be in the state for a matter of minutes to qualify to get services.
“During today’s Senate session I proposed an amendment that would restore the residency requirement for the emergency shelter program here in Massachusetts,” said amendment sponsor Sen. Ryan Fattman. “Unfortunately, the amendment was not adopted in the Senate. If we continue on this path and do not modify the state’s Right-to-Shelter Law, it will cost taxpayers $1.2 billion this year alone with no end in sight, placing substantial stress on other social safety net programs intended for Massachusetts residents.”
“While apparently intended to address the migrant issue, the amendment, in my view, called for broader changes to a program that has been in place helping people for decades,” said opponent Sen. John Keenan (D-Quincy). “Such changes to a statute I believe need greater review than what the amendment process provided. Further, an amendment filed by Sen. Velis, which was adopted unanimously, provides an opportunity for that review.”
(A “Yes” vote is for the 1-year requirement. A “No” vote is against it.)
Sen. Patricia Jehlen No