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Mass. Senate Passes Bill to Support Emergency Shelters

By Tom Marino | March 25, 2024
Last Updated: March 25, 2024

BOSTON – The Massachusetts State Senate passed a supplemental budget bill last week that makes new investments in the state’s emergency shelter system.

The bill, S.2708, also provides funding for workforce training programs for recently arrived migrants and seeks to ensure the shelter system is effective in the long term.

The legislation:

  • Authorizes the Office of Administration and Finance to spend $75 million per month for the remaining few months of Fiscal Year 2024 from the Transitional Escrow Fund to help shelter families and promote self-sufficiency, then decreases the amount that can be sent per month from the ecrow fund starting in 2025;
  • Supports workforce training programs for newly arrived migrant families;
  • Tequires each sheltered family to receive an individualized rehousing plan with eligibility for shelter after nine months contingent on compliance with the plan;
  • Appropriates an additional $10 million in funds for housing intervention services and workforce supports in the emergency shelter program
  • Provides $15 million to fund settlement obligations and judgements.
  • Creates a special committee to study and make recommendations on the sustainability, efficiency and effectiveness of the emergency housing assistance program.

“Nothing Massachusetts can do will make up for Washington, D.C.’s inaction on our broken immigration system, but I believe this supplemental budget bill represents a first step in getting the crisis facing our emergency shelter system under control,” said Senator Michael Moore (D-Millbury).

Moore says that he also secured an amendment that reallocates funds previously allocated to the Worcester Fire Department prior to recent budget cuts, which will allow the fire department to again eaccess those funds.

The bill also has additional provisions to support the Commonwealth’s businesses, students, and residents, including:

  • Allowing a city or town to approve requests for expansion of outdoor restaurant service.
  • Allowing graduates and students in their last semester of nursing education programs to the practice
  • nursing, in accordance with guidance from the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing.
  • Extends the ability of nurses employed by assisted living residences to provide skilled nursing care inaccordance with valid medical orders, provided the nurse holds a valid license to provide such care.
  • Makes technical changes to certain line items from the fiscal year 2024 budget.

A similar bill has already passed in the Massachusetts House. The house and senate must meet in a conference committee to work out the differences in their bills before it can be sent to the governor for signature into law.

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