What We're Advocating For
To disrupt poverty and create economic mobility for families – including future generations – we need to push for public policy measures that eliminate barriers to success and address the structural racism built into our systems. Our policy agenda is designed to support wide-sweeping changes that will result in more equitable access to quality affordable child care, housing, higher education, and training programs from birth through adult. Our advocacy also seeks to ensure that families in most dire need get the critical support to provide basic necessities to their families.
Our efforts are informed by the families we work with in our programs and the staff who partner with them every day. Before each new legislative session, EMPath surveys our participants and mentors about the issues most important to them. These responses are used to inform our policy priorities and decide what advocacy efforts to support.
Massachusetts operates on a two-year legislative session. The current session runs from January 2, 2021 - December 31, 2022.
Our priority bills are selected based on input from families and staff. EMPath plays a leadership role in the coalitions that are moving these bills forward.
Cash Assistance Increase
An act to lift kids out of deep poverty (H.199/S.96)
Sponsors: Rep. Decker, Sen. DiDomenico
Raises the Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC) grant by 20% with the goal of reaching 50% of the Federal Poverty Level in order to lift families out of deep poverty. Grants have only been raised by 10% in the past 20 years and are currently not tied to inflation. Led by the Lift Our Kids Coalition. (The corresponding budget effort is also one of our FY23 budget priorities.)
Universal Child Care
An act providing affordable and accessible high quality early education and care to promote child development and well-being and support the economy in the Commonwealth (H.605/S.362)
Sponsors: Rep. Gordon, Rep. Madaro, Sen. Lewis, Sen. Moran
Establishes a system of affordable, high-quality early education and care for all children from birth through age 5 as well as after- and out-of-school time for children ages 5-12, and for children with special needs through age 15. Promoting racial equity requires investing in access to affordable, high-quality child care for all. Even before the pandemic, Black and multiracial parents experienced early education and child care-related job disruptions at nearly twice the rate of white parents. Led by the Common Start Coalition.
Secondary bills are those where EMPath contributes to the efforts of other organizations or advocacy coalitions.
An act to streamline access to critical public health and safety-net programs through a common application (H.1290/S.761)
Streamlines and improves the application process for safety-net programs by creating a common application
An act to prevent COVID-19 evictions and foreclosures and promote an equitable housing recovery (H.1434/S.891)
Seeks to prevent evictions and ensure equitable distribution of housing resources during the pandemic and recovery
An act to guarantee debt-free higher education (H.1339/S.829)
Ensures Massachusetts public college and university students can leave college without student loan debt
An act providing for climate change adaptation infrastructure and affordable housing investments in the Commonwealth (H.2890/S.1853)
Doubles the deeds excise tax on home purchases and dedicates the estimated $300 million in annual revenue towards affordable housing and climate sustainability
FY23 Budget Priorities
Access to Safe, Affordable Housing
$200 million for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP) (7004-9024)
This would maintain the 9,000-plus vouchers in use and increase the number of vouchers available to provide families with the stability they need. We also call for making vouchers more affordable by decreasing the tenant share of rent to 30% of income. (We also support the corresponding bill to codify the program and make improvements.)
Housing Stability and Eviction Prevention
$250 million for the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) program (7004-9316)
This will ensure people have support with back rent and utility payments, first and last month’s rent, security deposits, and transportation to avoid evictions and maintain housing. We support targeting eviction prevention dollars towards communities most impacted, particularly BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) communities. We call for the the inclusion of language to increase the benefit cap to $10,000/household to meet current needs. (We also support the corresponding bill to codify the program and make improvements.)
Cash for Basic Needs
Raise cash grants by 20% in the Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC) program (4403-2000)
This maintains recent TAFDC grant increases and raises grants by 20% with the goal of lifting families out of deep poverty (grants above 50% of the Federal Poverty Level). Grants have only been raised by around 19% in the past 20 years and are not tied to inflation. The corresponding legislative effort is also one of our policy priorities.
Access to Stable Jobs
$5 million for the Secure Jobs Initiative (4400-1020)
This would help families experiencing homelessness access stable jobs in order to move closer to economic stability by bridging the critical gap between housing and workforce development services.
Job Training for Economic Stability
$17 million for the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund (WCTF), including the Learn to Earn (LTE) initiative
These are initiatives training opportunities for parents who are low-income for jobs leading to economic stability and continue to address the cliff effect parents experience as their wages rise. The LTE pilots launching in 2021 will focus on serving BIPOC families currently getting public assistance.