500 postcards on homelessness bill delivered to State House

7/22/2011

Delegates to the Massachusetts Conference's 212th Annual Meeting last month not only passed a resolution on ending homelessness among youth - they also took immediate action, filling out 500 postcards calling on state legislators to address the issue. On July 19, those postcards were delivered to the chairs of the Joint Conference Committee on the FY12 Budget by representatives of the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless.

The coaltion had been urging the passage of House Bill #1862, "An Act Providing Housing & Support Services for Unaccompanied Youth." In addition to delivering the pocstcards, MACUCC Homeless Task Team Chair the Rev. Dr. Fran Bogle and task team member Sister Linda Bessom also delivered testimony to the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities, which held a public hearing on the bill.  (Read the testimony here.)  

"Although the Joint Conference Committee on the FY’12 State Budget did NOT include in their final version of the budget the Special Commission on Unaccompanied Youth as we requested, the 500 postcards that came from the delegates (from more than 120 different UCC congregations) all across the state, certainly put the Joint Conference Committee on notice that this compelling issue of providing housing and support services to unaccompanied youth and young adults MUST be part of the Commonwealth’s plan to end homelessness," Bogle said.

Bogle said it is likely that the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities will separate out the part of the bill that talks about creating a Special Commission to address the barriers and improve services to youth 18 and under and young adults 19-22, allowing the rest of the bill - which will provide housing and support services - to be signed into law as soon as possible.  To read the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless fact sheet on House Bill #1862, click here

"What a strong case --- calling on the Commonwealth to address the huge numbers of unaccompanied youth and young adults (close to 6000) who are on their own.   By chance, someone just prior to the public hearing, revealed that she was a member of a UCC Church in Marblehead, and how proud she was to learn that the MACUCC had passed this particular resolution!" Bogle said.

Next steps recommend by the Task Team:

  • Write a letter in support of House Bill #1862 to the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilties, through Co-Chairs Representative Kay Khan and Senator Michael Rodrigues. Don’t forget to mention that you are an individual member of the MA Conference United Church of Christ, which just recently passed the Resolution to End Homelessness among Youth and Young Adults at the 2011 Annual Meeting.  You can also mention your congregation and location and why this bill is important to you; and if your church is already doing outreach to unaccompanied homeless youth and young adults. Please email a copy of your letter to Sister Linda Bessom Linda@mahomeless.org, so that the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless can keep it on file.  Here is the address for legislators: State House, Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities, Boston, MA 02133
  • Let your own State Representative and State Senator know of your support of this bill and ask them to contact the co-chairs of the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities and urge them to give a favorable report. You can reach your legislators by calling 617-722-2000. To search for your legislators based on your address, go to www.wheredoivotema.com
  • Contact the Task Team to End Homelessness to:

1. Join our Task Team to help implement the 2011 Resolution to End Homelessness among Youth and Young Adults; or share ideas you have on the implementation of this Resolution (Rev. Fran Bogle, FBOG@aol.com or Sister Linda Bessom SND, Linda@mahomeless.org, 781-595-7570 x 18).

2. Share what your church is already doing in assisting youth and young adults experiencing homelessness in your area.

3. Host a presentation at your church, group, clergy association on this issue of unaccompanied youth and how you can become involved locally in direct service with youth providers and on-going advocacy to move House Bill #1862 forward in getting passed by the state legislature.

4. Receive a packet of materials handed out at Annual Meeting at the hearing for the Resolution on Ending Homelessness among Youth and Young Adults.

5. Consider putting something in your local newspaper about the Resolution to End Homelessness among Youth and Young Adults. The Task Team will help you.

 



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