Advocates for homeless and low-income families urged lawmakers today to boost funding for rental vouchers by $30 million.
The advocacy group Homes for Families is seeking $87.5 million in funding for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program, which currently has a budget of $57.5 million.
There are currently about 7,000 vouchers that have been given to people in need, said Libby Hayes, executive director of the group. An additional $30 million in funding would pay for about another 3,000 vouchers, she said.
Households who receive vouchers pay up to 40 percent of their income toward rent; the voucher covers the rest, Hayes said.
When the rental voucher program launched in the 1990s, it had $120 million in funding, Hayes said. At that time, there were fewer than 900 families in emergency shelters and hotels, she said.
Since then those figures have skyrocketed.
There are currently more than 4,500 families in emergency shelters and hotels statewide, Hayes said. The state has set aside $110 million to pay for emergency shelter and is projected to spend more than $40 million on housing the homeless in motels, she said.
State Representative Kevin Honan, a Democrat from Allston-Brighton, said the state is facing a housing crisis that “is not going away.”
The voucher program “is a critical tool in reducing homelessness and providing safe, affordable, permanent housing in Massachusetts,” said Honan, chairman of the Housing Committee in the House.
“We need permanent affordable housing in Massachusetts, and the [voucher program] is an important part of that,” he said.