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Massachusetts senator says shelter funds running out this month

Senate Ways and Mean Chairman Michael Rodrigues spoke during a private school advocacy day event on Thursday, April 11, 2024.
Alison Kuznitz
Senate Ways and Mean Chairman Michael Rodrigues spoke during a private school advocacy day event on Thursday, April 11, 2024.

Money for the state's emergency family shelter system could run out sometime between Monday and the end of April, according to a top senator, who is part of a six-person group of lawmakers trying to come up with funding solutions.

A supplemental spending package could ship hundreds of millions of dollars to shore up the shelter system, but House and Senate Democrats disagree about how much the state should rely on a savings account as part of the solution.

Senate Ways and Means Chairman Michael Rodrigues, asked whether the existing funds could be exhausted by April's midpoint on Monday, said the administration has told him it would happen sometime this month.

Healey's office previously said the money would run out in early spring, and has declined to be more specific.

"We're hearing sometime mid- to end of April, but there are other flexible funds that they can use," Rodrigues, referring to the Healey administration, told the News Service Thursday.

Rodrigues could not explain what those flexible funding streams entail.

"We're all concerned, and we want to get it done as quickly as possible," Rodrigues said.

An Executive Office for Administration and Finance spokesman couldn't provide a date for when shelter money could run out.

"As the administration has previously stated, direct funding for emergency assistance shelters will be exhausted early this spring," A&F spokesperson Matt Murphy said in a statement Thursday. "We are both grateful to the Legislature for the work they have done so far to advance our supplemental funding request and hopeful that legislation can be finalized quickly for our review to address this time sensitive need."

House Ways and Means Chairman Aaron Michlewitz indicated Wednesday he was not aware of a specific date for when existing shelter money could run out, after he was asked about the situation happening on Monday.

The House on Wednesday unveiled plans to fund emergency shelters at $500 million in fiscal 2025, including using $175 million from the Transitional Escrow Fund, the same account at the center of supplemental budget talks. Rodrigues said the House proposal does not pose a conflict with the Senate's goal of making the full $860 million account available for shelter spending.

"We are all trying to think outside the box to be as creative as possible, and the Senate's goal is ensuring a glide path through sustainability," Rodrigues said. "And there's not one way to do it. There are multiple ways to do it, and we are just thinking our way through this and trying to be as thoughtful as possible."

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