Three Massachusetts Bills you can Support to Help People Experiencing Homelessness

At. St. Francis House, we believe in providing services and resources to anyone who needs them. Making this mission possible means providing refuge, recovery, employment and housing services as well as supporting legislation that will improve the lives of people experiencing homelessness. There are currently a handful of Massachusetts Bills under review that, if passed, would provide significant protections for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. We encourage you to support these bills by contacting your representatives and alerting them that you believe this legislation – and the lives of the people it protects – is important. Find out who your representative is here.

Here is an introduction to these pieces of legislation:

Bill S.2276/H.3515: An Act to Provide Identification to Youth and Adults Experiencing Homelessness

This bill would remove two major barriers that prevent people experiencing homelessness from acquiring a State ID in Massachusetts.

First, the bill would waive any fees that would normally be required to obtain an ID.

Second, the bill would change the address requirement so that a person without a permanent address would still be eligible for a State ID. Rather than submitting a home address, people experiencing homelessness would be allowed to use the address of a homeless shelter or other agency where they receive care.

Obtaining a State ID is an important pre-requisite to applying for jobs, housing, and bank accounts. Removing barriers to acquiring State IDs would open doors to numerous resources that would otherwise be inaccessible for people experiencing homelessness.

Bill S.111/H.202: An Act Improving Emergency Housing Assistance for Children and Families Experiencing Homelessness

Families applying for emergency housing encounter unrealistic wait times, difficulty verifying eligibility, and a 12-month re-entry ban for housing. This bill addresses address those problems.

Bill S.111/H.202 would allow families to self-certify their need for emergency housing, cutting down unnecessary wait times and processing delays. The bill would also prevent people’s applications from being denied simply for needing further verification and prevent applications from being rejected during a state of emergency.

Additionally, the state would appoint an ombudsperson to work with families, guiding them through the process of seeking out emergency housing, and acting as a liaison between them and their program so they never need to navigate this unfamiliar process alone.

Perhaps most importantly, Bill S211/H.202 would lift the 12-month re-entry, allowing families more stability when they seek out emergency housing.

Families who are at risk of homelessness need help quickly and efficiently. Many have urgent needs and cannot wait for processing delays. Bill S211/H.202 would help meet the needs of more vulnerable families and ensure they are well informed and represented while seeking out emergency housing.

Bill S.1445/H.2354: An Act to Increase Access to Disposable Menstrual Products in Prisons, Homeless Shelters, and Public Schools

First introduced in 2019, this bill requires that menstrual products are provided to individuals who visit homeless shelters in a “convenient manner” that “does not stigmatize” anybody who accesses these products. Also called the “I Am” Bill, this piece of legislation would ensure that people who menstruate can be confident that their personal needs will be met in public spaces just as reliably as anyone else’s needs would be met. This bill represents a meaningful step towards equity for people in shelters, schools and prisons who menstruate.

Call or write your representative!

Make a meaningful impact in the lives of people experiencing homelessness and the status of these bills by contacting your state representative and alerting them of your support. If you have a story or a personal reason why you believe these bills are important we encourage you to share your reason for support. Click here to find your representative and how you can contact them.