SECTION 1. This act may be known and cited as the No Place Like Home Initiative.
SECTION 2. Chapter 18 of the General Laws is hereby amended by inserting after section 2A, as appearing in the 2006 Official Edition, the following section:-
Section 2B. (a) The department of transitional assistance shall offer and provide screenings of applicants and recipients for services and benefits provided by the department, including but not limited to food stamps, transitional aid to families with dependent children, and emergency aid to the elderly, disabled and children, to determine whether the applicants and recipients are in a stable housing situation or are at risk of homelessness within the next 12 months. The screenings shall be offered at the time of application for assistance, at the time of a recertification or eligibility review, and before termination of assistance by the department. The screenings shall also be available on a walk-in basis at the offices of the department and the availability shall be publicized in each local department office.
(b) With regard to applicants or recipients of services and benefits from the department of transitional assistance whose incomes are at or below 130 per cent of the federal poverty limit and who are at risk of homelessness within the next 12 months, the department, subject to appropriation into an item to be established for these purposes, shall provide to both eligible families and individuals the types of services and benefits designed to prevent homelessness and create housing stability that are authorized by subdivision (D) of section 2 as in effect on January 1, 2009 and shall coordinate with and make referrals to other available services, benefits, and housing resources to prevent homelessness and create housing stability. With regard to applicants or recipients of services and benefits from the department of transitional assistance whose incomes are above 130 per cent of the federal poverty limit and who are at risk of homelessness within the next 12 months, the department shall coordinate with and make referrals to other available services, benefits, and housing resources to prevent homelessness and create housing stability.
(c) The department shall, at least as frequently as once each calendar quarter, provide to the house and senate committees on ways and means and the joint committee on children, families and persons with disabilities a written report describing the number of applicants and recipients who have participated in the screenings authorized by subsection(a), the number of individuals and families serviced and the types of services and referrals provided pursuant to section (b), and the department’s assessment of the level of need for and effectiveness of the services provided pursuant to this section.
SECTION 3. Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, the department of transitional assistance shall each month deposit into escrow accounts for the benefit of homeless individuals and families receiving assistance under the program of emergency aid to elders, disabled and children, pursuant to chapter 117A of the General Laws, or receiving assistance under the program of transitional aid to families with dependent children, pursuant to chapter 118 of the General Laws, an amount equal to the amount by which the department reduces the grants of said individuals and families due to their lack of shelter expenses. Such escrowed funds shall be available to such individuals and families to obtain and retain permanent housing and to remove barriers to obtaining and retaining housing and shall not be countable toward otherwise applicable asset limits.
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