Advocating for policy change can be big or small. It can be petitioning your local mayor, school committee, state representative, or state senator to prioritize and scale programs that are proven to be effective in reducing homelessness or closing the achievement gap. It can be urging your congressmen to invest more in education, housing, or ensuring children, families and individuals in need have a protected safety net. It can be mobilizing your family, friends, and colleagues to speak out on a critical cause, in person or online.
This month, we’re looking back on the best of 2018: the moments that helped define the year’s successes, the ways we engage with our community, and the most significant impact we’ve seen this year. Each week, we’ll be taking a dive into an area of our work that has set this year apart. Today, we’re highlighting the federal and statewide advocacy and policy work that is creating lasting change.
We’re proud that our voices were heard! Last year, our network of passionate advocates joined with United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley and our partner agencies and:
- Successfully pushed for passage of the Housing Bond Bill, a critical package that authorizes $1.8 billion in new capital spending for the production and preservation of affordable housing for low- to moderate-income households, supportive housing and housing serving vulnerable populations. Additionally, the legislation authorizes $650 million for public housing modernization and redevelopment.
- Spearheaded the movement that reauthorized and expanded the Community Investment Tax Credit (CITC) to support critical economic and community development. Since 2015, the CITC has generated more than $34 million in private donations that drive small business development, housing production, job growth, neighborhood revitalization and civic engagement across the commonwealth through local Community Development Corporations (CDCs).
- Secured reauthorization of the Early Education and Out of School Time Capital Fund, a unique source of funding that supports major renovation and construction projects for facilities serving low-income children. Since its original passage in 2013, the EEOST Capital Fund has distributed over $15 million to 21 projects, helping organizations modernize their spaces and improve the quality of learning environments for children.
We’re proud of our advocacy on the federal level, too. Just last week, Congress reached a critical compromise on the Farm Bill, protecting the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance program (SNAP) and preserving access to nutritious food for those who need it most by keeping the current SNAP eligibility requirements and work provisions and maintaining state flexibility. Last year, more than 764,000 Massachusetts residents received food assistance through SNAP, and 32% of those receiving assistance are in working families.
Earlier this year, United Way and its partners helped secure the reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program and extended its funding for 10 years. This will provide much-needed stability for families, state programs and their budgets. In Massachusetts, this extension ensured affordable, high-quality consistent coverage for nearly 186,000 children.
We’re working now with our nonprofit partners to develop our policy agenda for the 2019-2020 Legislative Session. Sign up for our advocacy alerts to stay tuned for updates and join our efforts to create lasting change.