House Committee Requests Cold Weather Shelter Report

Among the provisions that the House Appropriations Committee added during their consideration of the state budget this evening are two reporting requirements related to the protection and life-safety of people experiencing homelessness in cold weather.

The first is a requirement for the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the Department of Human Resources, and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner to collaborate to create a reporting system for cold weather deaths of people experiencing homelessness.

The budget language from the House Appropriations Committee also includes a requirement that the Interagency Council on Homelessness submit a report:

  • detailing local cold weather shelter planning processes;
  • identifying gaps in services and funding in local cold weather shelter plans;
  • establishing standards for local cold weather shelter planning; and
  • recommending any legislative changes needed.

The addition of the House Appropriations Committee is likely a follow-up to legislation that was introduced this year. HB 1482, Human Services – Homelessness – Emergency Cold Weather Planning, would have mandated the creation of emergency cold weather councils with specific membership in each county.

MACo testified that while well-intentioned, HB 1482 would have created a new structure that was redundant and potentially counterproductive to existing local partnerships to tackle cold weather emergencies.

MACo looks forward to working with the Interagency Council on Homelessness as they complete their report and appreciates the Committee’s interest in the resources needed to provide care for people experiencing homelessness in cold weather.

For more information, see the Homeless Sheltering Budget Language.