HCN News & Notes

Sen. Gomez Amendment Ensures Funding for Public-safety Grant Program

BOSTON — State Sen. Adam Gomez played a crucial role last week in ensuring that a key public-safety grant program will receive adequate funding to maintain services in the coming fiscal year. Through an amendment filed by Gomez to the Senate’s FY 2025 state budget, the Equitable Approaches to Public Safety (EAPS) matching grant program operated by the Department of Public Health will maintain its funding levels from last year at $3.5 million, allowing the program to continue to meet the growing needs of communities.

“I am so thankful that this amendment was adopted to ensure that this important grant program can continue to operate,” Gomez said. “We need to keep evolving the ways that we police and deliver care to our communities and vulnerable individuals, and the EAPS program is a valuable tool in that evolution as we look to offer the most comprehensive and compassionate care to our citizens.”

In partnership with the ACLU of Massachusetts, the Center for Public Representation, and the Disability Policy Consortium, matching grants for the Equitable Approaches to Public Safety Program are used to implement alternative response models for non-violent mental- and behavioral-health crises by dispatching community-based teams of providers and peers instead of or alongside law enforcement, with preference given to models using unarmed responders. Now in its second year, the EAPS program has garnered more than a dozen municipal applications for funding.

Expanding access to voluntary, community-based crisis services and alternative emergency-response strategies achieves several critical public policy goals: reducing law-enforcement use of violence, diverting those in need of behavioral-health interventions from incarceration to community services, and promoting more equitable outcomes for individuals with psychiatric conditions, including those from historically marginalized communities.

Matching grant funds are critical to the continuation and development of these programs, as access to funding is scarce, especially for lower-income municipalities. This funding is an ongoing investment in community-based crisis-response models, which have been endorsed by a wide array of organizations and have been successfully implemented in numerous cities and towns nationwide.

The two versions of the budget passed by the House and Senate are being sent to a legislative conference committee, where negotiators will resolve any differences between the two before sending it to Gov. Maura Healey.