Advocates say a permanent funding stream for affordable housing — a real estate transfer fee or a mortgage registration fee that produced $2 to $4 million per year — could do the trick. And it is hardly a radical notion: a permanent stream of this kind exists in 41 other states.

Homeless advocates pushed for this sort of fee on Smith Hill this year, but they got nowhere. Instead, amid budget trauma and strong anti-tax sentiment, they took cuts. "We're not groups that hold a lot of power and clout," says Ryczek, of the small collection of advocates who made the case.

No. For that, they'll need public groundswell. They're staging a rally at the State House June 23 at 3 pm. Probably too late for this year, but you have to start somewhere.

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