Hampden County Diversion Meeting Minutes – 8/4/10

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Diversion meeting – 8/4/10

In attendance:  John Bednaz, NEFWC, Martha Ceplikas, DHCD, Marcia Crutchfield, HAP, Leonard Hayes, Steve Huntley, VOC, Jane Lindfors, DTA domestic violence, Eneida Madho, DCF, Betty Miller, NEFWC, Ita Mullarkey, DHCD,  Jim Reis, HAP, Tom Salter, NEFWC, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Luz Vega, Womanshelter, Janette Vigo, YWCA

Current situation: Martha noted that applications have picked up tremendously this past week.  An average of 20 families/day.   John, diversion worker, confirmed big pick-up in traffic.

Staffing update: Assistant director position and new homeless coordinator hires moving along, awaiting Governor action.

NEFWC HPRP amendment for additional hire:    hoping to get approval within a couple of weeks, will post and hire immediately.

Space issue at DTA office: Ita will advocate for additional cubicle for DHCD on first floor for efficiency; consider possible move of clerical staff to 2nd floor.  John confirmed that move to 2nd floor would be very difficult for flow.

HAP’s conflict resolution services: HAP will offers two sessions per week starting the first week of September.  How do families get referred?  Jim will follow-up with DHCD and DCF to work out protocol, allowing for referrals from both to take place.

Housing Authorities: Can DHCD work with housing authorities on doubling up so they do not evict on that basis?   DHCD sent letter to housing authorities advising them not to evict on basis of doubling up.  Ita will send this memo to providers.

HAP ESG funds: Distributed guidelines and criteria for state ESG eligibility (Springfield guidelines will be available next week).   State funds ready to access now (city within the week).  $52K from state; $42K from city.  All cash assistance for families (note 3 month maximum of assistance).

HAP appointment system with diversion cases coming from DHCD: Expanded appointment times from 30 to 60 minutes to allow for completion of application process.  Will involve more counselors.  Will continue to iron out details with John and Martha as process evolves.

Motel update: HAP is out of funding and no longer working with families In motels.  VOC working with 30 families in motels.

Other issues:

Families in DV shelters, technically EA eligible but can’t become EA eligible because DV shelters do not ask families to leave so they are not eligible for diversion funds.  Everyone acknowledged the problem but Ita responded that with a shelter system over-capacity, 675 families living in motels, in a deficit spending situation…it is not possible to expand numbers entering the system any further.

Teen mothers:  Boston and Western Mass. have highest rate of people under 24 entering shelter.  Statistical reference should not be limited to Springfield alone since it actually refers to the entire region – citing “Springfield” alone does not accurately reflect the numbers and the demographics.

Next meeting: will merge with family services committee meeting on 9/14 at 1 pm at the Holyoke DTA office.