Family Services Committee Meeting Minutes
May 8, 2018
In attendance: Shelly Benoit, BHN, Joel Cox, PFC/NEFWC, Hillary Cronin, VA HUD VASH, Fran LeMay, ServiceNet (Greenfield Family Inn), Yeisie Matea, DCF, Heather Marshall, Elizabeth Freeman Center, Michelle Michaelian, BHN, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Steve Plummer Springfield Partners, Jenni Pothier, MHA/TPP, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Tonya Sparks, Womanshelter, Janna Tetreault, Community Action, Janette Vigo, Way Finders, Melissa White, VOCpartnership of affordable housing owners and homeless shelters – started 2012-2013 – private multi-family units – DHCD
DHCD Data Review: We reviewed the monthly report provided by DHCD (thanks to Andrew and Donna) and we determined the following questions that Donna will follow-up with Andrew to discuss (thank you, Donna!):
- Is it possible to get the number entering and exiting shelter without the internal shelter transfers included (since with them, the number tells us nothing)
- The number of families with DV history has stayed constant at 42 for the past 4 months. What does that tell us about the data entry?
Homelessness Resource Fair Planning
The Resource Fair is taking place on June 14, 9:30-12:30, HCC, Kittredge Center. We have received registration forms from 101 people so far. We have 8 workshops planned and have the opportunity to repeat 4 of them. We agreed with the other committee input so far to repeat: how the EA system works; career services; overcoming tenant screening barriers and the opioid epidemic’s intersection with homelessness.
Anyone interested in attending the Resource Fair or having table space can simply be advised to email me at email@example.com (it’s not critical to complete the registration form). Most important is to have names of who is attending and organizations who want to have table space.
New Lease for Homeless Families – presentation by Tom Plihcik, executive director
contact info: tplihcik@
Special thanks to Tom for making the trip from Eastern MA to share an overview of New Lease and its work in Western MA. Below are some highlights from his talk and the discussion:
- New Lease is a non-profit organization that came into existence as a pilot project, initially through the inspiration and funding of affordable housing development owners seeking a better system for ensuring stable tenancies and fewer vacancies. It is now funded by a combination of state dollars through DHCD, owners’ contributions and other traditional fundraising efforts.It is housed at CHAPA offices in Boston with a staff of 3.
- New Lease offers affordable housing owners a way to utilize preferences (as approved by HUD) – in this instance a homelessness preference as defined by EA – to fill vacancies. It partners with EA shelters to create a waiting list so tenants are at the ready, pre-qualified, paper work complete, and ready to move in when a vacancy occurs. Owners decide how many units to allocate to this preference – could be every one, could be every other, or ever 5 – completely up to the owner. It is also possible to implement other preferences, e.g, elderly, veterans – as allowed by HUD – which New Lease can help facilitate as well.
- New Lease now works within 50 buildings across the state – 9 larger affordable housing owners – and partners with 16 shelter providers. Biggest regions are Boston and Springfield.
- In Western MA, New Lease has 8 properties in Springfield, Palmer, Greenfield and Pittsfield. Working to get one in Holyoke. Tom will send us a more detailed list of buildings in our region.
- They have been housing people since 2013. 98% retention rate. The success also fuels the challenge of gaining more units (with such high retention, moving families in requires adding more units).
- The program also offers a “mitigation process” for families who are rejected from tenancies due to credit or landlord histories. New Lease creates housing success for one-third of the families who first time “fail” in their applications (98% success rate). They work with the longest shelter stayers to get them housed.
- New Lease works with the shelter stabilization workers over the 12 months but then continues to provide support as needed. They have created a flexible fund to deal with tenancy crises, e.g., rent arrearages. They have just hired a staff person devoted to stabilization services.
- If we have any contacts with affordable housing owners, please relay to Tom. Always looking for new relationships to build. This effort is all about partnerships!
Update on Resources for PR Evacuees: Catholic Charities has received additional housing funds targeted to house PR evacuees. It has housed 94 families thus far and another 100 families in process. Please contact Kathryn Buckley-Brawner at firstname.lastname@example.org or 413-433-1007 for additional information.
Next meeting date: We agreed to meet the week following the Resource Fair to debrief (as opposed to our usual 2nd Tuesday which would put us 2 days before the Resource Fair). We will meet next on: Tues., June 19, 1 pm – 2:30 pm, Location TBD.