House budget amendments: ask your legislator to co-sponsor!

This week, our State Representatives will be deciding which House budget amendments to co-sponsor. This is our opportunity to advocate for their support of our key priorities (for contact info on your state legislator, go here). In partnership with our statewide advocacy partners, CHAPA, Mass Coalition for the Homeless and Homes for Families, the Network’s priority amendments are key to moving us forward in our effort to prevent and end homelessness.

Please contact your Representative to request their co-sponsorship of the following Amendments:

#401 – Mass Rental Voucher Program (MRVP) filed byRepresentative Paul Donato to increasing funding to $130 million to provide approximately 700 new vouchers.

#859 – MRVP filed by Representative Joe McGonagle to raise the Fair Market Rent levels from 2005 to current standards. 

#1127 – Rent Arrearage Assistance Program (RAAP)  filed by  Representative Marjorie Decker to create a $7 million upstream homelessness prevention pilot program within RAFT. 

#883 – Youth homelessness filed by Representative Jim O’Day to increase funding to $5 million for housing and wraparound services for unaccompanied youth and young adults experiencing homelessness. 

#682 – Secure Jobs filed by Representative Paul Brodeur to increase funding to $2 million to provide workforce development support for homeless families and individuals. 

#40 – Housing Consumer Education Centers Amendment filed by Representative Kevin Honan to increase HCEC funding to $4 million. 

#765 – Mass ID access filed by Representative Kay Khan to create a new outside section of the budget to ease access to standard Mass IDs for people experiencing homelessness. 

#1318 Craig’s Doors Emergency Shelter filed by Representative Mindy Domb to ensure that $175,000 of the emergency shelter line-item is allocated to this Amherst shelter, the only behavior-based shelter in Hampshire County, which serves individuals from Hampden and Franklin Counties as well.

#195 – Berkshire Winter Overflow Shelter Services  filed by Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier for $150,000 to provide critical winter emergency shelter services in Berkshire County. 

#1345 – Western MA Network to End Homelessness Amendmentfiled by Representative Lindsay Sabadosa to continue $125,000 in funding for the Network and its collective impact efforts.  

Thanks for your advocacy!




Family Services Meeting Minutes – 4/10/19

n attendance: Rebecca Burgos, CFCE West Springfield, Hillary Cronin, VA,, Brenda Garcia, BHN Project Fit, Jill Fijal, Chicopee Public Schools, Jenise Kataliina, Square One, Fran Lemay, ServiceNet, Heather Marshall, Elizabeth Freeman Center, Michelle Michaelian, BHN, Donna Nadeau, DHCD

Built for Zero Update: Pamela updated the group on her attendance at the Built For Zero Learning Session in Atlanta, GA in late March as part of the Hampden County CoC team. This is a very exciting initiative – over 70 CoCs and communities represented with 500 people from across the country – working as part of a national initiative (led by the national organization Community Solutions) in collaboration with HUD, VA and the US Interagency on Homelessness. Its first focus is to end veteran homelessness (several communities have celebrated this milestone; Hampden County has set June 30 for its goal!).  “Ending” means reaching “functional zero” where the number of people experiencing homelessness each month is less than the average number of people who are rehoused (i.e., the “outflow” is larger than the “inflow”). After achieving veteran homelessness, the initiative will focus its efforts on ending chronic homelessness and then all forms of homelessness (youth and family).

Built for Zero considers itself a movement for social change, anchored in fundamental grassroots organizing principles (there is no such thing as doing “for” only “with”), entirely data-driven and using that data to make highly measurable progress.  It is positively inspiring to be a part of it!
Pamela shared this information with the new 3 County CoC lead – Community Action – and they are participating in a webinar on 4/9 about how new communities can join.  We will all stay tuned.  The next national convening will be in October and meanwhile the work in Hampden County continues with the countdown to ending veteran homelessness by June 30.  

School Liaison/Shelter Provider Update: Jill Fijal of Chicopee Public Schools reported out on the Network meeting of school liaisons and shelter providers to build stronger partnerships so students living in shelters are better served and connected to services.  School liaisons will offer a training for all shelter case managers on July 23 to train them on McKinney Vento policies and resources.  Jill is the liaison on this.  Thank you, Jill!

Child Care Voucher/Head Start/CFCE Training: As a follow-up to the new EEC voucher regulations and our outreach on Head Start and CFCE, the Network is sponsoring a training on Tuesday, April 30, 9:30 am – 11:30 am at Holyoke Community College – Kittredge Center, Room 301.  Please register here.   We clarified that Sara Garvin of NEFWC will be participating in the EEC training; Rebecca Burgos will be the point person for the CFCE outreach and we will maximize the turn-out of shelter case managers to this training so they are in possession of this information as they serve families. 

MA Youth Count: April 12 – May 12 – Go here for the surveys and related information.

FY20 State Budget Update: Pamela, in combination with various Network partners, has been leading meetings with Western MA state legislators regarding the Network’s FY20 budget priorities.  Today, Network partners got an audience with Senate President Spilka who joined a planned meeting with Senator Anne Gobi (from Ware and Palmer), a fabulous opportunity to bring Western MA needs to the highest levels of state government!

Register for the Resource Fair!Monday, June 10, 9 am – 12 noon, Holyoke Community College.  

To register to attend: go here

To register to request table space to share resources: go here (note: if you’re having a table but have additional staff attending, please register on the general attendance link as well).

Next meeting date: Tuesday, May 14, 11 am – 12:30 pm, Frost Building, Room 309, Holyoke Community College.




3 County Individual Services Meeting Minutes – 4/8/19

In attendance: Yoshi Bird, YWCA, Steve Connor, Veterans Services, Sara Cunningham, Community Action, Eleanor Dodson, ServiceNet, Erin Forbush, ServiceNet, Lisa Goldsmith, Community Action, Jade Lovett, Craig’s Doors, Elizabeth Mansfield, Tapestry,  Danielle McColgan, CHD, Katie Miernecki, ServiceNet, Theresa Nicholson, CHD, Aidan Novo, Craig’s Doors, Aisha Pizarro, YWCA, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Kate Shapiro, DMH, Michael Trembley, ServiceNet

SSI/SSDI Training: Big thanks to Caitlyn Thomas, a Social Security disability advocate, for volunteering her incredible time and energy to organizing and leading a training of roughly 75 Network partners this morning at Holyoke Public Library on SS/SSDI.  The feedback was excellent across the board and the only “complaint” was wanting more!  Pamela will discuss with Caitlyn any possibility for supplemental training and/or distribution of the presentation.

Built for Zero Update: Pamela updated the group on her attendance at the Built For Zero Learning Session in Atlanta, GA in late March as part of the Hampden County CoC team. This is a very exciting initiative – over 70 CoCs and communities represented with 500 people from across the country – working as part of a national initiative (led by the national organization Community Solutions) in collaboration with HUD, VA and the US Interagency on Homelessness. Its first focus is to end veteran homelessness (several communities have celebrated this milestone; Hampden County has set June 30 for its goal!).  “Ending” means reaching “functional zero” where the number of people experiencing homelessness each month is less than the average number of people who are rehoused (i.e., the “outflow” is larger than the “inflow”). After achieving veteran homelessness, the initiative will focus its efforts on ending chronic homelessness and then all forms of homelessness (youth and family).

Built for Zero considers itself a movement for social change, anchored in fundamental grassroots organizing principles (there is no such thing as doing “for” only “with”), entirely data-driven and using that data to make highly measurable progress.  It is positively inspiring to be a part of it!
Pamela shared this information with the new 3 County CoC lead – Community Action – and they are participating in a webinar on 4/9 about how new communities can join.  We will all stay tuned.  The next national convening will be in October and meanwhile the work in Hampden County continues with the countdown to ending veteran homelessness by June 30.  

Discussion of 3 county assessment tool:  The group began to revisit the question of the 3 County CoC’s assessment tool for its coordinated entry system. All Built for Zero communities use the VI-SPDAT, which was previously rejected by the 3 County CoC in favor of the AZ Matrix Tool. Pamela suggested the group take another look since the VI-SPDAT allows for a common language, more training resources and comparison with the other CoC’s across the nation (as well as the Hampden County CoC).  It was agreed that this was an appropriate issue for the Coordinated Entry work group to take up.  Pamela will just give a heads-up on the question (and what she took away from the Built for Zero session) at the CoC Board meeting on Wed. 

Update on PSH transition: Theresa Nicholson of CHD gave a report on its acquisition of ServiceNet’s PSH contract and her search for new units.  She has a promising lead on a complex in Millers Falls, although we discussed access to public transportation as a possible barrier. She will examine other transpo options. At this point, CHD will be taking over ServiceNet’s 26 units for PSH (and will add 28-30 more).  If CHD can enter into a sub-contract with ServiceNet (for its remaining dollars), some of these units could come on line in May; otherwise it will be in July when CHD takes over the full contract.

Shelter Plus Care conversations: We reported out on the initial meeting with DMH and ACCS (ServiceNet) regarding implementation of system changes to ease the eligibility and housing process.  The group will meet again in May and will keep this group updated.

MA Youth Count: April 12 – May 12 – go here for surveys and related information – please spread the word and participate!

Shelter Update:  Shelters are full as usual. We agreed to reframe this topic on the monthly agenda to address questions/issues ripe for discussion – Pamela will check in with Erin, Katie and Jade prior to meeting to see if there is something they want to discuss.

FY20 State Budget Update: Pamela, in combination with various Network partners, has been leading meetings with Western MA state legislators regarding the Network’s FY20 budget priorities.  On April 8, Network partners got an audience with Senate President Spilka who joined a planned meeting with Senator Anne Gobi (from Ware and Palmer), a fabulous opportunity to bring Western MA needs to the highest levels of state government!

Register for the Resource Fair!Monday, June 10, 9 am – 12 noon, Holyoke Community College. 

 To register to attend: go here

To register to request table space to share resources: go here (note: if you’re having a table but have additional staff attending, please register on the general attendance link as well).

Next meeting date: Monday, May 13, 1 pm, ServiceNet, 296 Nonotuck St, Northampton




House Budget Amendment Advocacy!

The FY20 House Budget is out and amendments are rapidly being filed (must file by 5 pm today) and the Network is asking you to contact your legislators to request their co-sponsorship of the following amendments (filing deadline is today but they have until end of next week to sign on as a co-sponsor). Contact your legislators ASAP by email or phone (go here to find your contact info). You can relay the information below to your legislator about how to sign on. Thanks for your advocacy!

The MRVP Amendment #401 (7004-9024) filed by Representative Paul Donato to fund MRVP at $130 million (House Ways and Means – HWM) proposed $110 million).
Please sign on directly online.

The MRVP Amendment (7004-9024) filed by Representative Joe McGonagle to raise the Fair Market Rent levels from 2005 to current standards. Please sign on directly on line.

Rent Arrearage Assistance Program (RAAP) (7004-9316) Amendment filed by  Representative Marjorie Decker to create a $7 million upstream homelessness prevention pilot program within RAFT. Please sign on by contacting Akriti Bhambi in Rep. Decker’s office at akriti.bhambi@mahouse.gov.

Youth homelessness amendment (4000-0007) filed by Representative Jim O’Day to increase funding to $5 million for housing and wraparound services for unaccompanied youth and young adults experiencing homelessness (HWM funded at $3.3m). Please sign on by contacting Alexis Foley in Rep. O’Day’s office at alexis.foley@mahouse.gov.

Secure Jobs amendment (4400-1020) to increase funding to $2 million (HWM funded at $1 million) filed by Representative Paul Brodeur. Please sign on by contacting Patrick Prendergrast at patrick.prendergast@mahouse.gov.

Housing Consumer Education Centers (7004-3036) filed by Representative Kevin Honan to increase HCEC funding from $3.5 million to $4 million. Please sign on by contacting Kelly Malon in Rep. Honan’s office at kelly.mallon@mahouse.gov 

Berkshire Winter Overflow Shelter Services (7004-0102) filed by Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier to provide $150,000 for critical winter emergency shelter services in Berkshire County. 

The Western MA Network to End Homelessness Amendment (7004-0102) filed by Representative Lindsay Sabadosa to continue to fund the Network at $125,000 this year. Contact Rep. Sabadosa at Lindsay.Sabadosa@mahouse.gov.




New MA Affordable Housing Report from the Federal Reserve Bank

The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston just released a new report that underscores once again, this time with town-by-town data (and an interactive map!), the massive affordable housing crisis across the Commonwealth.

This is a great resource for talking with your local and state officials, bringing home the number of extremely low-income households in each community and comparing that to the number of affordable housing units. The report finds statewide that there is less than 1 affordable and available housing unit for every 2 extremely low-income households.

You can find your community here.




Region 1 Forum on Family Homelessness – April 3, Boston

An invitation from the US Department of Health and Human Resources:

You are invited to join us!

A regional forum and listening session about families experiencing
homelessness 

Hosted by the Administration for Children and Families of the U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services
Date:  Wednesday, April 3, 2019
Time:  12:30pm – 4:30pm (EDT) 
Location:Tip O’Neil Building Auditorium10 Causeway St Boston
Purpose: To provide a discussion forum for the identification of needs
and innovations in approaching solutions to family homelessness. 
Free Event. Registration is required and space is limited.
To attend, please register at: 
https://acf.adobeconnect.com/e2m8d8ffn3r9/event/registration.html 
Thank you for all you do to strengthen families and support
communities. We look forward to being in touch again soon. 
For more information contact: 

Ruthie M. Doyal Executive Analyst
Phone: 202-205-7889
Email: Ruthie.Doyal@acf.hhs.govwww.acf.hhs.gov/programs/fysb




Support Regional Public Transit: Comments due 3/29

A better public transit system is key to ending homelessness. The
Regional Transit Authority Task Force issued a draft report that
recommends greater investment in public transit. Weigh in with your
support!

Thanks to the Public Health Institute of Western MA for their
advocacy alert below:

Email your state representatives
Contact your State Representative to let them know you support
responsible Regional Transit Authority (RTA) Funding. This link will
redirect you to a MASSPIRG page to send an email to your state representative.

Read and comment on the draft report
Read the Draft RTA Task Force Report, A Vision For the Future of
Massachusetts’ Regional Transit Authorities, and submit comments by
March 29 at 5 pm. 

This page links to the report with commenting instructions.

Get your organization involved
If your organization wants to participate in advocacy for RTA riders,
please contact Angela Johnson at T4MA or Andrea Freeman at the
Massachusetts Public Health Association.




Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting Minutes – 3/20/19

In attendance: Peter Cofoni, DCF, MarleneCorales, Westover Job Corps, Emily English, Gandara Center, Lisa Goldsmith, Community Action, Ann Lentini, Domus, Gerry McCafferty, Hampden County CoC, Magnus Monroe, Davis Foundation, Lizzy Ortiz, Mercy Medical Center, Phil Ringwood, DIAL/SELF, Ellorie Stevens, DCF, Tyrese Tillman, CHD Safety Zone, Kelsey Wessels, DIAL/SELF

EOHHS Youth Grant Updates:Three County CoC:

  • Between Jan and March: 69 young people were connecting to services; 29 new young people served and 17 under the EOHHS grant. 20 young people have been housed. 
  • Winter shelter planning: discussions underway with shelter providers to make shelters more youth-focused
  • Needs assessment: RFP has been issued to obtain a consultant
  • Coordinated Entry: paused due to CoC transition between Hilltown CDC and Community Action

Hampden County:

  • 31 young people are currently housed. 
  • Needs assessment: consultants have been retained and meetings are underway, both with providers and young people focus groups. On April 4, there will be a debrief session with the consultants. 9:30 am – 12:30 pm at UMass Springfield.  Stay tuned for details. 
  • Coordinated Entry: Gandara and CHD are meeting at least monthly and are now the main points of entry for coordinated entry.  Working towards expanding the entry points and referral sources.  The outreach to DCF will be part of that. 
  • Youth shelter: working on locating space.  Meanwhile staff have been hired and are being trained and utilized for outreach. 

MA Youth Count:  Will take place between 4/12- 5/12. Planning is underway for outreach and identification.  DCF will be enlisted as part of the outreach.  MassHire Holyoke is holding a career services fair focused on youth on April 10, 4-6 pm, War Memorial in Holyoke.  Contact Gladys LeBron of MassHire Holyoke for follow-up. 

DCF training on May 23, 10 am – 12  noon, Kittredge Center, HCC: Elorie reminded us of the cross-training audience – staff from DCF, DYS, probation, etc. We clarified our goals and objectives: 

  • to gain an understanding of available services to address youth homelessness
  • when in contact with a young person who is at risk or currently homeless, to learn how to access the system, what is the full-service continuum
  • to get information on the eligibility guidelines for each program

We will have tables with information available.  We will provide summary sheets of programs and eligibility criteria.
Pamela will convene a conference call to plan further with:  Emily, Phil, Lizzy, Lisa, Tyrese, Gerry 

YHDP grant: HUD issued next round of grant opportunity for CoC for community response to youth homelessness.  Hampden County is applying again (previous applications did not score quite high enough). This time able to rely on the additional input from needs assessment and foster care project and the development of a youth advisory board.

Foster Care Collaboration Update – The journey mapping is underway to look at the trajectory for youth ages 14 to mid-20’s.  A  group of 8 youth met yesterday; very productive conversation.  

Be sure to sign up for the Annual Resource Fair on June 10 if you haven’t already!
To register to attend: go here.To register to request table space to share resources: go here

Next meeting dates:
4/17, 9:30 am, Kittredge Center, Room 203
5/8, 9:30 am, Holyoke Public Library
6/5, 9:30, Kittredge Center, Room 303