Author Archives: Pamela Schwartz

House Budget Update

The House Ways and Means Committee released its FY18 budget last week and will be debating it next week.  The Network Leadership Council met last week to adjust the Network budget priorities in relation to the House budget proposal, which are copied below.  Please contact your state representative (click here to find your legislator) to ask them to co-sponsor the budget amendments pertaining to these priorities and/or to thank them for their support.
Specifically, Representative Peter Kocot (Northampton) has submitted an amendment for the fourth consecutive year to support the Network itself. Also co-sponsoring this amendment are: Representatives Goldstein-Rose (Amherst), Mark (Peru), Puppolo (Springfield), Tosado (Springfield), Vega (Holyoke) and Williams (Springfield).  Representative Joe Wagner (Chicopee) is sponsoring the Secure Jobs Amendment to provide sufficient funding to maintain the Secure Jobs program statewide.  Many of our legislators are attaching their names to various Network priorities, so please don’t hesitate to ask your legislator to confirm their co-sponsorship of these amendments.
We can be pleased and proud of our Western MA delegation on homelessness issues and this is an important opportunity to both ask and thank.
Below are the Network’s funding priorities in order of their priority:
  • Youth program funding: please co-sponsor Rep. Jim O’Day’s amendment to fund youth programs $4 million ($0 in HWM budget)
  • Local Consortium funding (homelessness prevention funds): please co-sponsor Rep. Kay Kahn’s amendment to fund the Local Consortiums $1 million ($0 in HWM budget)
  • Western MA Network to End Homelessness earmark: please co-sponsor Rep. Peter Kocot’s amendment (#849) for $125,000 ($0 in HWM budget)
  • Secure Jobs Initiative: please co-sponsor Rep. Joe Wagner’s amendment for $2 million ($500,000 in HWM budget)
  • Tenancy Preservation Program: please co-sponsor Rep. Byron Rushing’s amendment (#531) to fund TPP $1 million ($500,000 in HWM budget)
  • RAFT language to include individuals: please co-sponsor Rep. Marjorie Decker’s amendment (#90), particularly regarding the insertion of language that provides eligibility for individuals.
Of course the Network’s other priorities – from MRVP to HCECs to individual shelter funding to the sub-regional earmarks for Craig’s Doors and Berkshire overflow winter shelter, are extremely important to the Network’s goals and we are encouraging our legislators to support them as well.  The Network Leadership Council analyzed the additional statewide or local support available for these other initiatives in determining their top Network priorities.
For additional House budget analyses, please go here:
Any of the above links offer great ways to stay immediately up to date on budget developments, and I will also keep you posted as the budget process unfolds
Pamela Schwartz, Director
Western Massachusetts Network to End Homelessness

Individual Services Meeting Minutes – 4/13/17

Individual Services Committee Meeting Minutes

In attendance:  Grechar Aquino, Friends of the Homeless, Steve Connor, Veterans Services, John Fisher, Way Finders, Janice Humason, Friends of the Homeless, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Charlie Knight, SCARF/Rainville, Jen Lucca, Samaratin Inn, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Digno Oritz, Friends of the Homeless, Luz Ortiz, Friends of the Homeless, Katie Roberts, Clean SlateWS, Denise Rivera, Friends of the Homeless, Christina Ruest, Friends of the Homeless, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Stephanie Tonelli, Friends of the Homeless, Lynn White, HRU

Hampden County Update:
Just conducted a Coordinated Entry training – about 40 people attended, including PSH and shelter providers – PSH providers, shelter providers – on the mechanics of coordinated entry, e.g., documenting chronic homelessness status, prioritizing based on vulnerability assessment, using a centrally coordinated list.  Outreach still to do to health care providers.  Continuing to tackle the challenge of creating systems for street population and other shelters for coordinated entry.

HUD CoC Competition underway and must produce updated policies and procedures on Coordinated Entry – stay tuned

2 applications going in for 5 year SAMHSA grant to work with CH individuals with dual diagnoses – one from BHN, the other from FOH/CSO. Hopefully one will get funded and these resources will be available.

Three County CoC Update:
Making progress on by-name list for CH individuals, targeting use of the assessment tool.  Working on the mechanics of a Release of Information across agencies (Gerry noted a sharing of best practices that has an ROI referring to a web-based listing which allows for the changing nature of organizations and the continuing application of the signed ROI).

It was noted that when the total by-name list of CH individuals (just under 60) is broken down by county, the challenge is less overwhelming – brings home the value of targeting

The by-name list of veterans is in full use, targeting the homeless veterans who are not “covered” in the new per diem “bed type” categories as dictated by the VA (and implemented by Soldier On). Soldier On is opening new housing in Agawam in August (an earlier than anticipated opening date), bringing 51 housing units on line for homeless veterans.

There was discussion of cross-referencing between Hampden and Three County lists in order to zero in on people who are from Hampden County and sleep outside in the warmer months and utilize Hampshire County shelters in the colder months. Gerry is trying to connect to the dots on outreach to these people. Jay Levy and Stephanie Tonelli will talk more about this.

Data Template Review
The group discussed the effort thus far to collate data from individual shelters to analyze demand and learn about gaps. We recounted that last month was our first month of exchanging the data template for all shelters where we agreed that without a more focused data analysis it was difficult to utilize the data well. Pamela, Gerry and Bill met prior to this meeting to discuss the goals further. We reported back that some concern was raised around focusing on the geographic origin of people attending since it could inadvertently foster concerns around serving “out-of-town” people in need of shelter. We agreed that our concern is providing emergency shelter to those in need, not a “my people vs. your people” approach.

Gerry noted that if the goal is determining where there is high need, we can do that through the Point in Time Count (e.g., Holyoke has a high number of unsheltered people and no emergency shelter).

We also noted the capacity issue around data analysis, i.e., we have none! So we do not want to add to people’s work load in data production without clarity around how it will be used.

Gerry noted that DHCD is very interested in enhancing data around homeless individuals in general, wanting to set targets and goals but needing good data to do so. DHCD is looking at creating a data warehouse to look at de-identified and de-duplicated data.  Gerry noted that within the next 6-9 months, there be increased capacity to examine data at both a State and CoC level.

Meanwhile, we can get clear on what data we are looking for and why. Gerry noted that looking at the unsheltered population more deeply may reveal more information about gaps in needs; that the development of the by-name list has also been a great source of learning about the population. We agreed that at our next meeting, Gerry could share this information as well as a look at what HMIS could provide very readily. We agreed that we do not want to reinvent the wheel in data production but instead draw on what currently exists and delve more deeply.

Jay noted the importance of ensuring access to shelter for all those who need it in the community in which they live.

It was also noted that the best response to the high shelter numbers is to institute a diversion program that offers stable housing as an alternative to shelter.

Shelter update:
Craig’s Doors and Northampton cot shelter closing 5/1
Taylor Street is seasonal but not closing 5/1, will be open until funds run out, likely June/July
FOH: transitioning overflow population to main shelter; looking by end of month not to have anyone in overflow; women no longer in overflow.

Next meeting date: Thurs May 4, 9:30-11 am, Northampton Senior Center, subject to confirmation.


Topics for next meeting:

Learn more about what the by-name list tells us as compared to HMIS – what additional insight does it provide?            What does HMIS provide in terms of our demand/gap analysis?

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting Minutes – 4/12/17

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee Meeting Minutes
April 12, 2017

In attendance: Jesus Arce, City of Springfield, Jenny Davila, CHD Safety Zone, Courtnee Godbout, Friends of the Homeless, Lisa Goldsmith, DIAL/SELF,  Jay Levy, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services,  Jose Lopez-Figueroa, STCC, Kim Majewski, Gandara Center, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Jean Rogers, CHD, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Daisy Vera, YWCA Youth Build

Program updates:
Three County: numbers of youth seeking support are rising across both sub-regions (Berkshires; Franklin/Hampshire), a testimony to the combination of the need that is out there and the outreach that is ongoing.
Currently working with 105 people, including partners and children.
9 youth have subsidies; 35 are in process.
89 are 18-25 years old, 16 are under 18 (presumably children of parenting youth)
Click here for the Three County’s Youth Program Quarterly Report to EOHHS.

Hampden County: Acquired 8 new apartments in March, now leasing 13 apartments with 15 participants, all of whom are either working or going to school.
26 students are on the wait list for apartments but are currently actively engaged; one youth utilized a host home last month but is not in the transitional housing program; SHINE’s Transitional Housing program has all 8 beds filled but with funding ending at the end of Sept., plans are afoot for transitioning the youth to stable housing. Federally funded Rapid Rehousing program is also fully running – 8 apartments with 8-10 youth.
Click here for Hampden County’s Youth Program Quarterly Report to EOHHS.

FY18 State Budget Update
Pamela reported on the House Ways and Means budget that was released 2 days ago. It did not include funding for the youth program (similar situation last year) but an amendment is being filed by Rep. Jim O’Day to restore funding. The Network Leadership Council met yesterday and decided youth funding was its top priority. Pamela is communicating with our region’s legislators now on this and urging their co-sponsorship of this (and other) amendments.

2017 Hampden County Point in Time Count: (Click  here for the report)
0 unaccompanied homeless youth under 18
141 homeless youth 18-24 years
— 35 non-parenting youth – 25 in shelter (Friends of the Homeless, Samaratin Inn, Rescue Mission), 10 living on the streets
–106 parenting youth

The number of homeless youth has dropped 51% since the 2015 count, driven primarily by closing hotels.  Trend data has limited meaning because of the state system and the fact that a percentage of families are placed in this region but are from other parts of the state.

The more meaningful number is the number of non-parenting, unsheltered youth – that number was 4 in 2013 and is 10 in 2017, a function of the greater outreach taking place across the community.

Parenting youth:
79% female
21% male
71% latina
18% black
9% non-Hispanic white
2% other

Non-parenting youth:
49% female
51% male
57% latino
23% black
17% non-Hispanic White
3% other

It was noted that it would be useful to compare this breakdown with census data. Gerry will look into that.

Lisa will follow-up with Andrea and Dave of the Three County CoC to ask for Three County Point in Time Count data.

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Leadership Council Meeting Minutes – April 11, 2017

Leadership Council Meeting Minutes
April 11, 2017

 In attendance: Jim Ayres, United Way of Hampshire County, Mary Jane Bacon, Office of Senator Rosenberg, Jane Banks, Center for Human Development, Tim Brennan, Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, Kathryn Buckley-Brawner, Catholic Charities, Dave Christopolis, Three County CoC, Steve Connor, Hampshire County Veterans Services, Dawn DiStefano, Square One, Lisa Goldsmith, DIAL/SELF, Brad Gordon, Berkshire Regional Housing Authority, Steve Huntley, Valley Opportunity Council, Peg Keller, City of Northampton, Jennifer Kinsman, United Way of Pioneer Valley, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Michelle Michaeliann, BHN, Andrew Morehouse, Food Bank of Western MA, Rebecca Muller, Grantworks, Kristin Peterson, YWCA of Western MA, Christina Royal, Holyoke Community College, Jim Seney, VAMC, Janna Tetreault, Community Action

 Minutes of March 1, 2017 meeting:
Kathryn Buckley-Brawner moved to adopt; Steve Huntley
Unanimously in favor

Budget update: Current cash balance for the Network (at United Way of Pioneer Valley) is $4,045 for the remainder of fiscal year, includes receipts and pledges (one outstanding pledges). Partner contributions totaling $5,584 came in during the last couple of months. UWPV will forego its 10% admin fee for the remainder of the year (thanks expressed). Additionally, the Hampden County CoC and Community Action have each separately contracted with Pamela to provide facilitation for the Network committee meetings (dependent on geography of meetings and/or with youth meeting on rotating basis). This allows for the bulk of the UWPV funds to be allocated to the Network’s legislative advocacy work, along with general networking opportunities.

Legislative Update: Pamela reported that the Network has met with a dozen legislators over the last several weeks – Senator Rosenberg, Senator Lesser, Rep. Kulik, Rep. Farley-Bouvier, Rep. Gonzalez, Rep. Kocot, Rep. Mark, Rep. Tosado, Rep. Scibak, Rep. Vega, Rep. Velis, and Rep. Williams – to share Network priorities. At each meeting, different Network partners have attended based on the legislator’s district. Additional meetings are scheduled with Senator Hinds, Senator Humason and Senator Welch. The meetings have been very positive.

Prioritizing the Network’s Budget Priorities: At our last meeting with Senator Rosenberg, Rep. Kulik, Rep. Kocot and Rep. Scibak, the group received a direct ask for the Network’s top priorities among our list of priorities.

The Leadership Council discussion focused on answering the questions:

  1. What priorities will most greatly serve our region in particular?
  2. Where are there no or few other champions on the issue (i.e., our delegation is most needed)?

The group also reviewed the House Ways and Means (HWM) budget in relation to these questions to determine its priorities.

Motion to approve these top priorities list below: Peg Keller. Seconded: Steve Huntley
In favor: 21. Opposed: 1 (Steve Connor expressed preference for MRVP to be among the Network’s top priorities)

Motion to approve these priorities in the order listed below: Kathryn Buckley-Brawner. Seconded: Tim Brennan.
In favor: 20. Abstentions: Jim Ayres, Jay Sacchetti

The Leadership Council priorities are:

  1. Youth program funding ($0 in HWM)
  2. Consortium funding ($0 in HWM)
  3. Network earmark ($0 in HWM)
  4. Secure Jobs Initiative ($500K in HWM budget, down from $800K in Gov.’s budget)
  5. Tenancy Preservation Program ($500K in HWM, level funded; ask is $1m)
  6. RAFT language expansion to define family to include individuals (language not included in Governor or HWM budget)

The LC agreed that these priorities will be qualified by the explicit notation of the importance all of its initial priorities.

Network earmark amount (Motion to accept: Steve Huntley; Seconded: Tim Brennan; All in favor):

The Leadership Council decided after discussion to request the earmark in the amount of $125,000 but make clear to Rep. Kocot that if budget constraints required a reduction, the Network could also manage to continue with an amount between $50-$75,000.

Note: Pamela also raised earlier in the meeting the suggestion posed by Bill Miller (who was unable to attend the meeting) that the earmark be drawn from the family homelessness line-item since it is much larger than the individual services line-item and any earmark will proportionally impact the services less. While the Council heard this suggestion, it was not discussed at greater length. Pamela will inquire of Rep. Kocot for his feedback.

Application for Davis Foundation funding:
Motion for the Network to apply for Davis Foundation funding for FY18: Steve Huntley
Seconded: Gerry McCafferty
All in favor

Next meeting date:
July 27, 10 am- 12 noon
Greenfield, location TBD