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Author Archives: Pamela Schwartz

Veterans Committee Minutes – 3/14/19

In attendance: Steve Connor, Central Hampshire Veterans Services, Craig Deraway, Soldier On, Mike Hagmaier, Soldier On, Justin Maynard, VA, Gerry McCafferty, Hampden CoC, Emmanuel Owusu, Springfield veterans services, Jesus Pereira, Holyoke VSO, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Stephanie Shaw, Chicopee VSO, Kate Sweetseter-Owens, HUD-VASH, Susan White, VA, Ali Wilson-Pierce, HUD-VASH

Racial Equity in Ending Homelessness training: Pamela reported out on the first of a 3 part training that took place on March 7.  About 100 Network partners participated.  The trainer, Marc Dones, was extremely well-received and the feedback has been excellent.  The two other sessions will take place on April 25 and June 6. The presentation can be found by going to this link.

Network FY20 Budget and Legislative Priorities: Please click here for the Network budget priorities and here for the legislative priorities. Please contact Pamela if you are interested in participating or have any questions. 

Point in Time Count –
Update Hampden County: The 2019 Point in Time Count took place at the end of January.  25 veterans were identified as homeless, an increase from 19 last year (although the general analysis is the increase is a function of random circumstances that particular night since the number dropped to its previous year’s number shortly after the count). There were 4 veterans identified in the family system; otherwise most were in shelters and a small number unsheltered. There was great participation with the VSOs, police departments and Tapestry (especially notable was new partnerships in Holyoke).  

Springfield/Hampden CoC Built for Zero update:  There is a real focus on veterans to demonstrated that getting to “functional zero” is possible.  The largest remaining challenge is housing non-VA eligible veterans. The CoC is continuing to await final VA approval of the Memorandum that will allow the use of HUD-VASH vouchers for 13 non-VA eligible veterans. Meanwhile, systems for quick identification of veteran status and referral at emergency shelters continue to improve and get further refined. A long-term chronically homeless veteran (lived on the streets over 10 years) was just housed at Soldier On.  

There will be a cross-check between the PIT count and the by-name list to see where veterans exist on one list but not the other, and will try to close the gap.
 
3 County CoC Point in Time Count Update
22 unsheltered individuals identified
1 veteran among them
Due to the transition taking place between the CoC lead – from Hilltown CDC to Community Action – there are data systems in transition as well, so more complete data on the PIT count is delayed. 

Integrating veterans into coordinated entry:
We discussed the conversation between CoC leads and DHCD regarding the process and allowability for changing tenant selection plans from first come-first serve to vulnerability based (and therefore capable of being incorporated into coordinated entry).  We got this guidance from DHCD:
DHCD, and CEDAC would both be open to amendments of tenant selection plans that would allow already existing properties with homeless units and with HIF and Home (and maybe others?) to utilize Coordinated Entry.  The process seems pretty straight forward – simply submit the amendment language to start the process. Owner(s) of the affordable housing project(s) should call DHCD and CEDAC first to discuss before putting in any labor revising their Tenant Selection Plan.  This is exciting progress and also only the start of figuring out the complexities of implementing coordinated entry with all veterans at Soldier On and elsewhere. We agreed we would have a follow-up meeting to flesh out some of the challenges. Pamela will reach out to Mike, Sue, Kate, Steve, Ali, Phyllis, Gerry and Sara to coordinate a convenient meeting date. 

VSO’s at Housing Courts: Steve Connor reported that VSO’s are going to housing courts and district courts across the region to be available with resources and support for veterans facing eviction. Good results! 

Other announcements:
Supplemental Security Income training – Monday, April 8, 9 am -12:30 pm, Holyoke Public Library, 250 Chestnut Street, Holyoke. Pamela reminded all of this upcoming training about how to access SSI to help end homelessness and how the benefit relates to eligibility for other resources.  Caitlin Thomas, an SSI disability expert, is leading the training, along with other partners.  Please email Caitlin directly at caitlinthomas@comcast.net to RSVP. 

Opioid Prevention and Treatment training: Wed., April 10, 9 am – 3 pm, Sheraton Springfield Hotel, Springfield, sponsored by the statewide Health Resources in Action. Promising policies and practices will be shared around the topic of opioid overdoes prevention, responses and postvention. Register  here

SAVE THE DATE: The Network’s 3rd Annual Housing/Homelessness Resource Fair for Providers – Monday, June 10, 9 am – 12:30 pm, Holyoke Community College.  We will be inviting our Western MA legislative delegation to attend from 9:30 am – 10:00 am for a welcome and acknowledgment of their support of our efforts. To register to attend: go here. To register to request table space to share resources: go here
Next meeting date: Thursday May 16, 9:30-11 am, Frost 309, HCC

Family Services Committee Minutes – 3/12/19

In attendance: Nicole Blais, Head Start – HCS (Holyoke, Chicopee, Springfield), Marianne Bouthilette Community Action Head Start, Rebecca Burgos, West Springfield Public Schools, Christine Cullen, Holyoke Chicopee Family and Community Program (CFCE), Sara Cummings, Community Action, Dawn DiStefano, Square One, Rosemary Fiedler, HCC, Jennifer Gonzalez-Morales, Holyoke Public Schools, Brenda Garcia, BHN Holyoke FIT, Ryan Howard, HCS Head Start, Jane Lindfors, DTA-DV unit, June Lynds, Community Action Head Start, Luz Marcano, VA, Yeisie Mateo, DCF, Emily Magnifico, Hilltown Community Health Center, Heather Marshall, Elizabeth Freeman Center, Jocelyn Martinez, WomanShelter, Theresa Nicholson, CHD, Marilyn Nunez, VOC, Colleen O’Brien, BHN Early Intervention, Steve Plummer, Springfield Partners, Pamela Schwartz, Network,  Janna Tetrault, Community Action, Janette Vigo, Way Finders, Erica Zayas, VOC

Sign up for the 3rd Annual Housing and Homelessness Resource Fair for Providers on Monday, June 10, 9 am – 12:30 pm, Holyoke Community College. To register to attend: go here. To register to request table space to share resources: go here. 
Note: Western MA Legislators will be invited to attend from 9:30 to 10 am for welcoming comments.

Point in Time Count Update: Please click here for a summary of the Hampden County 2019 PIT data and here for additional breakdown on family data.   The Three County CoC data is in process (delayed due to transition between CoC leads, from Hilltown CDC to Community Action).

Racial Equity in Ending Homelessness training: Pamela reported out on the first of a 3 part training that took place on March 7.  About 100 Network partners participated.  The trainer, Marc Dones, was extremely well-received and the feedback has been excellent.  The presentation can be found by going to this link.

There are 2 other sessions in April and June and Pamela reported the Network’s commitment to continue this work for the duration of the Network. The next 2 sessions will address more concrete actions we can take.  Pamela will continue to report back. 

Head Start and child care discussion:Thanks to our Head Start partners in the region for attending to let us know about their programs and their prioritization process for children experiencing homelessness.  The national group Schoolhouse Connections has launched a campaign to engage with Head Start programs around enrolling more children and families experiencing homelessness.
We learned the following: 

  • homelessness receives a priority for all Head Start programs
  • Holyoke/Chicopee/Springfield Head Start (covers 15 communities) tries to reserve 3% for homeless families; Community Action Head Start (covers from Ware to Turners Falls to West Springfield to Northampton and Amherst) has a point system to determine priority status and just changed their policies to provide more points when homeless
  • infant/todder programs are likely to have longer wait lists.  Otherwise, frequently openings on a rolling basis
  • They address transportation challenges and will do home visits at shelters
  • They will get data on # of children experiencing homelessness in their program for next meeting
  • Square One is not a Head Start program – only offers state vouchers, but the programs work closely together. They are always full but they refer to each other.
  • Recent policy changes – as of March 1 –  in state child care voucher are significant! (1) for “homelessness vouchers” DHCD referral for voucher is no longer required. DHCD and DCF – DV –  funded shelters can refer directly – this is a huge advance in streamlining paperwork; and (2) for “income eligible” vouchers homelessness itself is now considered a “service need” for purposes of establishing eligibility  (where previously a family had to demonstrate 30 hours of other activity)

The group agreed it would be useful to hold a training for front line staff on these state regulatory changes and Head Start.  Pamela will follow-up in the coming weeks.

Coordinated Family and Community Engagement Grants (CFCE): We also discussed this state-funded program that exists in every city and town in the Commonwealth.  The grant is held by different entities, most commonly in schools, sometimes in Head Start programs. The goal is to strength all families and child development for children from birth to age 8.  The group agreed that family shelters could benefit from support in better connecting to this resource. 
Pamela will follow-up with regional CFCE coordinator to pursue a meeting opportunity. 

Other announcements: Network FY20 Budget and Legislative Priorities: Please click here for the Network’s budget priorities and here for the Network’s legislative priorities that will be discussed with legislators and Network partners over the coming weeks.  Please contact Pamela if you are interested in participating or have any questions. 

Supplemental Security Income training – Monday, April 8, 9 am -12:30 pm, Holyoke Public Library, 250 Chestnut Street, Holyoke. Pamela reminded all of this upcoming training about how to access SSI to help end homelessness and how the benefit relates to eligibility for other resources.  Caitlin Thomas, an SSI disability expert, is leading the training, along with other partners.  Please email Caitlin directly at caitlinthomas@comcast.net to RSVP. 

Opioid Prevention and Treatment training: Wed., April 10, 9 am – 3 pm, Sheraton Springfield Hotel, Springfield, sponsored by the statewide Health Resources in Action. Promising policies and practices will be shared around the topic of opioid overdoes prevention, responses and postvention. Register  here

Next meeting date: Tuesday, April 9, 11-12:30, Frost Building, Room 309, Holyoke Community College

CHAPA Breakfast Forum: Meeting the Housing Shortage for People with Extremely Low-Income – April 3, 9:30 am – 11:30 am, Boston

Wednesday, April 3rd
9:30 AM–11:30 AM
(Registration begins at 9:00 AM)MassHousing
One Beacon Street, 4th Floor
Boston, MA 02108

Please join CHAPA, MetroHousing|Boston, and Homes for Families for our Breakfast Forum: Meeting the Housing Shortage for People with Extremely Low Incomes

The Metropolitan Area Planning Council projects that Massachusetts needs to produce more than 500,000 new homes by 2040 to support the Commonwealth’s existing job base. But how much of this new housing will be affordable to those with extremely low incomes?

New research from the New England Public Policy Center at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston highlights the current shortage of rental homes and rental housing available to households with extremely low incomes. Nick Chiumenti, author of this research, will discuss his findings. Following his presentation, we will explore policies, programs, tools, and strategies for producing homes that are affordable to people with extremely low incomes.

Tickets are limited and you must register for this breakfast forum by April 1st.

Cost: $25.00 for CHAPA members / $40.00 for non-members. No refunds will be provided to those who register but do not attend the forum.

3 County Individual Services Meeting Minutes – 3/11/19

Note:The Network’s 3rd Annual Housing/Homelessness Resource Fair for Providers – Monday, June 10, 9 am – 12:30 pm, Holyoke Community College:
To register to attend: go here.
To register to request table space to share resources: go here

In attendance: Elizabeth Bienz, ServiceNet, Steve Connor, Veterans Services, Sara Cummings, Community Action, Eleanor Dodson, ServiceNet, Julie Federman, Town of Amherst, Erin Forbush, ServiceNet, Andy Klatka, Eliot CHS Homeless Services, Lisa Goldsmith, Community Action, Jay Levy, Eliot Services, Jade Lovett, Craig’s Doors, Katie Miernecki, ServiceNet, Theresa Nicholson, Center for Human Development, Aidan Novo, Craig’s Doors, Brendan Plante, Eliot Services, Mena Regan, CHD, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Kate Shapiro, DMH, Michael Trembley, ServiceNet, Hayley Wood, Easthampton Council on Aging, Josh Wren, ServiceNet

Coordinated Entry update: currently on hold as the transition between CoCs has created some complications. Community Action is working on it and will keep us all posted.

Shelter Plus Care beds: we learned more as a group from both DMH and ServiceNet about how these beds are allocated. They are funded with CoC dollars through ServiceNet. Eligibility for the housing subsidy requires DMH eligibility (for support services). The challenge can happen in the process of obtaining DMH eligibility. This is a statewide issue, not unique to the 3 county region. Right now there are possibly 2 shelter plus care vouchers available which are not being utilized b/c of the gap in DMH eligibility. We agreed we would discuss this more as a sub-group. Pamela will reach out to Erin Forbush, Jay Levy, Theresa Nicholson Elizabeth Bienz, Chris Zabik, Kate Shaprio and Dan Bustler (sp?) to participate in this meeting.

SMOC housing units in Easthampton: We followed up after the last meeting regarding vacancies in these units. Various partners reached out and Pamela received an update prior to this meeting from SMOC that reported significant progress in filling the vacancies. There are currently 5 units out of total 11 that are still available and receiving applications. We agreed to stay in touch on this and hope for quick filling of vacancies.

Racial Equity in Ending Homelessness training: Pamela reported out on the first of a 3 part training that took place on March 7. About 100 Network partners participated. The trainer, Marc Dones, was extremely well-received and the feedback has been excellent. The presentation can be found by going to this link.

There are 2 other sessions in April and June and Pamela reported the Network’s commitment to continue this work for the duration of the Network. The next 2 sessions will address more concrete actions we can take. Pamela will continue to report back.

Network FY20 budget and legislative priorities: Click here for the FY20 Budget Priorities and here for the FY20 legislative priorities. The Network is scheduling meetings with Western MA legislators across the region to discuss its FY20 budget and legislative priorities. Please contact Pamela Schwartz at pschwartz@westernmasshousingfirst.org if you are interested in seeing the schedule and participating in any meetings.

Supplemental Security Income training – Monday, April 8, 9 am -12:30 pm, Holyoke Public Library, 250 Chestnut Street, Holyoke. Pamela reminded all of this upcoming training about how to access SSI to help end homelessness and how the benefit relates to eligibility for other resources. Caitlin Thomas, an SSI disability expert, is leading the training, along with other partners. Please email Caitlin directly at caitlinthomas@comcast.net to RSVP.

Opioid Prevention and Treatment training: Wed., April 10, 9 am – 3 pm, Sheraton Springfield Hotel, Springfield, sponsored by the statewide Health Resources in Action. Promising policies and practices will be shared around the topic of opioid overdoes prevention, responses and postvention. Register here

Shelter updates: Grove Street, Cot Shelter, Craig’s Doors – all shelters are full (over-full) with wait lists.

Big picture discussion on meeting structure/location, etc.
The group checked in on how best to promote our goals of advancing our regional model of Housing First, including diversion, harm reduction and housing focused, all within the coordinated entry system. Jade shared the challenge of limited staff capacity alongside a desire to participate in the regional effort. In addition to their seasonal shelter, they are running a rapid rehousing program, case management, community breakfasts and a daytime resource center. We agreed that the OrgCode trainings were very useful. ServiceNet shared that they are in the process of implementing changes that were reflected in the trainings. Erin noted the variations within each county and the need to account for them in the change process. We agreed it would be useful to spend time as a group sharing more on this process. We acknowledged that the transition between CoC leads offers both a short-term challenge and opportunity for the long-term. We affirmed meeting continuing to meet at our regularly scheduled time and place for now.

Next meeting date: Monday, April 8, 1 pm, ServiceNet, 296 Nonotuck Street, Northampton

Career Services Committee Minutes- 3/11/19


In attendance: Luis Arzola, CHD, Holly Florek, CHD, Jeff Hayden, HCC, Gladys Lebron, MassHire Holyoke, Justin Maynard, VA, Maegan Pedemonti, Way Finders, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Alyce Styles, GCC (on phone)

Career Services Fair (2/15/19) Debrief:
Everyone agreed it was a successful event! Good turn-out (about 40 people attended); good information (about 15 providers offered information); good energy. We agreed offering this annually (in between the annual resource fair) is something we should continue to do,

Heartland Alliance grant opportunity:
Maegan updated the group about Heartland’s “Pathways Forward Challenge” grant – a 2.5 year, $75-$100K grant that will be offered to 5 communities nationwide that are committed to system change around employment and homelessness. The grant specifically targets individuals who are NOT prioritized for available housing services (e.g.,NOT families with access to HomeBASE or chronically homeless individuals with access to PSH). It does not pay for programs or services, but instead would support staff (part of a position) to support the data-oriented bridge building necessary to better connect systems.

Way Finders is going to be the lead applicant for Hampden County (there is not currently capacity for this to extend to the 3 county region, although there is the promise of gaining pilot project support that can extend into the 3 county area). Way Finders is working with Springfield Works and the City of Springfield and will reach out to the MassHires and community colleges. They met with Friends of the Homeless – where there is a target population of not-chronically homeless individuals in need of both housing and employment support. FOH is pleased to partner on this project.

Way Finders will look at its Secure Jobs model – flexible dollars with wrap-around support – this time using its SNAP employment and training dollars to support the programming.

Network FY20 budget and legislative priorities: Click here for the FY20 Budget Priorities and here for the FY20 legislative priorities.
The Network is scheduling meetings with Western MA legislators across the region to discuss its FY20 budget and legislative priorities. Please contact Pamela if you are interested in seeing the schedule and participating in any meetings.

Other Updates:
Secure Jobs: Maegan reported they reached a milestone of placing 650 individuals into employment since the program began 2013. Congratulations!

DHCD is allocating 50 MRVP vouchers to Secure Jobs participants who have been employed for at least 6 months. These vouchers will be administered by lottery, 10 at a time, over the next 2 years. Way Finders will submit individuals into the lottery – anyone who has received employment services under Secure Jobs can qualify. Refer to Maegan.

Learn to Earn and TRAIN grants are continuing to enroll and launch cohorts. Contact Jeff Hayden or Kermit Dunkelberg (HCC) or Alyce Stiles (GCC) for more information.

GCC and MassHire Franklin and Hampshire Career Center are sponsoring their annual career services fair on Thursday, April 11, 10 am- 1 pm, GCC. https://www.gcc.mass.edu/events/career-job-fair/


Next quarterly meeting date: While initially scheduled for June 17, it has been rescheduled to June 24. Holyoke Public Library, 1st floor conference room.

Opioid Training (4/11) and SSI Benefits Training (4/8)

Please take note of these training opportunities in the region:

Homeless Provider Summit on the Opioid Epidemic: Wed., April 10, 9 am to 3 pm, Sheraton Springfield Hotel, Springfield. Sponsored by the statewide Health Resources in Action. Promising policies and practices will be shared around the topic of opioid overdose prevention, response and postvention. The Summit is free to attend so please register to share this email with your colleagues. Registration is limited to 5 individuals per organization. Register here. Questions email: njones@hria.org phone: 617.279.2240 ext. 599

SSI and SSDI Benefits and Ending Homelessness Training Monday, April 8, 9 am – 12:30 pm, Holyoke Public Library, first floor community room, 250 Chestnut Street, Holyoke: SSI expert Caitlin Thomas and colleagues will provide information on best practices for working with medical providers and the Social Security Administration to help support claims and better health outcomes, including stable housing.
RSVP to Caitlin at caitlinthomas@comcast.net with your name, number attending, organization’s name and your email contact info.


DATE CHANGE for Opioid Forum from April 11 to Sept. 6

Since the blog posting on this forum last week, the date has been changed from April 11 to September 6. The notice from Mass. Health Policy Forum is below:

The date of the forum, “Addressing the Opioid Crisis in Small and Rural Communities in Western Massachusetts,” is changing from Thursday, April 11th to Friday, September 6th. The event’s venue will remain the same at the UMass Amherst Campus Center.

This forum will focus on the numerous ways in which the opioid crisis has impacted Western Massachusetts, with particular attention paid to the social and economic consequences on employers and small and rural communities. Unique challenges and innovative solutions will be highlighted. A detailed agenda and email invitation will be distributed shortly.


Date: Friday, September 6, 2019

Time: 8:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Location: Amherst Room (10th Floor), Campus Center, 1 Campus Center Way, Amherst, MA

CHAPA’s 2019 Housing Day at the State House

CHAPA invites you:

Please join CHAPA for our 4th Housing Day at the State House on Monday, March 11th, 2019 at the MA State House Great Hall, 9:30-1:30 pm. This is an important opportunity for housing advocates to come together to meet with legislators to promote the policies and resources that will help every family in Massachusetts have a safe, healthy, and affordable place to call home!

At Housing Day, we will advocate for legislation and programs to produce and preserve affordable housing. Our priorities for Housing Day 2019 include CHAPA’s FY2020 Budget Priorities and CHAPA’s 2019-2020 Legislative Agenda.

A speaking program will begin at 9:30 a.m. (breakfast will be provided) when we will hear from legislators and housing leaders. This will be followed by meetings with legislators between 11:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m. (lunch provided for those staying for meetings) that CHAPA can help arrange for attendees or these meetings can be coordinated independently.

Registration is required to coordinate meetings with legislators. Please register here.

If you have any questions, or if your organization would like to be a cosponsor, please contact Eric Shupin at eshupin@chapa.org.

If you would like to carpool from the Western region, contact Pamela Schwartz at pschwartz@westernmasshousingfirst.org and she will assist with connecting people.