Author Archives: Pamela Schwartz

Hampden County Individual Services Minutes – 5/22/18

Hampden County Individual Services Meeting Minutes – 5/22/18
 
In attendance: Gechar Aquino, Friends of the Homeless, Olivia Bernstein, Mental Health Association, Jessica Dorman, Mercy Medical, Dave Havens, Mental Health Association, Sarah Hills, Eliot Services, Janice Humason, FOH, Nichole King, FOH, Todd Koniezhny, Jenifer Lucca, Samaritan Inn, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Digno Ortiz, FOH, John Pagliar, Mercy Medical, Herschelle Reeves, BHN, Keith Rhone, FOH, Denise Rivera, FOH, Laura Robertson, Catholic Charities, Christina Ruest, FOH, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Stephanie Tonelli, FOH, Kimberly Wiggins, BHN
 
 
Data Review:  We reviewed the Hampden County data produced as part of the Built for Zero campaign (click here ) that shows the in-flow vs. the out-flow and number of housing placements.  The group discussed the possible reasons for the increased in-flow in recent months, which included(1) the result of “word getting out” that entering the system leads to being housed – a consequence of “success” – so that people who have been chronically homeless are more willing to show up; and (2) better and more thorough outreach flowing from greater collaboration and community awareness.  The general sense was that the increased numbers were not a reflection of new people entering the region but a system better identifying who is there.
On the HMIS shelter data (click here), it was agreed that looking at this data monthly is useful in order to take stock as a group of the demand and any trends (while also recognizing that for FOH staff alone it is not so useful since it is largely their data).  It would be more useful if we could also look at it in relation to Hampshire County’s two shelters – Pamela will reach out to ServiceNet and Craig’s Doors (when in season) and continue to incorporate their shelter numbers in the review.
Gerry will adjust the spreadsheet so that we can see actual months (and probably show only 3-6 months as opposed to the whole year).
We agreed it would be most useful to look at the shelter numbers in relation to the housing numbers, i.e., are people coming into shelter being housed.
Resource Fair: Pamela reported that the Resource Fair has over 150 people registered to attend with 40 organizations tabling. People’s expressed interest in the workshop on housing chronically homeless individuals is high!  Please register if you haven’t already by going here: Registration Form
 
FY19 Budget Update: Pamela distributed information on the Senate budget amendments which are being debated this week.  Click here for CHAPA’s priority amendments.  Call/email your senator to ask for his/her support (on the Senate side, senators can sign-on to amendments up until the vote.  Find her your legislator here. If you are in Senator Rosenberg’s district, the other Western MA legislators have generously committed to representing your interests.  Call Senator Lesser, Senator Hinds or Senator Welch to request their co-sponsorship.
Additionally, Network priorities also include ABE/ESOL funding – Amendment #176 to increase funding from $31 to $33 million – and Secure Jobs funding – Amendment #525 to increase funding from $650,000 to $1 million. Senator Welch is already a co-sponsor for both Amendments (call to thank!) and the others should be contact to request their co-sponsorship.Next meeting date: Tuesday, June 26, 1 pm, Friends of the Homeless, 755 Worthington Street.

Senate Budget debate begins today! Call!

Senate Budget debate begins today.  Click here for CHAPA’s priority amendments.  Call/email your senator and ask for his/her support (on the Senate side, senators can sign-on to amendments up until the vote).  Find your legislator here.

If you are in Senator Rosenberg’s district, the other Western MA legislators have generously committed to representing your interests.  Call Senator Lesser, Senator Hinds or Senator Welch to let them know your requests for sponsorship.

Additionally, Network priorities also include ABE/ESOL funding – Amendment #176 to increase funding from $31 to $33 million – and Secure Jobs funding – Amendment #525 to increase funding from $650,000 to $1 million. Senator Welch is already a co-sponsor for both Amendments (call to thank!) and the others should be contacted to request their co-sponsorship.

Thanks for your advocacy!

 

 

 

Senate Advocacy for Economic Mobility Amendments

A message from On Solid Ground/CHAPA:

On May 10th, the Massachusetts Senate Committee on Ways and Means (SWM) released its FY2019 state budget proposal. The $41.2 billion budget includes many increased investments for education, affordable housing, homelessness prevention, and community development programs. Thanks to Chairwoman Karen Spilka for these investments. Click here for Mass Budget’s analysis of the MA Senate Budget

Amendments to the SWM budget have been filed. Click here to see OSG’s priority list of amendments to the SWM FY19 budget to support and further strengthen our economic mobility and homelessness prevention priorities. The Senate will debate and vote on its budget the week of May 21st.

Please call or email your State Senator TODAY to ask her or him to sign-on and support the following amendments for economic mobility and housing stability programs!

Click here to find your State Representative’s contact information.
Click here to see On Solid Ground’s advocacy priorities.

Follow us on twitter  @OSGMA to get updates on the House budget debate!


Call or Email to State Representative:

“Hello, I am [NAME] and I am from [CITY or TOWN] in the Senator’s district. Programs that support housing stability and economic mobility are important to me. I am requesting that the Senator sign on to the following amendments to prevent homelessness and build opportunity for Massachusetts residents. [LIST THE AMENDMENTS BELOW]. Thank you very much.”

LIST OF AMENDMENTS:

#797 – ECONOMIC MOBILITY AND STABILITY PROGRAM (NEW)
Senator Jamie Eldridge‘s amendment establishes a commission to study the numerous self-sufficiency programs operating in Massachusetts. Self-sufficiency or economic mobility programs offer a pathway for financial mobility for families with low incomes, help them get education, increase their incomes, build assets, and attain financial self-sufficiency. This commission would bring together stakeholders to:

  • Identify program components that help participants increase their incomes and become more stable in their housing;
  • Examine “cliff effects” and provide policy recommendations to ensure people increase their housing stability and economic mobility as their incomes increase, rather than being worse off as benefit programs decrease or end and their incomes aren’t enough to make ends meet; and
  • Determine ways to adjust assistance in response to changes in income tied to minimum wage increases.

#723 – HOMEBASE (7004-0108)
Sen. Crighton’s amendment helps families maintain housing stability after their HomeBASE assistance ends through the following program changes:

  • Allows for households to renew assistance without going through the eviction process when their incomes are insufficient to maintain their tenancies.
  • Ensures access to further assistance when families who have used HomeBASE can no longer afford their homes and are evicted through no fault of their own.
  • Increases funding to $35 million to cover the estimated costs of renewals.

#777 – MASSACHUSETTS RENTAL VOUCHER PROGRAM (7004-9024)
Sen. Joseph Boncore’s amendment increases funding to $120 million and makes the following important improvements to increase MRVP’s effectiveness:

  • Makes MRVP more usable by using current fair market rent standards;
  • Gets vouchers out faster by mandating a date by which DHCD issues new vouchers in FY19; and
  • Directs 75% of new vouchers to households with extremely low incomes.

#232 – EARLY EDUCATION SALARY RATE RESERVE (3000-1042)
Sen. Moore’s amendment funds the Center-Based Child Care Rate Increases. These increases in the rates the state pays to early education centers for each child in subsidized care can help facilitate improvements in salary, benefits, and working conditions for early education teachers.

#14 – EARNED INCOME TAX CREDIT (EITC) (NEW)
Senator Cynthia Creem’s amendment increases the state EITC to 50% of the federal EITC value from the 30% proposed in the Senate Ways & Means budget. The state EITC is an effective and efficient tax credit that improves health, rewards work, increases economic mobility, and reduces inequality.

Thank you for your consideration and please contact akurve@chapa.org with any questions you may have about these amendments or programs.

One-Minute Action Alert from the MA Coalition for the Homeless

From the MA Coalition for the Homeless:
Please take a minute to sign and share our latest online action to your State Senator to help improve the Senate version of the budget. The online action asks your Senator to cosponsor the three key homelessness amendments we highlighted in our last alert and to actively support them in caucuses, conversations with Senate Leadership, and debates.Our overview sheet for Senators is here.
Here are more details about the three amendments, including current cosponsors:
– Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children program (EAEDC): Senator Pat Jehlen filed Amendment #453 to remove the EAEDC homelessness penalty so that participants experiencing homelessness receive full monthly grants of $303.70/month instead of only $92.80/month. Based on FY’18 numbers year-to-date, an estimated 542 individuals would benefit each month from this change, at a cost of only $1.4 million/year. The amendment would add language to line item 4408-1000. Cosponsors as of yesterday at 4:30 p.m.: Senators Cyr, Eldridge, and Friedman. EAEDC amendment fact sheet
– Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT): We were thrilled to see that the SWM budget included the full recommended funding for RAFT of $18.5 million, as well as language to maintain access for elders, people with disabilities, and unaccompanied youth. We are working with Senator Jamie Eldridge, who filed Amendment #680 to tweak the language in line item 7004-9316 so that at least $3 million is set aside for households without children under the age of 21, instead of no more than $3 million.Cosponsors as of yesterday at 4:30 p.m.: Senators Cyr and Friedman RAFT amendment fact sheet
– Emergency Assistance family shelter program (EA): Senator Barbara L’Italien filed Amendment #533 to ensure that families with children that are experiencing homelessness can file in-person applications for family shelter with staff from the Department of Housing and Community Development in at least the ten cities and towns that had offices as of January 1, 2018. This is in response to efforts to shift to a more telephonically based system, which would present challenges to many families lacking access to phones, computers, scanners, and fax machines. The amendment would add language to the DHCD administrative line item, 7004-0099, to maintain in-person application sites (in addition to telephonic options). Cosponsors as of yesterday at 4:30 p.m.: Senators Eldridge, Friedman, and Lewis. EA amendment fact sheet
Rather call instead? The State House switchboard number is 617-722-2000. You also can look up who your Senator is viawww.wheredoivotema.com.
Our Senate amendment page has more details. The full Senate will debate the budget starting on Tuesday, May 22nd.
Please let us know if you receive any feedback from your Senator in response to your outreach.
Thanks for all of your efforts to strengthen access to homelessness prevention resources, housing, and benefits!
With gratitude,
Kelly
Kelly Turley
Associate Director