Author Archives: Pamela Schwartz

Family Homelessness Retreat – 2/14/17

On Feb. 14, the Network’s Family Services Committee convened a Family Homelessness Retreat.     We had 33 people in the room, including DHCD Undersecretary Rose Evans, Fireman Foundation Special Initiatives Director Sue Beaton and representatives from other state agencies and providers across housing, health care, education, and more from each of our four counties.

It was a great day of learning and brainstorming and prioritizing.  You can read the details of our discussion in the meeting minutes here.

Hampden County CoC Administrator and City of Springfield Housing Director Gerry McCafferty produced an impressive map of our family homelessness system for our review and discussion. You can find it – along with Hampden County data that informed our discussion – here.  If you have comments or feedback, please email Gerry directly at

Finally, for your convenience, below is the immediate priority decided upon at the meeting:

What can we do within the next 4 months?

The group agreed to focus its energies on convening a regional “surge event” that offered both information sharing around resources and relationship building across the region.  The group agreed that this was a critical starting point to making broader system change: knowing all the resources that currently exist to serve families in housing crisis, who the people and agencies are that are offering them and how best to access them.  The 33 people in the room identified gaps of knowledge among each other and decided well-planned information sharing within this community for themselves and others in the provider realm was the best place to start.  There was unanimous (and hand-raised!) agreement to commit time and energy to a successful event.

We agreed to continue the planning for this event at our next family services meeting on March 14, 1 pm – 2:30 pm, at  Center for Human Development, 51 Capital Drive, West Springfield.

We look forward to seeing many of you there!

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting Minutes – 2/15/17

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting
February 15, 2017

In attendance: Jesus Arce, Springfield Office of Housing, Katrina Colon, STCC, Jenny Davila, CHD, Courtnee Godbolt, Friends of the Homeless, Lisa Goldsmith, DIAL/SELF, Rebecca Guinard, STCC, Natalie Hill, Gandara Center, Charlie Knight, Rainville, Kim Majewski, Gandara Center, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Jen Wands, Springfield Public Schools

Gandara Center Update (Hampden County CoC):
All rapid rehousing units full – 18 young adults living in apartments (subsidized for one year with slow reduction in subsidy as young adults raise their income)
1 youth in host home; 3 openings (predictably under-utilized due to nature of arrangement)
SHINE transitional housing (8 units; HUD funding ends September 30)
4 more units coming on line once additional state funding finalized

Discussion of program orientation: increasing income vs. increasing education. The group discussed the trade-off of short-term vs. long-term sustainability as the focus of the RRH program is on building economic self-sufficiency as opposed to attaining higher education. Right now, the program is primarily focused on employment in order to meet the immediate demand of housing costs.   We agreed that it would be worthwhile to focus on the question of whether there are ways to navigate this tension in order to support long-term economic gain. We will pick up this topic at the next meeting.

Point in Time Count:
Gandara coordinated 2 events, one at STCC and the other at Dunbar High School. Due to some administrative barriers at STCC, very little notice was provided. 15 or 16 individuals came to the event and just a couple met the criteria of homeless. The Dunbar event had fewer people and unclear whether anyone met the criteria.

CHD coordinated an event at HCC with 19 people attending and 2 meeting the criteria of homelessness.

DIAL/SELF Update (3 County):
The program is currently working with 75 people; 15 are being actively subsidized across the region, including Northampton, Easthampton, Greenfield, etc. Berkshire County is gearing up with a full-time staff person. There is an Americorp volunteer providing additional support to case managers.

Subsidies are provided as a stabilization resource for 3-6 months. Participants can apply to have subsidies renewed at the end of 3 months. This has occurred a few times thus far.

Statewide Demonstration Project Work Group:
Lisa provided an update on the group’s progress. The survey of all the projects is almost done and the information looks good so far. The next meeting is on March 3, where they will consider how to distribute the information. The intention is to use this document as an advocacy tool to better inform legislators about the impact of the program.

We agreed that our data collection and analysis are critical to understanding the program’s efficacy. We will pick up this topic at the next meeting with Gerry’s draft template.

Family Homelessness Retreat Update:
Pamela reported on the family homelessness retreat that took place on Tuesday, 2/14 at UMass Springfield. 35 people attended from across the four counties and many cross-sectors of service (housing, health care, child care providers; state agencies). The group agreed to move forward with a “surge event” for providers to better understand the services that are available to respond to families in housing crisis. We will be continuing this planning at our next family services meeting on 3/14.

Schools update:
Jen Wand of Springfield public schools reported that there are currently 955 homeless students in the public school system; 20 are unaccompanied homeless youth, although this number is widely acknowledged to be under-counted. Springfield schools has just stared a youth mentor program with Behavioral Health Network. In Holyoke, Rebecca Chavierri reported that Holyoke schools have counted 8 students as unaccompanied homeless youth but this is also understood to be an undercount.

Next meeting: Wed., March 15, 9:30 am, Gandara Center, 1236 Main Street, Holyoke

Agenda items:

  • Data template review (what do we want to know to evaluate the programs’ success and challenges and to better understand the population the programs are serving)
  • Discussion of rapid re-housing program balancing of goals between employment (immediate income) and higher education (longer-term higher income/job satisfaction)

Secure Jobs Meeting Minutes – 2/8/17

Secure Jobs Advisory Committee
February 8, 2016

In attendance:   Ashley Brehm, HAPHousing, Bud Delphin, CareerPoint, Madeline Martinez, HAPHousing, Chris Montemayor, HAPHousing, Maegan Pedemonti, HAPHousing, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Maracelli Serrano, BerkshireWorks

January Progress Report (click here):
Hampden County: Job placements are almost double the goal (61 placements to date)
Shared individual success story (click ) – congratulations were shared on the great work.
Franklin/Hampshire: 3 enrollments
Berkshire County: 4 referrals, 1 enrollment

Mayor meeting updates:

 Holyoke: In attendance were Mayor Morse, Ashley Brehm, Bud Delphin, Steve Huntley, Pamela Schwartz. It was a good discussion around possible opportunities for partnerships, specifically with regard to culinary arts. Ashley is in the process of scheduling a follow-up meeting with Alicia Zoeller, Holyoke CDGB director and liaison to the culinary programs.

Springfield: In attendance were Economic Development Director Kevin Kennedy, Housing Director Gerry McCafferty, Ashley Brehm, Kevin Lynn and Pamela Schwartz. The meeting offered an opportunity to update around the SJ program, although feedback from the City was limited in terms of possible liaisons or partnerships for job opportunities. They recommended we reach out to the REB.

Maegan discussed her outreach to direct program leaders at the REB, e.g., the point person for the health care initiative and making good contacts for job and training opportunities. The group agreed that this path is a promising one, and Maegan will continue the outreach with other initiatives such as manufacturing.

The group also agreed that outreach with FutureWorks has been productive, with a more direct link now established for sharing info and job opportunities. Outreach with STCC has also produced the same good pathways.

Chicopee – In attendance were Economic Development Director Mike Vedovelli and CDGB director Kathleen Lingenburg, Ashley Brehm, Steve Huntley, Pamela Schwartz. An exciting connection was made between Secure Jobs and Chicoopee’s new CDGB funded Business Assistance program for businesses within a particular downtown business district. Mike and Kathleen suggested that explicit encouragement could be made to businesses receiving funds (for capital improvements or expansion) to utilize Secure Jobs support to fulfill their requirements to provide employment opportunities to low-income individuals. Ashley is following up with Chicopee staff to solidify next steps.

Outreach to Senator Lesser: Maegan updated the group on its statewide Secure Jobs call, including the advocacy for FY18 funding. The statewide coalition is seeking $2 million to fully fund the program (the Governor’s FY18 budget included $800,000, level-funded compared to FY17). It was suggested on the call that outreach to Senator Lesser would be an important step towards advancing a broader base of Western MA support for the program. The group agreed to have Pamela reach out to Senator Lesser to try to schedule a meeting date. It was acknowledged that this meeting, while focused on Secure Jobs, would also include note of the Network’s other FY18 budget priorities since it is likely the Network will have only one meeting through the budget process.

Meeting schedule and next meeting date:
We agreed to experiment with meeting every other month, providing virtual updates by email in between. Therefore our next meeting will be on:

Wednesday, April 5
11 am – 12:15 pm
Holyoke Public Library
250 Chestnut Street