Author Archives: Pamela Schwartz

Family Services Meeting Minutes – 7/11/17

Family Services Committee Meeting Minutes

In attendance:  Jesus Arce, City of Springfield, Jane Banks, CHD, Shelly Benoit, BHN, Yoshi Bird, YWCA, Joel Cox, PFC/NEFWC, Anthia Elliott, Safe Passage, Holly Florek, CHD, Jane Lindfors, DTA-DV unit, Luis Martinez, CHD, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Katherine Oquendo, PFC/NEFWC, Jenni Pothier, TPP, Yarelles Rivera, PFC/NEFWC, Pamela Schwartz, Network, TJ Steele, Springfield Partners, Janna Tetreault, Community Action, Luz Vega, WomanShelter, Janette Vigo, Way Finders, Lauren Voyer, Way Finders

FY18 Budget Update:

The group reviewed the Conference Committee budget outcomes (click here for a breakdown in relation to Network priorities). The outcomes are mixed, e.g., big loss on youth funding and Secure Jobs; some gains on RAFT and TPP. The Governor is now within his 10 day period to decide any vetoes.  Pamela will keep the group posted.

Family homelessness data update:

Pamela shared some of the data from the monthly DHCD reports required by the legislature. Click here for more information.

Donna shared that Western and Central MA (her region) re-housed 82 families in the month of June alone, a fantastic accomplishment and the highest in the state.  Reasons named for this success include: great case managers, housing staff, effective use of DHCD’s Strategic Housing funds, and great relationships with landlords.  It was also noted that Eastern MA poses the additional challenge of higher housing costs (and many units in need of repair at the Boston Housing Authority).

Jane Banks pointed out that while it’s a great effort, there is still much progress to be made as area agencies are at roughly 70-75% of their re-housing goal for this fiscal year.  The hope is to apply lessons learned in the diversion effort to the re-housing effort to increase success even more.

An exciting new hire of one of our own at DHCD!
Jane Banks, after 19 years at CHD, has accepted a position as the new Assistant Undersecretary for the Division of Housing Stabilization.  Congratulations to Jane and to all of us in Western MA (and the Commonwealth!).  Jane shared a few thoughts about her incoming position, including the imminent focus on planning for the re-procurement of both the family and individual shelter system that is on deck for FY19.  Coordination and collaboration will feature prominently in the application process, as well as measurable goals.  Additionally, workforce development – how to help families reach a livable wage – will also be an area of focus.

This conversation was the segue into our next topic, which is:

Committee workplan/goals for FY18

The group agreed that using the Committee as a sounding board for the re-procurement process would be very useful.  Specifically, we discussed starting now to work on creating measurable goals that capture cross-system outcomes development.  Even more specifically, this goal was discussed in relation to the desire to create more efficient and effective collaboration between the DV and EA system and to quantify what that would look like.

We agreed to convene a sub-committee to begin planning for this work.  Pamela will follow-up with: Yoshi Bird, Jane Lindfors, Holly Florek, Anthia Elliot and we will report back at our next meeting.

Next meeting date:

Tuesday, Sept. 12, 9:30-11 am, Northampton Senior Center, 67 Conz Street, Northampton

Announcement: BHN’s Project FIT is open for referrals.  It provides wrap-around support services to families in housing crisis who have a behavioral health need.  Please click here for overview information and here for the referral form.

Secure Jobs Advisory Committee Minutes – 7/11/17

Secure Jobs Advisory Committee
July 11, 2017

In attendance: Bud Delphin, CareerPoint, Madeline Martinez, Way Finders, Johnny Miranda, Way Finders, Maegan Pedemonti, Way Finders, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Rep. Aaron Vega, Holyoke 

Progress Report:  The program met its own internal goal of 100 job placements in FY17.   Fantastic work! Congratulations!

Click here for further breakdowns.

Maegan will be updating the housing retention data for FY17 in the next few weeks.

Rep. Vega suggested breaking out the data to compare the housing outcomes for families who receive HomeBASE or shelter without Secure Jobs assistance and those who do, i.e., the difference Secure Jobs makes.  Maegan said she can pull that out in her analysis.

We also discussed the value of more closely understanding the breakdown between full and part-time employment; the numbers who began in part-time and evolved to full-time; and/ the numbers who needed to work only part-time in order to avoid the “cliff effect” (loss of other benefits with too much income).  Rep. Vega underscored how valuable it would be to collect data regarding the cliff effect and how it impacts the people the program serves.

We will check back in on this data at our next meeting.

CareerPoint Update: – Bud provided an update on various programs, including:

the Disability Employment Institute for youth ages 14 -24 years.  It is a 3 year grant, in partnership with FutureWorks, that provides a wide range of services to a wide range of individuals (it is self-attested disability).

Ticket to Work program, which is a program to assist people on SSI/SSDI to create a path to employment without risking loss of income through loss of benefits (a slow and steady path). a

Workforce Investment Opportunity Act: training funds are now available through WIOA – eligible adults include low-income and dislocated workers

Bud also reported on the increased collaboration between CareerPoint and FutureWorks, including a regional approach with businesses, the creation of a regional talent bank, and a shared triage process to determine job readiness and best matches for available positions.  This is a great development!

FY18 State Budget Update:

The Conference Committee completed its budget and unfortunately cut funding for Secure Jobs from $800,000 last year to $650,000 in FY18.  The budget now awaits the Governor’s signature or vetoes.  The budget also moved the program to DTA.  Maegan reported her understanding that DTA was likely to apportion funding equally across all 7 programs statewide as opposed to on a performance basis (less advantageous to our program since we are a very high performer).

However, despite this cut, Way Finders is leveraging its resources internally to keep the program intact and growing.  A new employment specialist has been hired (internally) and they are now integrating RAFT, Stabilization and Secure Jobs in a way that maximizes the combination of workforce development and financial literacy skill development.

The one clear consequence of this state funding loss is the lack of capacity to expand Secure Jobs funding in the Three County region.

Also click here for the breakdown of the Conference Committee budget in relation to all Network priorities.

Homelessness Resource Fair:  The group exchanged on the success of this year’s fair and Pamela shared Holyoke Community College’s offer of space for next year.  We have set a date: Thursday, June 14, 2018, 9 am – 1 pm.  We will have the Kittredge Center’s multi-purpose room and 4 classrooms for break-out sessions.

Hampden County training/resource sharing? Rep. Vega noted his attendance at a legislative breakfast offered at Way Finders where WF walked through all of its resources.  He was very impressed and suggested that a similar sharing – with other partners – could be useful to people across the region.  We discussed further and the group agreed to plan for a training/orientation in October.  Pamela will follow-up after Maegan returns from vacation in early August and we will be prepared to talk further at our Sept. meeting and set a date for October.

Next meeting date: Wed., 9/6, 11 am, Holyoke Public Library (subject to confirmation)

Individual Services Meeting Minutes – 7/6/17

Individual Services Meeting
July 6, 2018
In attendance: Steve Connor, Veterans Services, Sam Cunningham, ServiceNet, Janice Humason, Friends of the Homeless, Charlie Knight, Rainville, Terry Maxey, SMOC, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield/CoC (by phone), Katie Miernecki, ServiceNet, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Digno Ortiz, Friends of the Homeless, Bianca Roberson, Open Door, Christina Ruest, Friends of the Homeless, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Stephanie Tonelli, Friends of the Homeless, Rachel Weiss, Craigs Doors
Youth Initiative update:
Gerry provided the background: Hampden County CoC applied to HUD last year for funding for a special initiative to end youth homelessness.  The CoC did not get funded but it scored high enough to be eligible to receive HUD Technical Assistance now to start a planning process to apply for funding in the next round.  The funds will serve youth ages 18-24  at risk or experiencing homelessness.
The first kick-off session will take place at the next unaccompanied homeless youth committee meeting on:
Wed., July 12
9:30 am – 11 am
Springfield Municipal Building
70 Tapley Street, Springfield

All are welcome and please spread the word!
Built for Zero Learning Session:
Gerry reported that the second session is Sept 5-6 in Chicago. The first session was in Washington, DC in April where the group produced a 4 month timeline to reduce chronic homelessness through increased housing placements and system change to make placement quicker and easier. In June, 8 chronically homeless individuals were housed, one of the highest numbers ever and the numbers are looking very promising for July and August.  We will have a more complete report at our next meeting.
6 people attended DC’s session, representatives from Friends of the Homeless, Mental Health association, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services and Health Care for the Homeless.  There may be space for one or two more people in September but funding is unclear.
mostly people at the last session  possibly a person or two more if a person really wants to come – key issue is whether there is funding
Discussion of committee meeting value and content going forward:
Pamela updated the group on a conversation she and Gerry had several weeks prior regarding checking in with the larger group on how our committee meetings were going.  We thought this would be useful as we start the new fiscal year.  People shared the following feedback about the meetings:
  • they are a great way to get a broader view of what’s happening across the region, e.g., what’s happening with the youth initiative.
  • they are a great way to share across the two CoC’s; to see what’s working and what’s not and to have an opportunity to share
  • they are an important opportunity to hear what’s happening at shelters across the region
There was unanimity around these values.
Gerry raised the desire to use these meetings to discuss the progress around the Built for Zero initiative but was concerned that it would be too Hampden County focused for the group as a whole.  The group discussed this and decided that it would be valuable to all across the region to learn from this effort.  It was decided to structure to the meetings so that when they occurred in Hampden County, the agenda would have as its primary focus this Hampden County effort; and conversely when the meetings were in the Three County region (Northampton), the agenda would focus on Three County efforts.  However, at both meetings, the agenda would always include shelter and any related updates for the entire region.
Shelter updates:
Northampton: Katie reported that the cot shelter is closed for the season; the resource center is very busy, roughly 25 people coming in the mornings (afternoons are by appointment only); Grove Street shelter is over-full right now.
Craig’s Doors (Amherst): Rachel reported that they just opened a new Resource Center.  It is open Mon, Tues, Thurs, 8 am – 3 pm, Wed., 10 am – 3 pm, located next to the church in a re-purposed trailer.  Congratulations on this development!
Friends of the Homeless: Janice reported that capacity averaged about 152 people in June.  Last summer too there was not a significant decrease in shelter demand.
All shelter providers noted an up-tick in demand for shelter among women. The group noted that it could be useful to track and discuss this issue and possible responses.
Next meeting dates:
Thursday, August 4, 9:30-11, Northampton Senior Center
Thursday, Sept. 14, 10:30-noon, Friends of the Homeless (note: usual first Thursday in Sept. is delayed by a week due to Learning Session in Chicago)

Conference Committee Budget Outcomes

The Conference Committee released its budget last Friday, July 7.  For Network priorities, the news is mixed.

First, the good (or at least not bad) news:

  • Tenancy Preservation Project received an additional $125,000 in funding (up to $625,000) as compared to FY17.
  • Our regional earmarks were funded, including Craig’s Doors at $200,000, Berkshire Regional Housing Authority at $150,000 and the Network itself at $125,000.
  • RAFT funding increased $2 million from FY17, up to $15 million and includes $2 million expansion of households to include individuals.
  • Housing Consumer Education Centers (HCECs), through its own line-item and funding through another Foreclosure Counseling line-item will stay essentially level-funded.
  • Individual shelter funding is basically level-funded (an increase of 1.7%).
  • Mass Rental Voucher Program is funded at $92.7m, up from the $86.5m figure of FY17 but markedly down from the House and Senate $100m proposals and below the Governor’s proposal of $97.5m.
  • Home and Healthy for Good received essentially level-funding with a $40,000 increase.

The bad news:

  • Youth services funding was cut $1.325m, down to $675,000 for FY18.
  • Secure Jobs was cut $150,000, down to $650,000 for FY18.
  • Local Consortiums received no funding at all (already determined by House and Senate budgets of 0 funding).

To see an excel spreadsheet on Network priorities and the FY18 budget proposals, go here.

After passing both chambers late Friday afternoon, Governor Baker now has 10 days for his signature or vetoes.