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Author Archives: Pamela Schwartz

FY20 House Budget and Network Priorities

Last week, the MA House of Representatives finalized its proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2020. The Network’s own FY20 priorities fared with mixed results. On the plus side, we saw increases in funding in the Homeless Individuals Assistance (emergency shelters), Housing Consumer Education Centers, the Alternative Housing Voucher Program (important housing subsidy for chronically homeless individuals), and the Mass Rental Voucher Program, as well as continued funding for Craig’s Doors shelter in Amherst.

On the minus side, the Network itself did not get funded, nor did the Berkshire Winter Overflow Shelter. Career Centers saw a reduction compared to FY19 funding. Click here for the comparative breakdown of the Network priorities in relation to the House and Governor’s budgets.

Next up is the Senate! The Senate Ways and Means Committee will likely release its proposed budget the week of May 6 with debate likely to take place the week of May 20. Please stay tuned for additional updates and opportunities for advocacy.

Meanwhile, please reach out to your Western MA Representative to thank them for their advocacy. We have a great team working for us out here!

CHAPA’s FY20 Budget Update

Note: The Network will provide an update on House Budget outcomes for its complete list of FY20 priorities within the next couple of days. For now, we are pleased to offer you this update from CHAPA, which includes many of the Network’s priorities as well:

Last week, the Massachusetts House of Representatives concluded debate on its FY2020 state budget. For a table showing the final funding amounts in the House Budget for CHAPA’s budget priorities, click here. During budget debate, the House approved additional funding for two programs:

Alternative Housing Voucher Program (AHVP) (7004-9030) – The House approved $400,000 more for AHVP, for a total of $7,550,000 for the program in the House budget, through an amendment sponsored by Rep. Decker.

Housing Consumer Education Centers (HCECs) (7004-3036) – The House approved $250,000 more for HCECs, for a total of $375,000 for the program in the House budget, through an amendment sponsored by Rep. Honan.

Thank you for all your advocacy during the budget debate! We gathered many co-sponsors, demonstrating broad support for these affordable housing and homelessness prevention programs. For a final look at the outcome of CHAPA’s amendment priorities, including the number of co-sponsors, please click here. If you can, please reach out to thank Speaker DeLeo, Rep. Michlewitz, Rep. Honan, Rep. Decker, and all amendment sponsors.

SAVE THE DATE – Wednesday, May 8th, 3:00-4:30 p.m.

We’ve heard that Senate Ways & Means may release its budget the week of May 6th. Amendments would be due by the end of that week with budget debate still scheduled for the week of May 20th. This would give the Senate a full week to consider amendments.

If that is the case, please hold Wednesday, May 8th, 3:00-4:30 p.m., for our next Building Blocks Meeting to discuss the Senate Ways & Means budget and amendment strategy. The meeting will be hosted at CHAPA.

DHCD: Fair Housing Hearing – 4/23 in Springfield; 4/29 in Boston

Apologies for the late posting but an important FYI in case you can attend:

NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARINGS:
ANALYSIS OF IMPEDIMENTS TO FAIR HOUSING CHOICE
THE MA DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND COMMUNITY
DEVELOPMENT NEEDS YOUR INPUT

Come share your views on the Commonwealth’s 2019 draft Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice (“AI”). We want to hear from you about issues such as:
 Racial and ethnic segregation, including segregated, concentrated areas of poverty
 Gentrification and displacement of residents from their communities
 Access to communities with high quality schools, good jobs, and public
transportation
 Access barriers for people with disabilities
 Fair housing enforcement
 Particular housing challenges faced by families with children, voucher holders,
persons with disabilities, and
 Other fair housing issues that are important to you

DHCD has posted its draft AI, available at http://www.mass.gov/dhcd, and will hold the following PUBLIC HEARINGS on the draft AI:

April 23, 2019, 12:00 PM-2:00 PM.
UMass Center at Springfield,
Suite 260, Classroom UMCS-004
1500 Main Street, Springfield, MA 01115

April 29, 2019, 5:00 PM-7:00 PM.
Boston Planning and Development
Agency, 9th Floor Board Room
1 City Hall Square, Boston, MA 02201

For reasonable accommodations at the public hearings, please contact (617) 573-1100 (TTY 617-573-1140), or email margaux.leclair@mass.gov. Remote CART services will be provided.

Written comments may also be sent to 100 Cambridge Street, Suite 300, Boston, MA, 02114, Attn: Office of the General Counsel, or submitted online at www.mass.gov/dhcdhttp://www.mass.gov/dhcd (direct link https://massgov.formstack.com/forms/dhcdai), by May 29, 2019)

The Built for Zero Movement: 400 strong!

In late March, a team of 6 from the Springfield/Hampden Continuum of Care joined with 60 other communities across the country at a Built for Zero Learning Session. It was inspired and inspiring for its impact in ending homelessness.

Below is a post-event excerpt from Community Solutions, the national umbrella organization, and you can read more here:

We’re blown away by what the Built for Zero movement has become. Two years ago, 87 people showed up in Los Angeles, committed to learning with us and from one another in order to end homelessness.

This March, more than 400 people from 60+ communities and our partners gathered in Atlanta for two days of problem solving, planning, and celebrating each other’s work.

There was a lot to celebrate:

  • 10 communities have ended veteran homelessness.
  • 3 communities have ended chronic homelessness.
  • 39 communities are on their way, making significant reductions in the number of people experiencing homelessness.
  • Altogether nearly 105,000 people have been housed as part of this movement.

Read more here.

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee Minutes – 4/7/19

In attendance:  Emily English, Gandara, Lisa Goldsmith, Community Action, Rosemary Fiedler, HCC, Ann Lentini, Domus, Inc. Jane Lindfors, DTA-DV unit, Rebecca Muller, Gandara, Lizzy Ortiz, Mercy Medical, Denise Rivera, FOH, Jean Rogers, CHD, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Elorie Stevens, DCF, Kelly Wessels, DIAL/SELF

Youth Count: April 12 – May 12It is underway! Go here for materials:  http://mahomeless.org/advocacy/item/youth-count-2019.

Hampden County: Emily reported outreach underway with guidance counselors at schools; an event planned at The Impact Center in Springfield on 5/7 from 3:30 pm – 6:00 pm; working with HCC and STCC to do an event; outreach to ROCA and Samaratin Inn and ongoing with FOH. Gerry reported packets will be available at her office as soon as the Spanish version is available (should be next week).  For more info, contact Fina Full-Kay at ffulla-kay@springfieldcityhall.com.


3 county: Lisa is doing outreach across the region; sending the link and materials to all.  Kelly from DIAL/SELF is also doing outreach. 
See below for contacts for gift cards for youth participants and for any other questions.

Youth Homelessness Demonstration Project (YHDP): Both CoCs (Hampden for the 3rd time; 3 county for the first) are applying for this HUD-funded opportunity that will eventually provide at least $1 million in funding for youth services (and then renewal grants thereafter).  The application is due May 15.  3 County is applying as a “rural” region for Franklin County only.  Gerry hopes to have a draft ready by the end of next week for review if interested. Lisa discussed how this process will be very useful no matter the funding outcome, both in terms of mapping the system and in creating a Youth Advisory Board and gaining greater youth participation in helping to shape effective responses.

EOHHS Grant updates: Hampden:  29 intakes for youth have been taken since early December, with 4 of them receiving ongoing 12-month rapid re-housing.  The Needs Assessment has completed many of the core tasks and the team was able to present some preliminary findings at the early April meeting.  They have hired a part-time housing specialist, increasing their outreach and direct contact with youth and providing more referrals to needed services (e.g., mental health).  CHD and Gandara are meeting weekly with the Impact Center; they had a meeting with Samaratin Inn; going to Friends of the Homeless regularly – lots of good contact and relationship building. 

3 County: the program has interacted with a total of 59 young people (31 experiencing homelessness); 7 young people received flexible funds for rent or utilities.  Lisa is pursuing greater clarity around the definition of “at risk”.” They are continuing to work on building linkages between shelter and youth providers. DIAL/SELF is meeting individual shelter staff and building relationships.  They are also working on their Needs Assessment. 

Collaboration: We discussed in general the evolving collaborations taking place as a result of the youth programs underway (funded by EOHHS).  For example, in Hampden County, Gandara and CHD are working to develop an “outreach calendar” for the region that makes available to all a schedule for various outreach days at various locations (e.g., HCC, ROCA), independent of a particular agency’s “ownership.”  The movement is towards a “youth response TEAM” that serves young people at risk in a coordinated way across all agencies.  They hope to have the calendar ready for release by early May. 

We also discussed coordinated entry developments.  Hampden County was meeting monthly but elected to increase their meetings to weekly to allow for greater collaboration and more immediate problem-solving. Elorie at DCF requested that DCF participate in these meetings and Pamela will confirm the connection is made.  Ann at Domus will discuss with her staff person getting trained to participate in coordinated entry. In 3 County, Kelly updated the group about Soldier On’s new “google form” being used to track housing vacancies (an interim step while the Green River database gets up and running). It was noted that the process of coordinated entry is still getting up and running overall (e.g., providers still seeking clarity about who to call/what to do when faced with a young person at risk of or experiencing homelessness).  

Rebecca noted (and we all agreed) the immense progress happening in building our youth response system; how all the various components – from the OrgCode trainings on “thinking like a system” to “how to run an awesome shelter” to “diversion” with the EOHHS resources and strategies, needs assessments and YHDP opportunity – A LOT OF GROWTH!  And a big salute to all the providers making it happen.

Youth services training for DCF – 5/23, HCC: The invitation from DCF is out to state agencies – DCF, DYS, Probation, Juvenile Court, Congregate Care, etc – limiting to 10 staff people per agency.  Our working group – Lisa, Emily, Tyrese, Phil, Jean, Gerry and Pamela – have met by phone to plan the day (and are meeting again on Tuesday 4/23 at 3 pm – please let Pamela know if you would like to participate).  Note: this training is being offered by DCF for state agency staff; the Network is providing the training (as opposed to this being a trainer for Network partners far and wide – no literal capacity for that!).  Pamela will reach out to DHCD to see if they want to participate (especially in light of a change in regs that now has young parents between 21-23 referred to DTA, not DHCD, for young parent shelter – this age used to be 20 for that referral).  


Youth Count Contacts (for gift cards for youth completing the surveys and other questions):


Berkshire County:Jacob Hogue, Berkshire County Regional Housing Authority 413-443-7138 or 1-800-248-9002 x226  jacobh@bcrha.com
Franklin and Hampshire County:Kelsey Wessels or Sam Pepe, DIAL/SELF Youth and Community Services413-774-7054 x 4 (general intake #) kwessels@dialself.org or spepe@dialself.org
Hampden County: Mark Watkins at the Gandara Center 413-654-1554 mwatkins@gandaracenter.org
Jean Rogers or Tyrese Tillman, CHD413-781-6556 jrogers@chd.org or ttillman@chd.org

House budget amendments: ask your legislator to co-sponsor!

This week, our State Representatives will be deciding which House budget amendments to co-sponsor. This is our opportunity to advocate for their support of our key priorities (for contact info on your state legislator, go here). In partnership with our statewide advocacy partners, CHAPA, Mass Coalition for the Homeless and Homes for Families, the Network’s priority amendments are key to moving us forward in our effort to prevent and end homelessness.

Please contact your Representative to request their co-sponsorship of the following Amendments:

#401 – Mass Rental Voucher Program (MRVP) filed byRepresentative Paul Donato to increasing funding to $130 million to provide approximately 700 new vouchers.

#859 – MRVP filed by Representative Joe McGonagle to raise the Fair Market Rent levels from 2005 to current standards. 

#1127 – Rent Arrearage Assistance Program (RAAP)  filed by  Representative Marjorie Decker to create a $7 million upstream homelessness prevention pilot program within RAFT. 

#883 – Youth homelessness filed by Representative Jim O’Day to increase funding to $5 million for housing and wraparound services for unaccompanied youth and young adults experiencing homelessness. 

#682 – Secure Jobs filed by Representative Paul Brodeur to increase funding to $2 million to provide workforce development support for homeless families and individuals. 

#40 – Housing Consumer Education Centers Amendment filed by Representative Kevin Honan to increase HCEC funding to $4 million. 

#765 – Mass ID access filed by Representative Kay Khan to create a new outside section of the budget to ease access to standard Mass IDs for people experiencing homelessness. 

#1318 Craig’s Doors Emergency Shelter filed by Representative Mindy Domb to ensure that $175,000 of the emergency shelter line-item is allocated to this Amherst shelter, the only behavior-based shelter in Hampshire County, which serves individuals from Hampden and Franklin Counties as well.

#195 – Berkshire Winter Overflow Shelter Services  filed by Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier for $150,000 to provide critical winter emergency shelter services in Berkshire County. 

#1345 – Western MA Network to End Homelessness Amendmentfiled by Representative Lindsay Sabadosa to continue $125,000 in funding for the Network and its collective impact efforts.  

Thanks for your advocacy!

Family Services Meeting Minutes – 4/10/19

n attendance: Rebecca Burgos, CFCE West Springfield, Hillary Cronin, VA,, Brenda Garcia, BHN Project Fit, Jill Fijal, Chicopee Public Schools, Jenise Kataliina, Square One, Fran Lemay, ServiceNet, Heather Marshall, Elizabeth Freeman Center, Michelle Michaelian, BHN, Donna Nadeau, DHCD

Built for Zero Update: Pamela updated the group on her attendance at the Built For Zero Learning Session in Atlanta, GA in late March as part of the Hampden County CoC team. This is a very exciting initiative – over 70 CoCs and communities represented with 500 people from across the country – working as part of a national initiative (led by the national organization Community Solutions) in collaboration with HUD, VA and the US Interagency on Homelessness. Its first focus is to end veteran homelessness (several communities have celebrated this milestone; Hampden County has set June 30 for its goal!).  “Ending” means reaching “functional zero” where the number of people experiencing homelessness each month is less than the average number of people who are rehoused (i.e., the “outflow” is larger than the “inflow”). After achieving veteran homelessness, the initiative will focus its efforts on ending chronic homelessness and then all forms of homelessness (youth and family).

Built for Zero considers itself a movement for social change, anchored in fundamental grassroots organizing principles (there is no such thing as doing “for” only “with”), entirely data-driven and using that data to make highly measurable progress.  It is positively inspiring to be a part of it!
Pamela shared this information with the new 3 County CoC lead – Community Action – and they are participating in a webinar on 4/9 about how new communities can join.  We will all stay tuned.  The next national convening will be in October and meanwhile the work in Hampden County continues with the countdown to ending veteran homelessness by June 30.  


School Liaison/Shelter Provider Update: Jill Fijal of Chicopee Public Schools reported out on the Network meeting of school liaisons and shelter providers to build stronger partnerships so students living in shelters are better served and connected to services.  School liaisons will offer a training for all shelter case managers on July 23 to train them on McKinney Vento policies and resources.  Jill is the liaison on this.  Thank you, Jill!


Child Care Voucher/Head Start/CFCE Training: As a follow-up to the new EEC voucher regulations and our outreach on Head Start and CFCE, the Network is sponsoring a training on Tuesday, April 30, 9:30 am – 11:30 am at Holyoke Community College – Kittredge Center, Room 301.  Please register here.   We clarified that Sara Garvin of NEFWC will be participating in the EEC training; Rebecca Burgos will be the point person for the CFCE outreach and we will maximize the turn-out of shelter case managers to this training so they are in possession of this information as they serve families. 


MA Youth Count: April 12 – May 12 – Go here for the surveys and related information.

FY20 State Budget Update: Pamela, in combination with various Network partners, has been leading meetings with Western MA state legislators regarding the Network’s FY20 budget priorities.  Today, Network partners got an audience with Senate President Spilka who joined a planned meeting with Senator Anne Gobi (from Ware and Palmer), a fabulous opportunity to bring Western MA needs to the highest levels of state government!


Register for the Resource Fair!Monday, June 10, 9 am – 12 noon, Holyoke Community College.  

To register to attend: go here

To register to request table space to share resources: go here (note: if you’re having a table but have additional staff attending, please register on the general attendance link as well).

Next meeting date: Tuesday, May 14, 11 am – 12:30 pm, Frost Building, Room 309, Holyoke Community College.

3 County Individual Services Meeting Minutes – 4/8/19

In attendance: Yoshi Bird, YWCA, Steve Connor, Veterans Services, Sara Cunningham, Community Action, Eleanor Dodson, ServiceNet, Erin Forbush, ServiceNet, Lisa Goldsmith, Community Action, Jade Lovett, Craig’s Doors, Elizabeth Mansfield, Tapestry,  Danielle McColgan, CHD, Katie Miernecki, ServiceNet, Theresa Nicholson, CHD, Aidan Novo, Craig’s Doors, Aisha Pizarro, YWCA, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Kate Shapiro, DMH, Michael Trembley, ServiceNet


SSI/SSDI Training: Big thanks to Caitlyn Thomas, a Social Security disability advocate, for volunteering her incredible time and energy to organizing and leading a training of roughly 75 Network partners this morning at Holyoke Public Library on SS/SSDI.  The feedback was excellent across the board and the only “complaint” was wanting more!  Pamela will discuss with Caitlyn any possibility for supplemental training and/or distribution of the presentation.


Built for Zero Update: Pamela updated the group on her attendance at the Built For Zero Learning Session in Atlanta, GA in late March as part of the Hampden County CoC team. This is a very exciting initiative – over 70 CoCs and communities represented with 500 people from across the country – working as part of a national initiative (led by the national organization Community Solutions) in collaboration with HUD, VA and the US Interagency on Homelessness. Its first focus is to end veteran homelessness (several communities have celebrated this milestone; Hampden County has set June 30 for its goal!).  “Ending” means reaching “functional zero” where the number of people experiencing homelessness each month is less than the average number of people who are rehoused (i.e., the “outflow” is larger than the “inflow”). After achieving veteran homelessness, the initiative will focus its efforts on ending chronic homelessness and then all forms of homelessness (youth and family).


Built for Zero considers itself a movement for social change, anchored in fundamental grassroots organizing principles (there is no such thing as doing “for” only “with”), entirely data-driven and using that data to make highly measurable progress.  It is positively inspiring to be a part of it!
Pamela shared this information with the new 3 County CoC lead – Community Action – and they are participating in a webinar on 4/9 about how new communities can join.  We will all stay tuned.  The next national convening will be in October and meanwhile the work in Hampden County continues with the countdown to ending veteran homelessness by June 30.  


Discussion of 3 county assessment tool:  The group began to revisit the question of the 3 County CoC’s assessment tool for its coordinated entry system. All Built for Zero communities use the VI-SPDAT, which was previously rejected by the 3 County CoC in favor of the AZ Matrix Tool. Pamela suggested the group take another look since the VI-SPDAT allows for a common language, more training resources and comparison with the other CoC’s across the nation (as well as the Hampden County CoC).  It was agreed that this was an appropriate issue for the Coordinated Entry work group to take up.  Pamela will just give a heads-up on the question (and what she took away from the Built for Zero session) at the CoC Board meeting on Wed. 


Update on PSH transition: Theresa Nicholson of CHD gave a report on its acquisition of ServiceNet’s PSH contract and her search for new units.  She has a promising lead on a complex in Millers Falls, although we discussed access to public transportation as a possible barrier. She will examine other transpo options. At this point, CHD will be taking over ServiceNet’s 26 units for PSH (and will add 28-30 more).  If CHD can enter into a sub-contract with ServiceNet (for its remaining dollars), some of these units could come on line in May; otherwise it will be in July when CHD takes over the full contract.


Shelter Plus Care conversations: We reported out on the initial meeting with DMH and ACCS (ServiceNet) regarding implementation of system changes to ease the eligibility and housing process.  The group will meet again in May and will keep this group updated.


MA Youth Count: April 12 – May 12 – go here for surveys and related information – please spread the word and participate!

Shelter Update:  Shelters are full as usual. We agreed to reframe this topic on the monthly agenda to address questions/issues ripe for discussion – Pamela will check in with Erin, Katie and Jade prior to meeting to see if there is something they want to discuss.


FY20 State Budget Update: Pamela, in combination with various Network partners, has been leading meetings with Western MA state legislators regarding the Network’s FY20 budget priorities.  On April 8, Network partners got an audience with Senate President Spilka who joined a planned meeting with Senator Anne Gobi (from Ware and Palmer), a fabulous opportunity to bring Western MA needs to the highest levels of state government!


Register for the Resource Fair!Monday, June 10, 9 am – 12 noon, Holyoke Community College. 

 To register to attend: go here

To register to request table space to share resources: go here (note: if you’re having a table but have additional staff attending, please register on the general attendance link as well).

Next meeting date: Monday, May 13, 1 pm, ServiceNet, 296 Nonotuck St, Northampton