Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting Minutes of 9/14/16

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee
September 14, 2016

In attendance: Lisa Goldsmith, DIAL/SELF, Natalie Hill, John Lewis, Springfield Police Department, Gandara Center, Kim Majewski, Gandara Center, Gerry McCafferty, Hampden CoC/City of Springfield, Rebecca Muller, Grantworks, Jean Rogers, CHD, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Maria Vogel, Gandara, Rhonda Young, CHD,

We welcomed John Lewis of the Springfield Police Dept who is working with the Shannon Grant, a program of the Executive Office of Public Safety that addresses community’s gang and youth violence. 

Three County CoC Program Update (Lisa Goldsmith reported):

  • 4 youth have subsidies, 3 housed
  • 14 youth are in process for subsidies
  • in hiring process for Franklin and Hampshire Counties for additional outreach/case management staff; will be subcontracting with Berkshire County Regional Housing for the Berkshire component
  • Observations include seeing more youth involved in DCF and DMH, 18 year olds who have been in foster case; seeing more young parents
  • In need of emergency sheltering options, having a hard time finding host homes

Hampden County CoC Program Update(Kim Majewski reported):

  • Introduced us to Natalie Hill, the new host home manager and case manager
  • Have utilized 3 host homes, one young person returned home, one entered SHINE transitional housing program, another returned to homelessness (complicated story, will continue to reach out)
  • 17 of 18 rapid rehousing beds are currently occupied
  • Observations: encountering more young people who are literally homeless (e.g., living behind a grocery store, in car, abandoned home). Causes include conflict with parents, family financial instability, longstanding family challenges, mental health issues
  • Continuing to meet at Friends of the Homeless twice/week and doing outreach with Out NOW (GBLT group) and other access points for young people, building great relationships across the community, seeing the climb in demand as a result of the outreach and the available resource
  • Concern expressed about ensuring continued funding to sustain this groundwork. Very hopeful to create more of a connection with high schools and community colleges, only just beginning.

Discussion of October meeting with EOHHS and their Safe and Successful Youth Initiative and Shannon Grant programs in the region:

We reviewed the invitation from Robyn Kennedy (Deputy Assistant Secretary at EOHHS) to bring together our committee with these other EOHHS programs. All are very enthusiastic about this opportunity.

We agreed we would propose an agenda as follows:

  • Network summary – who and what and why we are (Pamela)
  • CoC overview – who and what they are (Gerry)
  • Youth Program overviews (Lisa and Kim)

Gerry generously agreed to put together a framework for a powerpoint presentation. We agreed on maximum 20 minutes on this part of the meeting (assuming 20 minutes max for their program summaries, leaving 50 minutes for discussion and brainstorm on collaboration possibilities)

On meeting space, Pamela will inquire of HCC first and then possibly Holyoke Library if HCC is not available.

Youth NOFA grant opportunity by HUD:

We reviewed the terms of the proposal (click here for summary compiled by Rebecca Muller). We agreed that the Hampden CoC will apply (and we think it will be highly competitive!).
A big challenge is funding the 6 month planning process (and the question is whether HUD expects the hiring of a full-time coordinator for that process and beyond). The possibility was raised of allocating some Network earmark funds to support this process.
Focus groups were also discussed as a great way to incorporate the perspective of young people (and build a youth advisory committee in the process).
Gerry, Rebecca and Kim will keep meeting on this and will use the Committee as needed. Deadline is 11/30.

Youth Committee Work Plan review (click here)

We only had a very brief time to review this. We agreed on the following:

  • Everyone would review independently on their own time and email comments within the next 2 weeks
  • Kim will flesh out the “notes” sections where relevant to include more detail on outreach efforts
  • Rebecca and Kim will work together to broaden the scope of the workplan to go beyond the EOHHS youth grant and current partners
  • Gerry will adapt plan to reflect regional focus (as opposed to Hampden CoC only)
  • We will allocate substantial time on the November agenda to reviewing our work plan and taking stock of next steps

Next meeting:

Wed., October 12, 9:30 -11:00 am, Location TBD [NOTE: This meeting date will be rescheduled – conflict determined since our last meeting – stay tuned for calendar update]

Wed., November 9, 9:30-11:00 am, Gandara Center, Holyoke

Secure Jobs Meeting Minutes of 9/6/16

Secure Jobs Advisory Committee
September 6, 2016

In attendance: Ashley Brehm, HAPHousing, C. Diluzio, Veterans Inc., Dawn DiStefano, Square One, Madeline Martinez, HAPHousing, Bill Mulholland, Berkshire Community College, Maegan Pedemonit, HAPHousing, George Ryan, Hampden County Regional Employment Board, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Maricelli Serrano, BerkshireWorks, Chris Skerritt, HAPHousing, Pamela Wotjkowski, BerkshireWorks

Review of Progress Report for July/August FY17: Click here
July signaled start of new contract year. DHCD award to Western region (via HAP as lead agency) is for $120,000 (about half as much as previous year due to budget cuts, although a portion of funding was performance-based and HAP received maximum amount due to the program’s outstanding performance). Placement goal for the year is 37 but the program has already placed 22 individuals in employment in the first 2 months alone. Congratulations to all.

Welcome to Chris Skerritt, HAP’s new employment specialist. They have developed a cohort curriculum that is working very well (they have convened 2 cohorts thus far).

Support for Berkshire, Franklin, Hampshire Counties:
HAP is in the process of getting clear on nature of support to Berkshire County (via BerkshireWorks) and Franklin/Hampshire counties (via FH Career Center). Likely on case-by-case basis, when someone fits SJ criteria, limited resources will be available to support specific needs such as training dollars or client allowance. The allocation for discretionary support was substantially cut due to overall budget cuts so very few dollars available overall. May also incorporate limited performance-based contract (i.e., some reimbursement based on placements). This will be clarified over the next month.

Additional fundraising efforts:
Ashley shared that she is focusing this year on expanding financial base of support for the program so not reliant exclusively on yearly state funding. One key exploration is reimbursement by the SNAP program (45% reimbursement for a range of employment and training services once budget is approved). Must be exclusively a SNAP recipient without additional benefits (e.g., no TAFDC recipient would qualify). This will be a test year to ascertain potential leverage with this resource.

BerkshireWorks update:
Most referrals for Secure Jobs come from Berkshire Housing (HomeBASE or RAFT recipients). Clients are incorporated in the ongoing work readiness program (CEIS).

 Berkshire Community College Update:
Bill Mulholland updated the group on the Working Cities Grant – $500,000 over 3 years – that in Berkshire County will focus on the Bridges program, an effort to bring in non-profits and other entities to develop greater access to job opportunities. Huge challenges exist in transportation, language barriers and above all creating an environment of inclusion and awareness of opportunity for all. This is an exciting opportunity.   A specific big challenge in Berkshire County is also the aging population and the number of anticipated retirements in the years ahead. Berkshire Health Systems is especially concerned and would like to focus on the necessary train ing and language learning opportunities to ensure a work force that meets the community needs.

Secure Jobs Advisory Committee focus this year:
The group discussed the mission of our Advisory Committee for the coming year. There was consensus that the Committee’s most useful function is to serve as a vehicle for advocacy around policy changes that would improve outcomes for Secure Jobs (and related employment efforts). We agreed we should further consider moving to quarterly meetings and using these meetings to bring together legislators to hear our successes, challenges and recommendations for reform. Towards this end, we agreed we would use our next October meeting to invite Rep. Kocot and Rep. Vega, our 2 Committee legislators, to brainstorm this concept and help move it forward.

Initial brainstorm on policy concerns included:

  • child care
  • public transportation
  • ESL
  • Housing for hard-to-house families

We agreed we would pose 2 possible dates to the legislators: Wed., Oct. 5 at 11 am (our usual meeting time) or Friday, Oct. 7 in the morning (since Fridays are frequently easier for legislators). Pamela will report back to the group as soon as she hears back.