Springfield Issues Request for Proposals for Emergency Solutions Grant Program

The City of Springfield has been allocated $305,439 in federal Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) funds for FY14.  These funds are to be used for homelessness prevention and rapid rehousing, and top provide some support for existing emergency shelters.

The City has released a Request for Proposals (RFP) seeking providers to operate ESG programs.  Applications for program funds are due May 12, 2014, by 2:00 pm, at the Office of Housing.  For more information, view the RFP:

Secure Jobs Initiative in House Ways and Means Budget!

To our great surprise and delight, we learned last Thursday that the Secure Jobs initiative was written into the House Ways and Means budget!  It is $500,000 funding statewide, which is a critical start to targeted state support of this initiative.  SJ partners statewide scrambled upon learning of this provision to make some corrections in an amendment, which was sponsored by Rep. Wagner and co-sponsored by our own Secure Jobs Advisory Committee members Rep. Kocot and Rep. Vega, as well as other Western Mass. legislators (Rep. Andrews, Rep. Farley-Bouvier, Rep. Mark, Rep. Scibak).  The Amendment language is below, FYI.
This provision with the amendment means that homeless families would receive job training, job search and housing stabilization services for 12 months as well as utilization of MRVP subsidies (details of how the subsidies would apply are unclear right now).  This is a big step forward for institutionalizing the Secure Jobs program as a state-sponsored initiative.
Congratulations to all for the excellent work over this last year that made this progress possible.    Special thanks to the Fireman Foundation for their initial innovation and investment that made this project happen.  A huge thanks to our legislators for their incredible support, and especially to House Ways and Means Vice Chair Stephen Kulik for his leadership on this proposal.  We are extremely fortunate to have such fantastic representation across our region!
Stay tuned for advocacy updates.
The Amendment:

Amendment #979 to H.4000

Secure Jobs Initiative

Representatives Wagner of Chicopee, Andrews of Orange, Ayers of Quincy, Beaton of Shrewsbury, Dykema of Holliston, Farley-Bouvier of Pittsfield, Heroux of Attleboro, Honan of Boston, Kafka of Stoughton, Khan of Newton, Kocot of Northampton, Mark of Peru, Roy of Franklin, Scibak of South Hadley and Smola of Warren move to amend the bill in section 2 by striking out item 7004-9322 and inserting in place thereof the following: “7004-9322: For the Secure Jobs pilot program for job training, job search services and 12 months of housing stabilization services, if not otherwise available, to families receiving assistance under 7004-0101, 7004-0103, 7004-0108, 7004-9024 or 7004-9316; provided, that the program shall be administered by agencies that have demonstrated experience working in partnership with regional administering agencies, including, but not limited to: Community Teamwork, Inc., Father Bill’s & MainSpring, HAP, Inc., Jewish Vocational Services and SER-Jobs for Progress; provided further, that the department of housing and community development shall utilize rental assistance provided under 7004-9024 to ensure effective participation under this program……….$500,000.”

Secure Jobs Connect Advisory Committee Minutes – 4/8; next meeting 5/6

Secure Jobs Connect Advisory Committee
April 8, 2014

In attendance:  Toni Bator, HAPHousing, Ken Demers, New England Farm Workers Council, Donna Harris, Franklin/Hampshire Career Center, Joanne Glier, DTA, Lisa Lapierre, Corporation for Public Management, Bill Monterosso, Berkshire Works, Darlene Morse, CareerPoint, Alexandra Revis, Brandeis, Konrad Rogowski, Future Works, George Ryan, Hampden County Regional Employment Board, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Robin Sherman, Franklin County Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority, Ken White, Holyoke Community College, Phyllis White, FH Career Center

Reviewed March/end of grant period progress report:

Note:  due to timing of meeting, and data preparation, Lisa offered an informal write-up with summary data.  I will send along the formal March progress report as soon as data is updated.

Summary report:

SJC enrolled 95 individuals (goal: 96)

SJC employed 60 individuals (goal 75)

SJC has retained jobs for 51 (with 4 more in active job search, which would bring it up to 55) (goal 61).

Retention rate is at 85%  (goal: 80%).  Fantastic outcome.  Note that retention numbers were almost fully achieved without needing the original number of job placements.

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Family Services Committee Minutes – 4/8; next meeting 5/13

Family Services Committee Meeting
April 8, 2014

In attendance:  Shannon Barry, Springfield Public Schools, Cris Carl, Family Inn/ServiceNet, Bonnie Caldwell, HAPHousing, Ken Demers, New England Farm Workers Council, Anthia Elliott, Safe Passage, Erin Forbush, ServiceNet – Berkshires, Faith Lafayette, DPH FOR Families, Jane Lindfors, DTA-DV unit, Lynn Minella, WomanShelter Companeras, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Jordana O’connell, Holyoke Public Schools, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Sarah Slautterback, DESE, Stephen Plummer, Springfield Partners for Community Action, Hilda Santa, Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity, Lauren Voyer, HAPHousing

Update on meeting with Alvina Brevard, DHCD Field Director, to discuss presumptive eligibility policies and procedures:

Per our last family services meeting charge, Pamela reached out to Alvina Brevard to discuss presumptive eligibility.  Alvina was immediately responsive and a meeting took place on 3/31/14 with Alvina of DHCD, Carmen Roman of DCF, Faith Lafayette of FOR Families and the region’s shelter providers.  It was agreed that DHCD should prioritize developing a system for communicating a family’s presumptive placement to providers to prevent against unanticipated terminations (due to failure to complete paperwork, e.g.)

Donna Nadeau of DHCD suggested that the change take place within the ETO system so that the central office could record presumptively placed at the time of placement and all providers could gain immediate access to this information.  Pamela will email Alvina, updating her on this conversation and bringing Donna into the loop.

We also discussed the role of presumptive placement as a way of protecting against families sleeping in places not fit for human habitation.  Both at the meeting with Alvina and our meeting today, providers shared that they have not encountered families in a position where they have been denied EA in the face of sleeping in unsafe places.  Alvina stressed that she always wants to be called if providers are seeing families in this situation.

Donna also announced that next year’s budget proposes to invest more dollars into congregate shelter with the recognition that this is necessary to move families out of motels into more supportive settings.

Everyone expressed support for this move, also recognizing the challenge of start-up costs (rehab) and the challenge of finding the units.  But providers are on board for implementation.

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