Amherst Affordable Housing Forum: 10/25, 7 pm

 

Working the Amherst Housing Puzzle: A Community Problem Solving Forum 

Dear All,

We invite you to participate in next Wednesday’s Amherst Housing Forum (October 25).  We have new data and new ideas to share with the community.  We expect to engage in interesting and valuable conversations about what we can do to address our local housing problems.

During the past 10-15 years, Amherst has lost an estimated 800 households with children under 18, according to US Census data.  Significant numbers of homeless individuals are served each year by local service providers, but rarely placed in housing.  Barriers to developing new affordable housing in Amherst for both individuals and families often appear insurmountable.  What can we do?

These are the issues to be addressed by this Forum.  We are bringing together persons from both within and outside Amherst to lend their knowledge and experience to these issues.  But most importantly we are convening the community to discuss and develop ideas about what we can do to make changes.

This is a collaboration of the Amherst League of Women Voters, the Amherst Municipal Affordable Housing Trust, Valley Community Development Corporation, and the Unitarian-Universality Society of Amherst. It is set for Wednesday, October 25, 7 P.M. in the Social Hall of the Unitarian Universalist Society, 121 N. Pleasant St, Amherst.

The sponsors wish to encourage the broadest possible participation in this Forum.  This invitation was also sent to other individuals and organizations in Amherst.  However, we probably did not include everyone we should have.  So please forward this to anyone you know who might be interested, even if that results in some duplication.  Also, a flyer about the event is attached for posting.

Thank you for your assistance.

Yours sincerely,

John Hornik, Chair, Amherst Municipal Affordable Housing Trust

Rebecca Fricke, President, Amherst League of Women Voters

Joanne Campbell, Executive Director, Valley Community Development Corporation

 

P.S.  Looking for more detail?

Our plan is to organize the forum into three parts:

(1) An introduction and presentation of what the Trust and the Town are doing to address issues of both affordable housing and homelessness in the past year.

(2) This will be followed by a panel presentation on the development of a small, studio apartment building in Amherst to serve the needs of persons who have very low incomes or are homeless.

(3) The final segment will break the larger group into five smaller groups to discuss actions that could be taken to further address these problems.  They are as follows:

  1. Studio Apartments: Continued discussion.
  2. Encouraging and Supporting Development: How can Amherst best leverage available resources to maximize affordable housing? What are the barriers to affordable housing: What changes are needed?
  3. Preventing homelessness: outreach counselors – small investment for significant returns; useful models, effective strategies
  4. Finding homes: recruiting landlords; caseworkers to assist individuals and families in getting housed; useful models, effective strategies
  5. Changing the Amherst housing market: Developing Town and University policies to assure greater access to housing.

You’re Invited: Career Services Workshop for Providers – Wed., Nov. 15, 2 pm, Holyoke

Please join us:
(and please click here for a printable flyer)

The Western MA Network to End Homelessness’ Secure Jobs Advisory Committee is pleased to offer this opportunity:

Career Services, Training and Education Resources
A workshop for providers serving people
at risk or experience homelessness

Wednesday, November 15
2:00 – 4:00 pm
CareerPoint, Paper City Room 3rd Floor
850 High Street, Holyoke

All providers (housing, education, health care, food insecurity, child care, etc.) and state and local agencies are welcome from across the 4 Western counties.

Come learn about:

  • what career services, job readiness, educational assistance and training opportunities are available
  • when and where a referral is appropriate
  • how to describe to your clients the skills they can gain, including career readiness, English language, internet use

Presenters include: BerkshireWorks, CareerPoint, Franklin Hampshire Career Center, FutureWorks, Way Finders’ Secure Jobs Program

Please RSVP to Pamela Schwartz, Network coordinator, at pschwartz77@gmail.com by November 10.

Individual Services Meeting Minutes – 10/5/17

Individual Services Meeting Minutes
October 5, 2017
In attendance: Jesus Arce, City of Springfield, Sam Cunningham, ServiceNet, Sarah Hills, Eliot Homeless Services, Peg Keller, City of Northampton, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Rachel Weiss, Craig’s Doors, Lynn White, Viability

Update on Coordinated Entry 
  • 1-800 number:  Jay shared an update regarding the nearing release of the 3 County CoC’s coordinated 1-800 number to provide resource and referral information to people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.  Soldier On is administering the calling center (building off of their veterans hotline).  It will be open Monday through Friday, exact hours still to be determined.  Eliot Services and others are involved in training the staff.
  • Jay also reported that the coordinated entry assessment tool (an adapted version of the AZ Matrix tool) will soon be launched.  They are waiting on DHCD to integrate this tool into the HMIS system (suggested by November 1).  This will make data entry and implementation of a prioritization list more immediately doable.
 
Program updates
ServiceNet: Sam reported that cot shelter is almost fully staffed and ready to go (looking for bi-lingual staff person).  Trainings are underway around opioid awareness, Narcan, de-escalation, etc. A new doctor from Health Care for the Homeless is now on board.  Sam also noted that 173 people used the resource center this past summer, down from 207 last summer.
Peg noted from Northampton’s Next Step meeting that Eliot Services identified 25-30 unsheltered individuals in Northampton, more than ever before.  She also noted that the Easthampton overflow shelter is on track for opening on time.
Craig’s Doors:  Rachel reported that she and Jade are now co-executive directors with Rebekah Wilder’s departure.  It’s all systems go as they prepare for shelter opening on November 1. There are 3 managers this year, 2 with previous experience at the shelter. They are also incorporating extensive training as noted above and developing policies and procedures. Assuming traffic at the new Resource Center will pick up once the shelter is open.  They are also exploring developing overflow space at area churches.
Data Review:
We reviewed the 3 County CoC’s 2017 Annual Report and Point in Time Count Report, both required submissions by HUD.
Some discussion points:
  • Noted the increase in the unsheltered count, which Jay attributed to both better outreach and identification and the impact of the opioid crisis.
  • Under housing inventory, it was recorded that there was an increase in rapid re-housing beds of 100.  We agreed to follow-up with the CoC on this number since there is a lack of clarity around where those units came from (who is funded) and where they are located.
  • Winter shelter beds were also pulled out as a data point and we agreed to follow-up to better understand that as a measure (is that HUD’s?).
  • Interesting to see data around increase in job and income growth.
The group agreed that reviewing this data and better understanding what is submitted to HUD is useful to connect to both the goal of quality data collection and the underlying goal of ending homelessness.  We will continue the discussion at the next 3 County meeting.
Next meetings:
11/2, 10:30-noon, Springfield
12/7, 10:30-noon, Northampton – note: we agreed to permanently shift the meeting time in Northampton to 10:30-noon

Secure Jobs Advisory Committee Minutes – 10/4/17

Secure Jobs Meeting Minutes – 10/4/17
In attendance: Dawn DiStefano, Square One, Bud Delphin, CareerPoint, Lisa Lapierre, Franklin Hampshire Career Center, Maegan Pedemonti, Way Finders, George Ryan, Hampden County Regional Employment Board, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Pamela Wotjkowski, BerkshireWorks
September Progress Report review (click here):
11 placements as of 9/30
focusing efforts on raising wage to livable wage
success story featured great partnership with Amazon
Program Updates
 

CareerPoint: Bud reported that CareerPoint is working hard in concert with others to prepare for providing support to Puerto Rican residents that will be moving into the area.  A big effort to identify support mechanisms in all areas of life, including career support.

Franklin Hampshire Career Center:  Lisa reported that the career center has consolidated so that all services are operating out of the Greenfield office with an out-station location at Forbes Library in Northampton.  There will be regularly scheduled services in Northampton on Mondays and Wednesdays, including unemployment walk-in hours.  Weekly job search workshops will be offered on Thursdays and intermittent info sessions on WIOA and disability programs will be scheduled.
Lisa also reported some confusion around reimbursement for clients served through the SJ program last year and around available resources this year.  We agreed that reaching out to Ashley for a clarifying conversation would be appropriate.
BerkshireWorks: Pam reported that Johnny Miranda from Way Finders is coming to the Berkshires to do a training around workforce development.  Pam also noted the rise in young people seeking services.
Planning for Career Services Workshop
 
The group confirmed the date and time and location for this workshop: Wed., 11/15, 2-4 pm, CareerPoint in Holyoke.
We brainstormed outreach to providers, including front line and managerial staff:
shelter providers, CHD, VOC, NEFWC,  WF, FOH, ServiceNet
DTA, DHCD, MRC
community colleges – HCC, STCC (Bud), GCC (Lisa)
Survival Centers – Amherst, Northampton Survival Center
Community Action
McKinney Vento reps –
BHN, CSO
Springfield Works
Eliot Services –
Viability (formerly Human Resources Unlimited)
River Valley Counseling
Three County CoC
Holyoke Health Center
Clean Slate
The understanding is that career centers will talk amongst themselves about how to divide up presenting on available resources (since there is extensive overlap among the centers).  We agreed we would leave plenty of time for Q&A and perhaps break-outs by sub-region.  We agreed we would circulate the invitation across the 4 counties, understanding that turn-out from the Berkshires will be minimal but at least it will be useful for career center staff.
After brainstorming language for the flyer, Pamela agreed she would do a draft flyer and circulate for feedback.  Bud may enlist a person at CP to help with graphics.  We will aim to get it out early next week.
Next meeting:  Wed., 11/1, 11 am – 12: 15 pm.  We will finalize workshop format then.