Family Services Committee Meeting Minutes – 6/14/16

Family Services Committee Meeting Minutes
June 14, 2016

In attendance: Steven Acevedo, NEFWC, Jane Banks, CHD, Bonnie Caldwell, DHCD, Hillary Cronin, VA, Jose Cruz, CHD, Juan Cruz, NEFWC, Yahaira Diaz, VOC, Anthia Elliott, Safe Passage, Jessica Garces, CHD, Allie Haber, Network, Jill Fijal, Chicopee Public Schools, Sean Hemingway, CHD, Fran Lemay, ServiceNet, Heather Marshall, Elizabeth Freeman House, Betty Miller, Valley Opportunity Council, Ita Mullarkey, DHCD, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Stephen Plummer, Springfield Partners, Jenni Pothier, TPP, Marisol Quinone, VOC, Jessica Quintana, WomanShelter, Liza Rios, YWCA, Josean Roldan, NEFWC, Eimy Santiago, VOC, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Twjana Williams, DHCD, Linda Vega, VOC, Luz Vega, WomanShelter, Lyia Vega, CHD, Janette Vigo, HAP, Lauren Voyer, HAP, Jennifer Wands, Springfield Public Schools, Erica Zayas, VOC

 Congratulations to Western MA Partners!

We devoted this meeting primarily to a celebration of the significant progress made this year in ending family homelessness in Western Massachusetts and statewide. Click here and here for data from DHCD (thanks to Deputy Undersecretary Rose Evans) that captures that progress: in Western MA, family homelessness in motels dropped 84% since last year (from 127 to 20 families today). We also welcomed from DHCD Ita Mullarky, Associate Director of the Division of Housing Stabilization, who shared more impact information resulting from this year’s innovations, including targeted funds for hard-to-house families and focus on the diversion effort at the front door. A year ago, the diversion rate hovered around 5-6%; by this year’s end, the diversion rate is 25% (and even higher in Western MA). She applauded the diversion and re-housing effort in Western MA, and in particular the thoughtful, skilled approach to understanding and meeting each family’s housing needs.

Ita shared that last year the state was contracting with 49 motels statewide; that number is down to 22 now and DHCD is looking to end all motels over this next year. Ita also noted that 100% of families entering the EA system in Springfield are staying in Springfield and that statewide 80% of families are placed within 20 miles of their community of origin. This is also a significant advance from last year.

Ita shared that DHCD is looking at implementing a pilot project in Brockton and Boston to focus on additional targeting of prevention resources. It will provide an opportunity to track the effectiveness of strategic interventions around prevention.

We also took time to hear personal stories of providers’ experiences working with families and what it meant to support them on their path to housing. Thanks to all who shared and inspired!

A special thanks to Jane Banks and Center for Human Development for their incredibly generous hosting, including a celebratory cake for all!here

FY17 State Budget Update:

Pamela provided an update on the FY17 state budget process: the budget is currently in Conference Committee with differences being hammered out between the House and Senate budgets. Relevant updates include:

  • Both budgets include the expansion of HomeBASE to include families living in domestic violence shelters, which means it will be included in the final budget. This is a huge victory! And our collaborative effort between DV and homelessness providers contributed to the success.
  • Secure Jobs is funded at 3x higher in the Senate budget ($1.5 million vs. $500,000). The group noted the remarkable success of the Western MA Secure Jobs program (more than doubled its FY16 goal of job placements!) and how important continued funding is to maintain this success. Advocate for the Senate provision!
  • The Local Consortiums are funded at $1 million in the Senate and not funded in the House. We need to advocate for the Senate version!
  • Unaccompanied Homeless Youth funding received $2 million in the Senate and $1 million in the House.

To learn more, go to the blog post at: http://westernmasshousingfirst.org/2016/06/alert-conference-committee-action-on-network-priorities/

 

Please contact your legislators and urge them to advocate with the Conference Committee for the Network priorities. To find your legislator go to: malegislature.gov

 

Next meeting date:

Due to summer vacation schedules (in particular Pamela’s), we will not be meeting in July. We will meet next on: Tuesday, August 9, 1:00 – 2:30 pm, CHD, 51 Capitol Drive, West Springfield

Progress on Zoning Reform

A message from CHAPA regarding Zoning Reform:

Zoning Reform passed the State Senate today (June 9)! The final bill contained much needed updates to our zoning practices as well as a multifamily zoning requirement and an amendment prohibiting discriminatory land use decisions against affordable housing developments.  Also, the bill came out free and clear of any changes to Chapter 40B!  Thank you to those who made calls or reached out to their State Senator to help get this passed. Now onto the House!