Secure Jobs Year 2 – Statewide March Report

The Paul and Phyllis Fireman Charitable Foundation is pleased to provide this update on the Secure Jobs – Year 2 program that links formerly homeless families to jobs.

In year 2, DHCD has contributed $1.5 million and The Paul and Phyllis Fireman Charitable Foundation $1 million to deepen and expand this regional work. So far on year 2, we have a total of 272 individuals employed.

Please click below for more information on the Secure Jobs Fund & Vocational Training initiative or go to

Minutes of Work Group to House People with Sex Offense Histories – 4/16/15

Meeting Minutes – 4/16/15
In attendance:  Carl Cignoni, Hampshire County Corrections/MA DOC Re-entry; Jen Glover, Franklin County Home Care Corporation, Ellie Harris, ServiceNet, Richard Hendrick, social worker, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Phyllis Lutsky, VA Medical Center, Pamela Schwartz, Network
Planning for Statewide Commission meeting:
Thanks to Laurie Guidry’s assistance, the Network has been invited to speak as part of a panel on the Collateral Consequences of Sex Offense Convictions before the Commission to End Sex Offender Recidivism on May 28, from 9 am to 11 am in Boston (location to be determined).  Our panel is being coordinated by the Committee for Public Counsel Services.
We will have approximately 20 minutes to speak.  Pamela will speak on behalf of the committee and other committee members are encouraged to attend.  Pamela shared her phone conversation with Laurie prior to this meeting (she could not attend today), and we agreed on the following outline:
  • background on the history of our effort – the Network, the naming of this issue by its partners, the evolution into a work group and its goals to expand housing options for sex offenders
  • a couple of personal stories of people with sex offense histories who pose no safety threat who we are unable to get housed
  • what we have accomplished thus far, e.g., 2 educational forums to faith and other leaders; targeted outreach to housing providers with training and discussion; development of criteria for housing sex offenders
  • what we have learned: housing providers will not house this population without state policy intervention that makes it less threatening to their liability to do so, e.g., language on the SORB website that refers to sex offenders as “dangerous”
  • our recommendations: over-arching ask is change leveling system so that it is evidence-based, driven by real risk, represents a policy that supports public safety as opposed to the opposite; smaller ask is to change language on SORB website.  Pamela will follow-up with Laurie to confirm additional “medium” asks, i.e., other changes that would promote “evidence-based” practice.
Pamela will also follow-up with individual committee members (Jen, Carl, Richard, Joe, Madeline) to collect personal stories to incorporate in the talk.
Carl thinks he may be able to make it to Boston; Pamela will keep everyone informed of meeting location and other details.
Pamela will draft hand-outs for the Commission and circulate them to our group for review prior to the meeting.
Next meeting date:
Wed., 6/10, DMH Haskell building, 1:30-2:30 pm


Family Services Meeting Minutes – 4/14/15

Family Services Committee Meeting Minutes
April 14, 2015

In attendance: Jane Banks, Center for Human Development, Bonnie Caldwell, DHCD, Sarah Cloutier, YWCA of Western Mass., Charity Day, Franklin Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority, Harry Duchesne, New England Farm Workers Council, Heidi Gold, Simtech Solutions, Donna Harris, Franklin Hampshire Career Center, Mary E. Johnson, Central West Justice Center, Cheryl LaChance, HAPHousing, Faith Lafayette, DPH FOR Families, Fran Lemay, ServiceNet Greenfield, Jane Lindfors, DTA Domestic Violence Unit, Heather Marshall, Elizabeth Freeman Center, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Jordana O’Connell, Holyoke Public Schools, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Stephen Roussel, Community Action, Hilda Santa, Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Sarah Slautterback, DESE, Janette Vigo, HAPHousing, Jennifer Wands, Springfield Public Schools

DHCD update:  Bonnie Caldwell of DHCD provided a hand-out summarizing the monthly data on families living in motels.  Click here: for the Emergency Assistance Monthly Report.

FOR Families:  FOR Families is providing services in 6 of the 7 hotels in WMass.  Mia Dixon is leaving the team 4/17/15.  With the slated closing of the Holyoke Hotel on 4/30/15 and with Mia’s departure, Mitchelly Colon will be reassigned to the EconoLodge/Chicopee and the Howard Johnson’s/Springfield.  Evelyn Montanez will continue assignment at the Holyoke Hotel until it’s closure.  Stay tuned for additional changes as May approaches.  We are seeing an increase in the number of DV placements and are noticing an uptick in placements at the Days/Holyoke and Days/Greenfield.

Shelter updates:  Valley Opportunity Council just opened 14 units in Holyoke as a congregate shelter (space formerly used for “motel families); New England Farm Workers Council opening shelter expansion (congregate/co-housing) in Holyoke – will be a total of 15-20 beds.

Overall, it was noted that shelter providers are seeing fewer out of area placements.

Nurturing Fathers Conference – Donna Nadeau provided an update on this inspirational conference.  8 dads attended, including 1 from CHD and 1 from Central Mass.  As follow-up, there is a 3 day mentoring conference in Holyoke in May.

CHD Collaboration with Enterprise Farms:  Jane Bank shared news of an exciting partnership between CHD and Enterprise Farms in Hatfield that will provide greater access to fresh vegetables and fruit to families living in shelter and motels through both farm shares and training heads of household on running farmers markets.  Two new farmers markets will be set up, one in Springfield  and one in Holyoke, through this initiative. We all agreed that this effort could be a pilot project for the region and state and also lends itself to positive media.  Congratulations to CHD!

RAFT update:  HAP shared that they have exhausted all RAFT funds for FY15.  Franklin County still has RAFT funds available but anticipates they will be spent by mid-May.

Update and discussion of Western Mass. Opening Doors Plan to End Homelessness

Pamela reminded the Committee of this Network project: the Network received state funding in FY15 to develop a regionalized version of the Western MA Opening Door Plan, a Plan based on the federal Opening Doors Plan to End Homelessness that was first released in 2010 by the US Interagency Council on Homelessness.  Its goals include ending veteran homelessness by 2015, chronic homelessness by 2016, family homelessness by 2020.  Our goal as a Network is to localize the Plan to provide a data-driven resource for measuring progress, identifying gaps and implementing action steps in response.

The Network retained Simtech Solutions to provide data tools and consulting services to develop the Plan.  We are working with Matt Simmonds and Heidi Gold of Simtech and Simtech sub-contracted with Andrea Miller, a Network veteran of data analysis and evaluation, to provide her expertise and knowledge of local efforts.

Heidi Gold presented on the Western Mass. Plan, beginning with a description of the US Opening Doors Plan and and its intersection with the HEARTH Act and HUD requirements that impact our local Continuums of Care.  She distributed a hand-out that outlined the goals of the Plan (click here).  HUD is continually releasing new data standards that are requiring communities to take a more holistic approach to homelessness.  This Plan will both better enable us to meet HUD requirements which dovetails with our own goals around preventing and ending homelessness (which dovetails with the US Opening Doors Plan).

We are currently working on the “landscape analysis” to understand our starting point.  We have dozens of providers, over a dozen data systems to report to from over a dozen funding sources!  We will use HUD’s performance measures as a basis for evaluating our own performance (as a starting point).

Committee members pointed out that one of the biggest challenges is not being able to get access to DHCD data to enable providers to understand a family’s shelter history, which would help inform the interventions and housing search.  Everyone agreed that data access across the system is critical to analyzing where families are at and how best to meet their needs.

Pamela will bring the draft Plan to the Committee in a couple of weeks for review and feedback.  The final plan will be released before June 30 (end of the fiscal year) and we are currently working with the legislature on continued funding in FY16 in order to begin the implementation process.

Next meeting: Tuesday 5/12, 9:30 – 11:00 am, location to be determined (likely DMH Haskell Building due to other Senior Center space demands)

More Budget Analyses on House Ways and Means Budget

The Massachusetts Law Reform Institute offers this initial analysis:

The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center offers this  HERE, along with this summary narrative:

The House Ways and Means Committee released its budget blueprint for fiscal year 2016. It recommends targeted investments in some important areas including early education and care, affordable housing, and opiate abuse prevention and treatment. The HWM budget also rejects some cuts proposed by the Governor, including the elimination of Kindergarten Expansion Grants.

For a full analysis of this HWM proposal, please read our Budget Monitor available HERE.

The HWM budget also proposes new cuts to some important programs including workforce training for low income parents and youth jobs and violence prevention efforts. Like the Governor’s proposal, the HWM budget relies heavily on temporary strategies. Both versions spend $300 million in capital gains tax revenue that would have gone into the Rainy Day Fund under current law. They also both count on $100 million from a tax amnesty and $116 million from putting off paying some of our FY2016 MassHealth bills into FY 2017.

Ultimately, the shortcomings of this budget proposal mirror those of the Governor’s and reflect ongoing challenges that our Commonwealth has faced for more than a decade: after cutting the income tax by over $3 billion dollars between 1998 and 2002 we have experienced deep cuts to things that strengthen our communities and our economy. Between 2001 and 2015, for instance, funding for higher education has been cut 21 percent, environmental protection and recreation (parks, swimming pools, rinks) has been cut 33 percent, local aid has been cut 44 percent, early education and care has been cut 24 percent and funding for public health has been cut 24 percent (all numbers adjusted for inflation).

Please click HERE to read the full Budget Monitor.