Western MA Health Equity Summit – 11/18, UMass Amherst



Dear Colleagues,

I’m excited to announce the 2ND Western Massachusetts Health Equity Summit will take place on FridayNovember 18, 20169-3pm. The Summit will bring together practitioners and community leaders from across our four counties. We’ll work, learn, and take important steps toward greater health equity in Western MA.

Hear from  the 10-member Coalition of Western MA Hospitals/Insurer regarding their 2016 Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) and the Berkshire County Health Initiative.

Participate in networking and collaboration opportunities.

Hear about Data, Stories & Best Practices from communities in our 4 counties working on health equity issues.

Keynote: Rep. Aaron Vega (Holyoke)

To register: http://wmhes.umass.edu/ for more information. Low or no-cost transportation available.

If you have questions, please contact the UMass Amherst Office for Public Health Practice and Outreach at the School of Public Health and Health Sciences: at (413)-545-2529, email: risa@schoolph.umass.edu.

We look forward to seeing you there!

New England Summit on Ending Youth Homelessness: November 18, Boston

Save the Date!

The New England Federal Regional Interagency Council on Homelessness in partnership with the Liberty Mutual Foundation and the Melville Charitable Trust invites you to attend:

A New England Summit on Ending Youth Homelessness
November 18, 2016 from 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
Liberty Mutual Headquarters
175 Berkeley Street, Boston, Massachusetts

Featured speakers include
Rafael Lopez, Commissioner
Administration on Children, Youth, and Families
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
and other national and state leaders working to end homelessness by 2020 

Make connections with federal, state, and local partners, community leaders, and other stakeholders committed to ending youth homelessness, and gain knowledge on policy, programs, and resources targeted towards ending youth homelessness.

Seating is limited. Registration information is forthcoming.

The New England Federal Regional Interagency Council on Homelessness is supported by:

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ● U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs ● Social Security Administration ● U.S. Department of Labor
U.S. Department of Education ● U.S. Department of Agriculture

For more information, please contact: josephine.hauer@acf.hhs.gov

Individual Services Meeting Minutes – 10/6/16

Individual Homelessness Committee Meeting
October 6, 2016

In attendance: Elizabeth Bienz, ServiceNet, Brittany Billmeyer-Finn, Franklin Resource Center, Carl Cignoni, Hampshire Sheriffs Office, DOC Reentry Services, Steve Connor, Veterans Services, Toni Dolan, Veterans Services, Charlie Knight, former consumer, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS Homeless Services, Kim Majewski, Gandara Center, Terry Maxes, SMOC, Scott McAllister, Veterans Services, Patty McDonnell, SMOC, Dave Modzelewski, Network, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Sarah Tanner, Friends of the Homeless

Hampden County CoC:

Sarah Tanner reported on Bill Miller’s attendance at a Zero 2016 conference that both celebrated the progress towards ending homelessness and examined best practices as they would apply to ending individual chronic homelessness. There was focus on coordinated entry and the use of by-name lists and Friends of the Homeless is continuing to participate in brainstorming and planning sessions. The campaign will rename itself from Zero 2016 (the year will pass soon!) to Build for Zero (unanimous approval!).

Friends of the Homeless is implementing its coordinated entry system now. It recently posted for 2 job positions as housing navigators, examining best system for access (looking at a 1-800 number, e.g.,).

Dave Modzelewski reported that REACH is meeting twice monthly in Hampden County and will be using one of those meetings to zero in on the hardest to serve individuals. He also noted the challenge of acquiring the necessary documentation (and putting it into the Homelink data base) to verify that an individual is chronically homeless (especially under HUD’s new definition). The CoC is working with the police department and hospitals to build systems for documenting conditions. Dave noted that follow-up with HUD on these barriers would be useful (Pamela will follow-up with Gerry on this).

Three County CoC:
Steve Connor announced the 3 County CoC Veterans Training, 10/20, 3-4:30, Northampton Senior Center and Berkshire Regional Housing Authority in Pittsfield; this is aimed at frontline staff and volunteers of organizations that may intersect with veterans (from libraries to food pantries, e.g.) and provide information and education about how best to direct veterans to appropriate services

On coordinated assessment: The 3 County CoC has chosen to pilot a version of the AZ Matrix tool for their assessment tool (as opposed to the VI-SPDAT). This tool, shorter with arguably a more trauma informed care approach than the VI-SPDAT, is being piloted by Eliot Homeless Services and ServiceNet (in the Berkshires), as well as by providers in Amherst. Assessments will be submitted to Andrea Miller, the 3 county data analyst. We will await more information around timeline for review and timeline for the pilot. The group agreed that using 2 different assessment tools across the region affords an opportunity to compare the utility of each and refer to the other if one produces a score that does not seem consistent with the individual’s vulnerability.   It remains to be determined whether the 3 County by-name list review will take place within REACH meetings or through ServiceNet provider meetings.

Confidentiality Training:
Marianne Winters, executive director of Safe Passage, provided the group with a brief training on protecting confidentiality when assisting a person in housing crisis who has suffered domestic violence. Please click here for the materials that were distributed and contain a breakdown of the basic concepts covered.

The group acknowledged the tension of wanting to provide relevant information (e.g., geographical location, family size) in search of a housing solution but affirmed the critical importance (as well as legality) of protecting all identifying information. This is especially vital when domestic abuse is involved.

The training confirmed the following principles and protocol:

  • No identifying information should ever be sent out over email. This is especially critical for the Network as it communicates with hundreds of people on various email lists. The group email list should never be used to problem solve individual housing crises. Please feel free to email Pamela individually, without identifying information, regarding a request for assistance and Pamela will assist in providing the appropriate referral.
  • The right to privacy belongs to each person; our responsibility is to protect that right.
  • The Violence Against Women Act sets out very clear parameters, e.g., only aggregate, non-personally identifying information may be released.
  • Very explicit, legally verifiable releases of information are necessary to release any personal information.
  • Safe Passage is available for phone calls for consultation around emergency housing issues. Please contact:  Anthia Elliott – 413.586.1125anthia@safepass.org or our 24/7 hotline – 413.586.3742

Other Updates:

RAFT is now available on a pilot basis to individuals via each regional housing authority. Jay asked for the appropriate contact at HAP. Pamela will find out and report back to the group.

Network Update: Pamela reported that the Network is still waiting for its contract from DHCD and was advised that it must wait until revenue figures are in for the third quarter to determine whether 9C cuts are required (the Network as an earmark would be vulnerable). Pamela will keep everyone posted.

Next meeting: November 3, 10:30-noon, Friends of the Homeless

Secure Jobs Advisory Committee Meeting Minutes – 10/5/16

Secure Jobs Advisory Committee Meeting
October 5, 2016

In attendance: Ashley Brehm, HAP, Bud Delphin, Dawn DiStefano, Square One, CareerPoint, George Kohout, STCC, Representative Peter Kocot, Joanne LaCour, DTA, Lisa Lapierre, Franklin Hampshire Career Center, Madeline Martinez, HAP, Maegan Pedemonti, HAP, George Ryan, Hampden County Regional Employment Board, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Maricelli Serrano, BerkshireWorks, Chris Skerritt, HAP, Representative Aaron Vega

Secure Jobs Progress Report – September 2016
Click here for report.
32 placements thus far this fiscal year (total goal for year – 37 – will far exceed!)
413 placements over all years
$12.61 average wage for September
$11.98 for the year thus far – making steady progress on increasing hourly wage

Housing retention data newly available and the numbers show:
41 families in job placements through Secure Jobs have moved from HomeBase subsidies to private market apartments
56 families living in shelter have been placed (and are in process of moving to housing)
4 families have moved from shelter to HomeBase to private housing

Representative Kocot inquired about the families being served in Franklin, Hampshire and Berkshire Counties. Ashley noted that HAP is entering into performance based contracts with Franklin/Hampshire Career Center and BerkshireWorks; families will have access to same support on an as needed basis.

Representative Kocot was interested to know the numbers of families who would qualify for Secure Jobs services in the 3 county region (i.e., what is the need). Pamela will follow-up with Representative Kocot to provide some additional data on the population.

Update on DHCD/DTA discussion re: future agency home for Secure Jobs
Pamela and Ashley reported on last week’s statewide “Learning Lab” at DHCD where the agenda focused on the question of whether Secure Jobs will move to DTA for its agency home. Linn Torto, Executive Director of the MA ICHH, is spearheading conversation among all the relevant state agencies on this question, and both ICHH and DHCD are committed to program participation in this discussion and decision. We learned that DTA is interested in this possibility and it may provide greater leveraging of resources and greater advocacy benefiting the families Secure Jobs serves. At the same time, there is concern that not all families served by SJ are “DTA families” (i.e., eligible for their benefits, TAFDC or SNAP), that the criteria for eligibility is based on DHCD’s EA eligibility. There was also discussion about having DHCD and DTA enter MOU’s to ensure a shared understanding of the terms of cooperation and collaboration. Linn is scheduling a meeting with the DTA commissioner and there will be representatives from each of the SJ programs invited to attend. We will keep the group posted on the discussion as it unfolds.

Both Representative Kocot and Representative Vega noted that they are not concerned about where the program lives per se but how best to break down silos and serve all families in need.

Policy Discussion:

We discussed the most pressing policy issues impacting Secure Jobs’ success: child care, public transportation, language barriers (demand for more ESL courses), and housing resources.

In terms of Secure Jobs’ viability, it is key to maintain flexibility around use of resources that will best meet families’ barriers to housing (e.g., from paying back rent to fixing a car).

On child care, the low rate of reimbursement by EEC is such that centers are closing across the state (including in our region); they simply can’t afford to stay open with such a low rate and with a policy that only pays for children if they attend on a given day (so missed days go unpaid; extremely difficult to run a center on that basis).

The need for greater public transportation to serve workers on later shifts and in rural areas everywhere poses an immense barrier.

On language learning, there is not enough capacity in the ESL programs to meet the need. At the same time, WIOA is demanding a move away from language support, instead focusing on the “job ready,” those dislocated, laid off workers.

Lisa Lapierre – public transportation – the problems related to public transportation and the impact on job accessibility are well-documented.

Rep. Kocot and Rep. Vega shared their wish that the region could come together and prioritize how to best serve this population so there would be less competition every budget season. We acknowledged that the Network attempts to do precisely that but at the same time while there is generalized sign-on of priorities, each organization also maintains its own priorities. With limited resources and pressing need, this tension is almost impossible to avoid. But we will take their feedback and continue the dialogue on how best to coordinate our asks. We will continue the conversation at our next meeting (11/2, 11:12:30); will explore Holyoke Computer Center as alternative meeting location.