Draft Western MA Opening Doors Plan Available for Review!

We are so pleased to share with you the first draft of Western MA Opening Doors: An Action Framework to Prevent and End Homelessness.  Made possible with support from the Commonwealth through the extraordinary commitment of our Western MA legislative delegation, this Plan will drive our ongoing collective impact work to meet the goals of the Federal Opening Doors Plan on a local level.

We welcome your feedback on this Plan.  Please provide your comments by email to Pamela Schwartz at pschwartz77@gmail.com  by Friday, June 12 or attend a Committee meeting (dates outlined below) for further discussion. We will be releasing a final Plan by June 30, the end of this fiscal year.  However, the Plan is by definition an ever-evolving document so refinement and implementation will continue without an end-date as we do the work.

The region is hosting a Systems Design Clinic offered by the National Alliance to End Homelessness on June 3 – June 4, which will be our first opportunity for collective feedback. There will be many immediate opportunities to follow, and we encourage your participation wherever possible:

Family Services Committee Meeting: Tuesday, June 9, 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm, New England Farm Workers Council, 225 High Street, Holyoke

Veterans Committee: Friday, June 12, 9 am – 10:30 am, DMH Haskell Building, One Prince Street, Northampton

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee: Wednesday, June 17, 10 am – 11:30 am, Northampton Senior Center, 67 Conz Street, Northampton

Secure Jobs Advisory Committee: Tuesday, June 23, 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm, Holyoke Community College, Frost Building, Barrett Room

Individual Services Committee: to be determined (and I will update the blog once confirmed)

Click here to get the Plan.  Thank you for your partnership.

Pamela Schwartz, Director
Western Massachusetts Network to End Homelessness

Network Presentation to Special Commission to Reduce Sex Offender Recidivism

On May 28, Pamela Schwartz, on behalf of the Network’s Work Group to House People with Sex Offense Histories, presented before the statewide Special Commission to Reduce Sex Offender Recidivism.  It was a fantastic opportunity to bring the Work Group’s efforts to the forefront, providing our cumulative insight and inspiration to the 40 leaders in the room committed to statewide reform of policies impacting sex offenders.  Read more on the Commission here.  Read the Network’s powerpoint presentation to the Commission here.

We are especially grateful to Dr. Laurie Guidry, President of the MA Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers and a Commission member, who has provided pro bono guidance for our efforts since our work group formed in 2011.  We are also grateful to Larni Levy, attorney for Committee for Public Counsel Services, who welcomed us as a featured presenter on the “collateral consequences” of treatment of sex offenders.

We captured the data and our experience to advocate for evidence-based reform of the state leveling system.  We made it compellingly clear that denying housing to sex offenders only undermines our community’s public safety goals and our desire for offenders to positively re-integrate into the community.

We clearly established our Work Group as a resource that can provide innovative support in this reform effort.  We look forward to continuing to partner with the Commission in the work that lies ahead.

Congratulations to all involved that brought us to this day.  It is a slow road to change on this complex and difficult issue, and we can take pride in offering our leadership to make it happen.

Secure Jobs Advisory Meeting Minutes of 5/19/15

Secure Jobs Advisory Committee
May 19, 2015

In attendance: Toni Bator, HAPHousing, Sara Chaganti, Brandeis, Bud Delphin, CareerPoint, Ken Demers, BerkshireWorks, Donna Harris, Franklin Hampshire Career Center, Joanne Lacour, DTA, Lisa Lapierre, Corporation for Public Management, Darlene Morse, CareerPoint, Bob Wojcik, CareerPoint, Pamela Wojtkowski, Corporation for Public MAnagement

April Progress Reports – click here for monthly report and here for comparative analysis among programs  

For DHCD Hampden County project:

101 enrollments
65 employed
101 % of enrollment goal
81% of entered employment goal
78% of 1 year job retention goal

Discussion: Fantastic progress over the last 2 months. Congratulations to all for the ongoing effort to meet the challenges and create a truly successful collaboration. Bi-weekly case management meetings in Hampden County made a significant difference, enabling the team to zero in on each client, catching any problems that threatened program enrollment and job placement. Job retention efforts and communication in general both improved dramatically. Great work!

The May cohort is happening now while they are working on filling the June cohort. It is very possible the program will meet all goals.

On referral to placement analysis: 410 referrals total thus far has translated into 101 enrollments, about 4 referrals to each enrollment

Budget review: $605 remaining for Network. Pamela will check in with HAP about allocation of those funds.
Funding for Lisa’s position ends as of 6/30.
Assuming all program funding ends, existing clients will be transitioned to CareerPoint oversight (although additional case management around related issues such as child care, transportation will not be available)

WHEN project (serving all 4 counties) (Commonwealth Corp funding)

Moved from 8 placed in March to 16 individuals placed in April
The majority placed are in Hampden County and Franklin County.

Referrals: 157 translates to 36 enrollments
21 enrollments in Hampden County; remainder in Berkshire/Franklin. All but Hampden have been transitioned to performance based contracts (will bill for placements)

Commonwealth Corp conducted a site visit a couple of weeks ago. It went well. They discussed the billing challenges and the time lag on invoices. It was noted that Career Centers are raising these same issues with CommCorp and Ken Demers will check in with his colleagues later this week to discuss where this intervention is going. It was agreed that our advisory committee should not weigh in further until we hear more from the career centers (let that conversation run its course and evaluate outcomes).

Meanwhile, Darlene’s administrative support on the WHEN project has made a huge difference in billing capacity (thank you, Darlene!).

Fireman project (for Berkshire, Franklin, Hampshire)
8 individuals enrolled in the program. We welcomed CPM’s new hire for the Berkshire program – Pamela Wojtkowski – who will be starting in earnest this coming week. It’s very exciting to get devoted staff back on the project.

Referrals: 24 referrals (13 from Berkshires, 11 from Franklin) to 8 enrollments, about 1 in 3

The Berkshire program will be focusing on RAFT clients (a pilot for the whole state). We agreed that we need to take stock of referral/enrollment/placement rate to ensure the three counties can meet goals and determine if any reallocation is in order. As of 7/1, lead agency for Fireman will shift from HAP to CPM and this will be a natural time to take stock.

Fireman budget review: $171,944 remaining.

Overall Secure Jobs management: with the end of Lisa’s position as of 6/30 – and future funding for DHCD program in question – the WHEN and Fireman programs will need continued management (both continue through 2016). It is currently unclear how that will be provided. Lisa awaits further information from CPM management.

State Advocacy Update: Pamela reported that the Senate was debating the Secure Jobs amendment right now; that the programs statewide were working hard on the Senate adoption of Senator Barrett’s amendment to increase funding to $2 million statewide. We will know more in the next day or so.

Evaluation update: Brandeis has received an extension so it can analyze data through June 30. All programs have been asked to collect data on clients’ housing changes. This is very challenging!

Summer child care issues: thus far, all has been quiet on that front, therefore assuming needs are met until further notice.

Next meeting: Tuesday, 6/23, 3:30-4:30, Holyoke Community College to be confirm



Senate Budget Update

The Senate passed its budget last Thursday.  We are vey grateful to our Western MA Senators for their advocacy and support of Network priorities.

It’s now onto Conference Committee where the House and Senate will work out its differences.  Below is a breakdown of our priorities and next steps:

  • Secure Jobs received $750,000 in the Senate budget (up from $600,000 proposed in Senate Ways and Means and $500,000 in House budget), along with directive language to state agencies to work to support additional funding.  We will advocate for adoption of the Senate proposal in the final budget.
  • Housing Consumer Education Centers did not receive the desired restoration of funding to FY14 funding levels in the Senate budget (it was level funded, with earmarks to other programs included).  We will advocate for adoption of the House budget’s funding allocation to the HCECs.
  • Funding for individual emergency shelters received a slightly greater increase in the Senate budget than the House, but neither budget addresses the regional disparities in funding that will result in Friends of the Homeless in Springfield sustaining significant cuts.  We will advocate for the higher Senate amount to be used to help close the gap.  To learn more, see this informative article from the Springfield Republican.  Big thanks to Senator Humason, Senator Lesser and Senator Welch to address this issue.
  • Tenancy Preservation Project received $500,000 in the Governor, House and Senate budgets.  We were advocating with state partners for an increase to $1 million but clearly level funding of $500,000 is what it will be.
  • Unaccompanied homeless youth housing and wraparound services received $2 million in the Senate budget (no funding was allocated in the House budget).  The Senate proposal is a very exciting step forward for serving this population and we will be advocating to maintain it.
  • Network funding of $125,000 to support coordination and implementation of its regional Plan to End Homelessness did not get funded in the Senate budget.  We will continue to advocate for adoption of the House provision that will fund the Network.  Big thanks to Senator Downing and Senator Lesser for their leadership on this issue.

I am also passing along below the Mass. Coalition for the Homeless more comprehensive update on the Senate budget.

Please stay tuned for Conference Committee action alerts!

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