Overcoming Tenant Screening Barriers: PowerPoint Presentation

Last Thursday, October 4, the Network hosted a training on Overcoming Tenant Screening Barriers at Holyoke Community College. Over 60 people attended from across the 4 Western Counties.  Attorney Jane Edmonstone from Community Legal Aid offered an excellent training, which included this PowerPoint Presentation. I wanted to offer it to you all!

Attorney Edmonstone is happy to offer similar community based organizations to your own organization or a group of organizations on this topic. Feel free to contact her at jedmonstone@cla-ma.org with an inquiry of this nature.  To make an inquiry about an individual case, please go to this page on CLA’s website to find out the process.

Finally, Esther Darko, an attorney with Central-West Justice (a sister organization of CLA), also offered her assistance, especially in situations where housing applicants are suffering barriers as a result of being a victim of a crime (e.g., sexual assault or domestic violence).  You can reach her at edarko@cwjustice.org or 413-727-7102.

Thanks to our partners in the legal community for their great work!

Cliff Effects Conference – November 28

Save the date from the Commonwealth Workforce Coalition:

We are pleased to announce our event on Cliff Effects: Progress and Possibilities to be held on November 28th at the Trinity Lutheran Church in Worcester from 9:30 – 3:30.

Learn about the latest initiatives and policy efforts to address cliff effects, and engage in peer learning to develop solutions.

Stay tuned for more details and registration information coming soon!

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting Minutes – 9/28/18

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting Minutes
September 28, 2018

In attendance: Emily English, Gandara Center, Rosemary Fiedler, HCC, Lisa Goldsmith, DIAL/SELF, Ann Lentini, Domus, Inc., Gerry McCafferty, Hampden County CoC, Rebecca Muller, GrantWorks, Lizzy Ortiz, Mercy Medical, Mena Regan, CHD, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Martha Sandoval, Baystate Pediatrics, Julie Vital, Baystate Pediatrics

Coordinated Entry goals review and discussion:

Our two CoC’s are participating in a year-long technical assistance learning collaborative offered by MANY (Mid-Atlantic Network for Youth) with web-based phone calls every 6 weeks.  There have been 3 calls so far. The focus now is on integrating Coordinated Entry into the youth homelessness system; that is, developing a single by-name list of homeless youth across each CoC, with each person assessed for their vulnerabilities and needs by a single assessment tool, with all providers using this same tool and this same by-name list.  The ultimate goal is to be able to best prioritize the available resources for the youth in need of them and to gain a thorough understanding of needs, gaps and how best to fill them.  Current participants in these calls across the two regions include Emily English, Gandara Center, Jean Rogers, CHD, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield/Hampden CoC, Lisa Goldsmith, DIAL/SELF.

Hampden County began its youth by-name list last Spring. They include people who are doubled-up or couch surfing (even though HUD doesn’t “count” them) as well as people in shelter or on the street; they are also collecting data on LGBTQ. They have begun to collect data and are identifying their gaps and determining how to collect in the future.  They are now on two national dashboards:

The MANY dashboard (includes only communities participating in this learning collaborative):

https://public.tableau.com/profile/margaret.woley#!/vizhome/CELCDashboard/CoordinatedEntryLearningCollaborativeDashboard

A Way Home America – includes all data on youth from across the country

http://www.awayhomeamerica.org/community-dashboard/

Hampden County’s goal over this period is to bring 5 new providers into the coordinated entry system, e.g., ROCA, YWCA, HCC, Baystate, Impact Center.  Gerry will schedule a training to orient providers on how to refer a youth into the system.

Three County CoC: It is also starting on collecting similar data with a goal to get on the national dashboards.  Additional goals include conducting an analysis of their current by-name list, integrating it into the weekly coordinated entry meetings occurring across the region, determining which agencies are doing assessments and conducting outreach to increase the number of providers participating.  DIAL/SELF, ServiceNet and Eliot CHS-Homeless services are leading partners in this effort with DIAL/SELF at the helm.

Youth Action Board: The Hampden County CoC has applied twice for HUD’s Youth Homelessness Demonstration Project (YHDP) but scored just out of range to get funded. Another round of funding will be made available this year and the CoC will try again. The biggest gap in the application is the lack of a Youth Action Board, a youth led group that is driving policies and procedures around addressing this challenge.

The group discussed the Impact Center (SAMHSA and DMH funded) which has a youth led advisory board called Youth Voice.  Click here for the flyer. Rebecca will reach out to initiate a meeting with them (with Gerry) to discuss if/how they would like to get more involved in state and federal youth homelessness work (e.g., the state funding coming soon as well as HUD funding). The data shows that the Impact Center has seen 130 “unique” youth in the first 5 months, about 20% of whom were considered housing unstable.  All agreed it would be great to support development of this group in order to gain their active participation in identifying gaps and challenges to meeting needs of at-risk youth, as well as developing their own leadership skills in the process.

Racial disparity analysis:  We began a discussion of the findings from the racial disparity analysis required by HUD but agreed we did not have enough time so will instead devote a substantial part of our next meeting to this issue.  Pamela will send out materials in advance.

Network FY19 Earmark: Pamela reported that the Network Steering Committee has made a proposal to DHCD for allocating its $125,000 earmark, which will include: (1) flexible funds for prevention and rapid re-housing (distributed 60-40% between Hampden and Three County CoC based on population), which will also include the opportunity to explore pilot funding strategies to engage more landlords with incentives or mitigation; and (2) training funds to support the professional development and system building across the region, relying on nationally recognized experts in the field.

Network Legislative Event:  The Steering Committee decided to host a legislative gathering on Friday, November 16, 1 pm – 3 pm, at Greenfield Community College (the Dining Commons) to meet the 5 new presumed legislators from the Upper Pioneer Valley (candidate Jo Comerford for State Senate, and for State Representative: Natalie Blais, Dan Carey, Mindy Domb and Lindsay Sabadosa).  It will also include other current Western MA legislators, the region’s mayors and other locally elected officials. All are welcome!  If you are interested in attending, register here.

Rapid re-housing training: Lisa and Emily shared an update on the MHSA training they helped lead on rapid re-housing for youth.  It was informative and supportive.  One take-away: stabilization needs for youth require more time than for the typical adult population, from 1.5-2 years as opposed to the standard 1 year. It was very useful to be together with other youth providers from across the state.

Next meeting dates/times:

Wed., 10/17 – 9 am – 10:30 am, Donahue Building, Room 340, HCC

Wed., 11/14, 9 am – 10:30 am, Frost Building, Room 309, HCC

Wed., 12/12, 9 am – 10:30 am, Frost Building, Room 301A, HCC

 

 

 

Hampden County Individual Services Meeting Minutes – 9/25/18

Hampden County Individual Services Committee
September 25, 2018

In attendance:  Grechar Aquino, FOH/CSO, Jesus Arce, City of Springfield, Olivia Bernstein, MHA, Jennifer Bisceglia, Dept. of Correction, Nichole Bodiford, FOH/CSO, Ashley Brehm, Way Finders, Steve Connor, Veterans Services, John Fisher, Way Finders, Fina Fulla-Kay, City of Springfield, Dave Havens, Mental Health Association, Sarah Hills, Eliot CHS Homeless Services, Janice Humason, Friends of the Homeless/CSO, Charlie Knight, Rainville, Jen Lucca, Samaratin Inn, Bill Miller, FOH/CSO, Lizzy Ortiz, Mercy Medical, John Paglier, Mercy Medical Center, Christine Ruest, FOH/CSO, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Dennis Sheehan, FOH/CSO, Denise Rivera, FOH/CSO, Paul Thomas, Dept. of Correction, Stephanie Tonelli, FOH/CSO, Kathy West, Eliot-CHS, Lynn White, Viability, Delphine Wray, FOH/CSO

RAFT available for individuals: Ashley Brehm of Way Finders presented on RAFT prevention benefits that are available this fiscal year to individuals facing eviction. Please contact Ashley for more details about program eligibility, etc. at abrehm@wayfindersma.org.

Welcome to Jen Bisceglia and Paul Thomas of Reentry Service Division, MA Dept. of Correction: Jen and Paul attended to begin to establish more active relationships with Western MA providers as part of their housing search efforts for people being released from prison.  While there are no state prisons in Western MA, Springfield is the third highest release destination (behind Boston and Cambridge). We will continue to connect on our rapid rehousing efforts and other housing options in the area.

Built for Zero Update: Gerry reported that the next Learning Collaborative is mid-October.  Attendees will return with “action items” and at our next meeting the committee will discuss and brainstorm how to make progress.

The monthly report was distributed (click here). At the end of August, the by-name list was at 93 individuals. That is now creeping upwards (July was 85; a year ago this month it was 62).  Contributing factors: people are kept on the list longer now before being removed; more people living on the streets have been housed which has created an internal “referral” loop that has more people seeking housing. Good news is that housing has been identified for 20 of these 93  individuals so we can anticipate good “exit” data next month.

 

Holyoke partnerships continue to grow, including ongoing meetings with Holyoke housing providers, health care providers and the police department. The Holyoke Housing Authority has also agreed to set aside 10-15 Section 8 vouchers for chronically homeless individuals – this is a great advance!  The CoC has also funded an additional 6 housing units for chronically homeless people.

 

A committee work plan for FY19:

Per the Network Steering Committee’s request, this committee discussed developing a work plan for FY19, including broad goals and strategies.  We had an initial brainstorm, building off of the Built for Zero campaign that is currently underway.  We agreed we would focus on the items raised in this discussion at our next month’s meeting.

 

A recap of Build for Zero’s broader goals: 

  • increase number of housing placements for chronically homeless people
  • increase the speed at which they happen
  • decreasing the inflow into homelessness

The overarching pursuit: how do we get more resources and how do we use them better

 

One upcoming resource is another round of mainstream vouchers being made available to housing authorities in October and January.  How do we get as many housing authorities as possible to apply for these vouchers across the region, including Amherst and Greenfield. Steve Connor agreed to reach out to these housing authorities to advocate for their acquisition of these vouchers. Committee members also noted the critical importance of support services alongside these vouchers in order for the housing to work.

 

The non-chronic homeless population: members noted the need to focus on this population as well, to better identify who they are, their experience of homelessness and their needs to get and stay stable.  Employment and income needs are a crucial part of this conversation.

 

CoC – ESG standards:  Gerry noted that the CoC will be launching a process to re-examine its ESG standards. Stay tuned for more.

 

Network earmark update: The Steering Committee met and has a proposal into DHCD for its $125,000 earmark which will include the creation of a flexible fund for prevention and rapid re-housing across the region as well as substantial training opportunities for our providers. The flexible fund will also include the opportunity to pilot the use of landlord mitigation and incentive funds to create housing options for difficult-to-house tenants (modeled on best practices in other parts of the country).  The proposed budget and Scope of Services are being reviewed by DHCD now.

 

Network Legislative event:  The Steering Committee decided to host a legislative gathering on Friday, November 16, 1 pm – 3 pm, at Greenfield Community College (the Dining Commons) to meet the 5 new presumed legislators from the Upper Pioneer Valley (candidate Jo Comerford for State Senate, and for State Representative: Natalie Blais, Dan Carey, Mindy Domb and Lindsay Sabadosa).  If you are interested in attending, register here.

 

Next meeting date: Tuesday, October 23, 1 pm – 2 pm, followed by case conferencing til 2:30 pm.