Family Services Meeting Minutes – 9/12/17

Family Services Meeting MInutes
September 12, 2017

In attendance: Christina Aliengena, NEFWC, Yoshi Bird, YWCA, Ellen Broadhurst, West Springfield Public Schools, Anthia Elliott, Safe Passage, Holly Florek, CHD, Lindsay Hunt, Pittsfield Community Connection, Jenise Katalina, Square One, Faith Lafayette, NEFWC, Fran Lemay, ServiceNet, Luis Martinez CHD, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Jenni Pothier, Tenancy Preservation Project, Steve Plummer, Springfield Partners, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Sarah Slautterback, DESE, Janna Tetrault, Community Action,  Janette Vigo, Way Finders, Lauren Voyer, Way Finders

DHCD and Data Announcements:

  • Jane Banks, new Associate Director of Housing Stabilization, sends her regards and regrets at not being able to make today’s meeting but is looking forward to seeing us in October.  She reported that all is well.  Pamela will relay our regards back!
  • In view of the high level DHCD staff transition and summer schedules, there has not been the usual monthly DHCD phone call with providers where statewide and regional data is shared.  This will likely happen again at the end of this month.
  • Donna Nadeau reminded all providers that Boston Housing Authority is distributing Leading the Way Home vouchers to all families who have any ties to Boston (i.e., living out here but originally from there or worked there, etc.).  This is a fantastic opportunity for a maximally mobile voucher so be sure to review status of families to determine whether a Boston connection exists.
  • Sara Slautterback reported that there are now only 41 families living in hotels, split between Waltham and Malden.
  • Sara also reported that schools reported over 21,000 homeless students in the system last year.  While this number is similar to years past, there is a large increase in doubled up families.  There were especially significant increases in New Bedford (near Amazon’s new offices) and Lowell (home of UMass Lowell).
  • CHD reported that its “front door team” diverted over 30 families into housing this past month.
  • Ellen Broadhurst of West Springfield Public Schools reported that she has seen a number of families being forced to pay for hotels themselves to avoid homelessness.

We will look forward to a more complete DHCD data update at our October meeting.

Domestic Violence/EA Work Group Report:

Yoshi Bird of the YWCA reported on behalf of the work group, which has met twice since our family services committee last met.  It includes DV providers from across all four counties as well as DTA/DV representation.  The goal is to create a workplan that will result in improved coordination between the systems (specifically integrating the work into the coordinated entry systems of each sub-region) and improved outcomes.  This requires establishing baseline measurements and creating indicators for progress, strategies for getting there and outcome measures. For example, one measure is to increase the number of families experiencing DV who access HomeBASE; another is to improve access and quality of data around families in our region who are experiencing DV.  We know we need to do better at identifying when DV is the originating reason for homelessness (and accessing EA).  We also know we need to do better at improving communication between the systems so families are not inadvertently placed near their abusers.

Jenni of TPP noted that they are working on the prevention side to collect data on their intake to track DV experience in relation to housing instability.  They are finding a very high correlation. Yoshi will follow-up to learn more about their data collection.

Yoshi and Gerry McCafferty are working together to produce a draft work plan for the working group, which is meeting again on 10/3.  We will bring a draft for this committee’s review to our next meeting on 10/10.

Override Update

The group discussed that the Legislature is taking up override votes on the Governor’s vetoes in the next couple of days.  The HCEC funding cut is especially concerning for families as is the cut to Horizons Play Spaces  which provides play spaces and child care for children in shelters. Pamela will send out a targeted email following this email with information on the override votes and how to contact your legislator.

Announcements: 

  • Holly Florek of CHD announced that she has taken Jane Banks’ place and Luis Martinez has taken Yoshi’s place (she was formerly at CHD).  They are getting up to speed!
  • Yoshi Bird announced that Kristin Peterson of the YWCA has left and Yoshi should now be the contact for the committee for any Y related inquiries.
  • Lauren Voyer of Way Finders announced that RAFT funds are being distributed through the HCECs.  The demand is very high. If anyone needs transportation help from Northampton to their Holyoke or Springfield offices for HCEC assessments, they should reach out to Luz Alvarado – ldalvarado@wayfindersma.org. Way Finders got its ESG funding renewed for its rapid re-housing program and for its Holyoke supportive housing program. Also, note that Way Finders has a new website: http://wayfindersma.org 
  • Sarah Slautterback announced that she has drafted a new RFP for school districts to encourage partnerships with housing providers. It will be released as a planning grant this Fall (to launch in Jan/Feb) as a 3 year continuation grant for roughly $75-100K per year.  School districts are eligible to apply if more than 5% of the student population is homeless. While schools must be the lead contractor, they can sub-contract with providers.
  • Janna Tatreault of Community Action reminded all that for their service area (Franklin, Hampshire, North Quabbin) their Community Resources program offers small financial assistance for utility and rent arrears, in addition to information and referrals.
  • Jenise Katalina of Square One reported on a very successful workshop for families with facilitators from Way Finders where parents were provided parenting education, housing search assistance, support in applying for SNAP and other benefits and more.  Hoping to do it again.
  • Lindsay Hunt of Pittsfield Community Connection offered a snapshot of her program: offers support services to young adults ages 17-24 years who are proven risks by virtue of being either victims or perpetrators of violent crimes or formerly incarcerated or suffering family disruption and hardship in other ways.  They are part of Berkshire Children and Families. They suffered a one-third budget cut in this last budget cycle so they had to move offices from downtown and they may lose staff.  They have 96 young people on their list and roughly 20 who are active.  She sees a lot of homelessness among the young people she serves and is glad to be connected (and the committee is glad, too).

Next meetings:

Tuesday, October 10, 1-2:30 pm, CHD

Tuesday, November 14, 9:30 am – 11:00 am, Northampton Senior Center

Tuesday, December 12, 1-2:30 pm, CHD

Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes – 9/8/17

Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes
September 8, 2017
 

In attendance:  Dan Boyea, Hampden County Sheriff’s Department, Keegan Hersey, Veterans Inc., Sue Moorman, VA, Katherine Person, Veterans Inc, Nikki Riello, Hilltown CDC, Denise Rivera, Friends of the Homeless/CSO, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Kate Sweetster-Owens, HUD VASH, Stephanie Tonelli, Friends of the Homeless/CSO, Sabrina Willard, Soldier On

Hampden County Sheriff Department Update:  Dan relayed his thanks to the VSO Association (Chris Lizotte chair, with help from Steve Connor) for providing the necessary letter requesting that contact info on current veteran inmates get forwarded to the appropriate municipality’s VSO for follow-up in the service of public safety.  This is the request they needed to make it possible for the Sheriff’s Department to provide this information. Referrals and connections are happening now (both with inmates traveling to the VSO and with the VSO traveling to the correctional facility).  This is very exciting progress and promises to reduce homelessness for formerly incarcerated veterans. Thanks to Dan and to the VSO’s for their leadership on this! We agreed that this collaboration could offer a model statewide and that we will be sure DVS is aware.
Nikki Riello of the 3 County CoC will pursue contacts in the Berkshire County Corrections to try to replicate this arrangement.
Dan also announced that he just received a promotion to Grants Coordinator for the system, but the good news is that either he or another from the Sheriff’s Dept. will continue to attend these meetings.  Congratulations to Dan!
Hampden County by-name list: At the latest meeting earlier this week, there were only 9 veterans on the list.  Great progress is being made.
Three County by-name list: Outside of Soldier On, there are 10 veterans on the list, 4 of whom are unsheltered. At Soldier On, there are 190, a significant drop from the aprox. 250 formerly sheltered there (many transitioned into permanent supportive housing).
Other 3 County updates: working on veteran referral form for other providers (modeled after Hampden County CoC referral form); working on outreach to VSO’s in more municipalities
Announcements:
  • Soldier On’s dedication of its new veteran housing (Gordon H. Mansfield Veteran Housing) in Agawam will take place on September 18, 1 pm, 702 South Westfield Street, Feeding Hills. 51 units of veteran housing, move-in date slated for end of Sept.
  • Stand Down is happening on Friday, 9/29 – Greek Cultural Center, 16 Plainfield St. Springfield
  • Northampton Housing Authority now has a trickle of HUD VASH vouchers again (formerly all used for Agawam housing but that need has no been met so acquiring vouchers through attrition, etc.).
Keegan’s update from Maine: Keegan of Veterans Inc attended a veterans committee meeting convened by the ME CoC (only one CoC for the state).  It was interesting to see their emphasis on governance and the level of prescriptive detail when contact with a veteran is made. Their goal is to ensure sustainability of the system regardless of actual individuals involved. We agreed this is an important element that deserves more attention in this region.
Keegan’s other update on Grants Per Diem (GPD): this grant in Shrewsbury is changing as of 10/1, transferring more beds to a clinical case management model.  All part of the overall shift in allocation of beds in the GPD program.
Next meeting dates:
October 27, Northampton, 9:00 -10:30
Friday, December 1, MHA, 9:15-10:30

Domestic Violence/Emergency Assistance Work Group Meeting Minutes – 9/6/17

DV/EA Working Group
Meeting Minutes – 9/6/17
 
In attendance:  Yoshi Bird, YWCA, Anthia Elliott, Safe Passage, Jane Lindfors, DTA/DV unit, Heather Marshall, Elizabeth Freeman Center, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield/Hampden County CoC, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Tonya Sparks, WomanShelter
 
Major issues identified:
  • Releases!  How do we do the work of coordinated entry and protect confidentiality? Gerry will reach out to a HUD TA person who is designated to addresses these challenges.
  • Three County CoC: how is it addressing DV needs in its mix of funded housing solutions? Heather will raise this at its next board meeting (in Oct.); Anthia will consider attending or reaching our directly to Dave.
  • DV access to HomeBASE: why has no family accessed this resource? Is it the quid pro quo of a DHCD requirement for a DV shelter to allocate a bed to an EA family suffering DV in exchange for a DV family receiving HomeBASE? Is it too stringent income eligibility requirements? Is it concern for setting up a family for the “cliff effect” when benefit is gone? We agreed we needed to separate out the policy limitations around the benefit (the cliff effect) from the administrative barriers to accessing the benefit.  We think there is a communication gap between the leadership at DHCD/DPH and the case managers/administrators of the program.  More to understand there.
  • Must address INDIVIDUALS’ access to DV resources
  • Must address DHCD system gap in failing to adequately capture DV as the truly originating reason for becoming homeless
On the draft workplan reviewed at the meeting:
On Goals (as written in this current draft):
  • On second and third “indicators” of first goal of “improve access” we need to define what it means to successfully refer and how to measure it (perhaps these two indicators will be conflated and then fleshed out through strategies)
  • Goals of “integrate DV providers in the coordinated entry effort” and “increase collaboration between DV and EA providers” should be shifted to “strategies” to achieve the goal of “improve access to resources for DV survivors”
  • Other strategies for “improve access” include resolving the release of information challenge and gaining clarity on (3 County) CoC allocation of resources in relation to DV needs
  • Add a goal that pertains to increasing access to DV services for individuals
  • On data collection goal, add outcomes: CoC will provide data it already collects on individuals and DV (HUD requires the question on its intake); and improve accuracy of data collected (possible strategy: DV providers train non-DV providers on info collection)
  • On data collection, add ascertaining more accurate number of EA families in the system due to DV (unclear on strategies)
On Action Plans:  we agreed that the format would change so the document is one work plan with each goal containing a breakdown of strategies, indicators, outcomes – and all the columns will still fit on one page!
Next meeting date: October 3, 3:30-5:00 pm, Northampton Senior Center

Advocacy Alert: Override votes tomorrow!

Please see below for  this legislative update provided by Eric Shupin, Public Policy Director at CHAPA.  To find your legislator to contact, please go here.

Also, please note that the Network’s own funding is on the table for override consideration.  Please contact your legislator to urge their support of the Network override as well and please contact Representative Peter Kocot to thank him for his steadfast leadership in support of the Network. You can reach him here: Peter.Kocot@mahouse.gov or 617-722-2430.

From CHAPA:

As an update on the FY2018 budget, the Legislature indicated that it will begin taking up the veto overrides this coming week.

State House News reported that Chairman Sãnchez is still reviewing revenue reports for July and August but that he expects the House to take up at least some budget veto overrides when it returns to formal sessions on Wednesday. The revenue reports have not included unexpected revenue to support spending that would be added back into the budget through overrides. The Department of Revenue on Wednesday reported collecting 0.9% below the monthly benchmark. Two months into fiscal year 2018, tax collections are up 1.9% but $11 million below the year-to-date benchmark, the department said.

As the House begins to take up overrides, it would be helpful to reach out to the Legislature again to remind them of our vetoed budget priorities. For a reminder of which programs experienced cuts, please click here for a fact sheet that you are welcome to use and share.

CHAPA will be at the State House on Thursday, the 14th, during our Housing Day where one of our priorities is overriding the vetoes. The event will begin at 9:30 a.m. in the Great Hall with a speaking portion until 11:00 a.m., when we will begin legislative visits. Even if you have not already registered for the event, I hope you can join us!  Chairman Sãnchez will offer closing remarks at 1:00 p.m., after we finish meetings. I also encourage you to attend then!

For more information on Housing Day at the State House, visit the event page by clicking here.