Category Archives: Best Practices


MA Selected as 1 of 10 States for Job-Driven SNAP Employment and Training

 Please see the press release below from the USDA announcing Massachusetts’ selection to participate in employment and training program for SNAP recipients.  This additional job development resource is also great news for homelessness prevention efforts.

WASHINGTON, March 2, 2016 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that 10 states have been selected to take part in SNAP to Skills, a first-of-its-kind, peer-to-peer effort to help state agencies design improved employment and training programs for adults participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in order to help them find employment and ultimately move off the SNAP program.

“Fortunately, the economy is improving in most areas of the country, but it is still very challenging for people with limited education or more basic job skills to secure full time work and better paying jobs,” said Vilsack. “Helping SNAP recipients move off the program due to higher job earnings produces a double win for the individual household and for the economy as a whole.”

States selected for SNAP to Skills include: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina and Tennessee. In October 2015, USDA announced that the Seattle Jobs Initiative would create an intensive technical assistance program to help states to build better, stronger Employment and Training (E&T) programs. These 10 states were chosen to participate based on their existing level of commitment and interest in expanding the SNAP E&T program, their ability to build effective partnerships with local training providers, and the availability of strong, job-driven workforce development programs in the state. The project will last two years, ending in September 2017.

E&T programs may include job search training, education activities (including basic skills training, English language learning, vocational training, postsecondary education), self-employment or on-the-job training, and job retention services.

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Network Trainings Offered on Motivational Interviewing, Trauma Informed Care and Critical Time Intervention

Western Massachusetts Network to End Homelessness invites you to attend a series of one-day workshops on Motivational Interviewing, Trauma Informed Care, and
Critical Time Intervention


On behalf of the Network Steering Committee, we are pleased to offer you three upcoming trainings.  This opportunity comes to you through the Commonwealth’s funding of the Network in FY16.  The training topics are a result of your feedback collected through our Network committee meetings.

All trainings are free of charge.  You may sign up for 1, 2 or 3 trainings.  Capacity is limited to 50 participants per training.  Please consider signing up only 1 or 2 staff from your organization with the intention that your staff  will bring back what is learned to your organization as a whole.

All trainings will take place at Mercy Medical Center in Springfield and lunch will be provided, thanks to the generous donation of space and food by Mercy Medical Center.  All trainings will take place from 8:30 am to 4:00 pm.

You can find detailed information on the trainings and about the trainer here.

The trainings are as follows:

Motivational interviewing: Friday, Feb. 12.  Click here to register.
Trauma Informed Care: Wednesday, April 6.  Click here to register.
Critical Time Intervention: Tuesday, June 7.  Click here to register.

We look forward to learning together.

HUD on Access for Transgender People

HUD’s Special Needs Assistance Office has sent out the following message regarding access to for transgender people to HUD-funded shelter and transitional housing programs. Please see below.

SNAPS In Focus: Equal Access for Transgender People

Transgender people face discrimination and mistreatment in many facets of their lives. These challenges not only increase the likelihood of homelessness, but they also prevent individuals in need from accessing community services. A joint report by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center on Transgender Equality in 2011 found that for those respondents who had attempted to access homeless shelters, 29% were turned away altogether, 42% were forced to stay in facilities designated for the wrong gender, and others encountered a hostile environment. 55% reported being harassed, 25% were physically assaulted, and 22% were sexually assaulted. This same joint report found that the rate of homelessness among transgender or gender non-conforming persons was nearly double that of the general population. This is unacceptable.

HUD is committed to ensuring that all persons experiencing homelessness have access to inclusive and nondiscriminatory housing. At the 2015 National Alliance to End Homelessness Conference on Ending Family and Youth Homelessness in February 2015, HUD Secretary Julián Castro stated, “It’s an injustice that any transgender person is mistreated when seeking help.” (Hear more from Secretary Castro on the proposed Gender Identity rule). For this reason, HUD published Notice CPD-15-02: Appropriate Placement for Transgender Persons in Single-Sex Emergency Shelters and Other Facilities, which provides guidance to Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG), Continuum of Care (CoC), and Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS (HOPWA) funded providers on how best to provide shelter to transgender persons in a single-sex facility and on appropriate and inappropriate inquiries related to a potential client’s sex for the purposes of placing transgender persons in temporary, emergency shelters, or other facilities with shared sleeping areas or bathrooms.

On November 20, 2015, HUD published FR-5863-P-01: Equal Access in Accordance With an Individual’s Gender Identity in Community Planning and Development Programs, which proposes to codify into law the non-discrimination practices that HUD first introduced in February 2015. The deadline for submitting comments is January 19, 2016. Your feedback is important in helping HUD to ensure that all persons experiencing homelessness have access to inclusive and nondiscriminatory shelter environments. We encourage you to read the new Proposed Rule thoroughly and submit your comments by the deadline. The instructions for submitting comments are outlined in the beginning of the Proposed Rule, and we encourage you to submit comments electronically, as this ensures that HUD receives and considers your comments in a timely manner.

Creating inclusive and welcoming communities is a fundamental part of HUD’s mission as America’s housing agency. Therefore, HUD is strongly encouraging providers to begin now to implement the best practices highlighted in CPD-15-02. HUD understands that in many communities this will require staff training and changes to program design. In the coming months we will be publishing several technical assistance materials on the HUD Exchange to help providers adopt these best practices and determine whether they have done so successfully. In the meantime, if you need assistance, please submit a question to the Ask A Question (AAQ) portal to request policy clarification or guidance. You can also find additional information on requirements related to Equal Access to housing that are already in place and resources for implementing those requirements on the HUD Exchange Equal Access to Housing Final Rule page.

Our nation is at its best when we open our arms, our minds, and our hearts to our fellow Americans in need. It’s our commitment that these resources will do their part to shape a future where all people are accepted, respected, and safely housed.

Thank you for all of your hard work,

Norm Suchar & Abby Miller

Norm Suchar is the Director of the Office of Special Needs Assistance Programs

Abby Miller specializes in LGBTQ homelessness, Fair Housing, and Data and Performance Analysis, and headed the development of the Equal Access Rule for the Office of Special Needs Assistance Programs


Recent reports on Family and Youth Homelessness

Please see below interesting reports related to family and youth homelessness that we will be discussing more in our upcoming family and youth committee meetings (see events calendar for meeting dates):

How Housing Services Can End Family Homelessness, a report issued by the Bassuk Center on Homeless and Vulnerable Children and Youth

Opening Doors: Accelerating Progress to End Youth Homelessness in 2020

Youth at Risk of Homelessness: Identifying Key Predictive Factors Among Youth Aging Out of Foster Care in Washington State



From the Zero 2016 Campaign: Leadership Training, Webinars, and Online Resources

Please see the message below from the Zero 2016 campaign. If you are part of Zero 2016 work in Hampden County and are interested in attending the Leadership Academy, please send an email to Gerry McCafferty.  Also see the notice below on upcoming webinars related to ending veteran homelessness, and online Landlord Initiative Resources.

As we’ve seen time after time through both the 100,000 Homes Campaign and Zero: 2016, it takes a team of dedicated individuals, willing to do whatever it takes, to change the status quo and create a system built for zero. The core of this team, the beating heart and soul, is a strong leader, boldly spearheading the charge, supporting the team and fearlessly leading the way through struggles, doubt and uncertainty with an unwavering commitment to reach the goal.

In an effort to support this type of leadership in each of the Zero: 2016 communities across the country, Zero: 2016 is sponsoring one leader from each community to join us in West Virginia from October 20-23 for the OrgCode Leadership Academy. This gathering will be an opportunity to share, learn, grow, network, and strengthen our community of leaders committed to our shared mission of ending homelessness.

In an effort to support this type of leadership in each of the Zero: 2016 communities across the country, Zero: 2016 is sponsoring one leader from each community to join us in West Virginia from October 20-23 for the OrgCode Leadership Academy. This gathering will be an opportunity to share, learn, grow, network, and strengthen our community of leaders committed to our shared mission of ending homelessness.

We’re also inviting all participants from Zero: 2016 communities to stick around for an extra day to join us for the Zero: 2016 Strategic Planning Session on Friday, October 23. We’ll be focusing on leveraging learnings from the Leadership Academy to accelerate the progress and impact of the movement and to begin shaping our strategy into 2016.


Webinars to Support You in Ending Veteran Homelessness As part of our effort to support each of you in ending homelessness among veterans, Zero: 2016 is offering three webinars to highlight community bright spots and offer concrete tools and tips to help replicate efforts that have proven successful. Details for these trainings are below, and calendar invites will be sent out soon. We hope you’ll join us!

By-Name List: Recommendations for Practice Tuesday, October 13: 3pm EST/12pm PST A By-Name List is a critical tool to reach functional zero and understand who in your community is experiencing homelessness at any given time. A strong By-Name List can be used to plan estimations of future rates of homelessness, including inflow and refining performance targets. Please join us to learn what’s working in Zero: 2016 communities, including effective outreach strategies, case conferencing, maintaining an updated list, tracking outcomes and measuring process effectiveness. Join the Webinar Here Event Password: zero2016

Landlord Engagement: Recruitment by Mayors Wednesday, October 14: 3pm EST/12pm PST In July, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel sent a letter to landlords requesting urgent assistance in placing veterans in their units. About 150 landlords responded, resulting in hundreds of new units for veterans experiencing homelessness. Learn about the Chicago experience as well as lessons learned by other communities in which Mayors have engaged in landlord recruitment efforts. Join the Webinar Here Event Password: zero2016

Leadership Structure Friday, October 16: 12pm EST/9am PST Leadership is critical in developing a sense of urgency to end homelessness locally, providing timely and strategic decision-making and bringing key stakeholders to the table to achieve a common goal. This webinar is focused on structures that drive strategies and create urgency to accelerate housing placement outcomes and reach shared community goals. Join the Webinar Here Event Password: zero2016


Tip of the Week: Zero: 2016 Landlord Initiative Resources! One of the most common and pressing challenges for communities trying to get to zero is finding a landlord willing to rent to homeless families and individuals. As a result, Zero: 2016 and 25 Cities launched a Landlord Initiative to assist communities in recruiting, engaging and celebrating landlords who are willing to commit units to help end veteran homelessness. The Landlord Initiative includes:

  1. A Series of webinars focusing on effective practices – (1) Building local infrastructure; (2) Sharing effective outreach strategies for Mayor-led events and outreach to small, medium, and large property management companies, and (3) Sharing effective outreach strategies with outreach to rental associations, faith, and civic communities
  2. A national landing page, hosted by Zillow, where landlords can be connected with local coordinators in their community
  3. An online Community Toolkit with resources and community examples

Learn more about the Landlord Initiative and how it can make an impact in your community here, in the fourth part of our “What Why Why” series, created by our partners at CSH.

Springfield/Hampden CoC: Seeking Your Input on Performance Goals

The Springfield/Hampden County CoC Performance and Outcomes Committee has been working very hard the last two months to create performance goals for our CoC. Over a number of meetings, the committee has thought about the individual program goals that will lead to overall system success, has reviewed data on current performance, and has considered appropriate goals for programs to strive for.

NOW IT’S YOUR TURN.  We’d like feedback on the draft goals, from the whole community, but especially from the programs that serve homeless people and will be measured.

Click to see CoC Draft Performance Goals for Public Comment.

Please provide comments to Gerry McCafferty (via email–click link to open email address) by September 18, 2015.

The Committee will review comments, make any final edits, and then recommend that the CoC Board of Directors adopt the goals at the Sept. 25, 2015 Board meeting.

News from the national Zero 2016 campaign

The following is a report on the national effort. In the diagram, Hampden County is among the 12 green communities on the veteran chart (within 10% of meeting goals) and among the blue on the chronic chart (meeting or exceeding goals).  Let’s go Hampden CoC!


Zero: 2016 Weekly Update

As we approach the final four months of the year, we’re doubling down on our efforts to help you do whatever it takes to end veteran and chronic homelessness by the end of 2016. Part of this push centers around ensuring that each and every community involved with the movement is fully invested in the goal and understands what it means to reach functional zero.

To that end, we’ll be hosting an All Hands on Deck Call on Thursday, September 10 to present our path forward, review the definition of functional zero, and answer any questions you may have. You’ll be receiving a calendar invite more more details and RSVP information soon, but in the meantime, please save the date for the Zero: 2016 All Hands on Deck call on Thursday, September 10 at 2pm ET/11am PT.

Tip of the Week: Three Tricks to Enhance Your By-Name List

Throughout the month of August, Zero: 2016 is working with 19 communities to better understand how a by-name list is defined and identify best practices that can be used to create and sustain a list that accurately reflects the number of people experiencing homelessness at any given time in your community. We will be packaging and sharing our learning with all communities in the near future, but in the meantime, here a few highlights of what we’ve learned:

  1. Coordinating outreach among the outreach providers in your community is key to maintaining a dynamic list. Outreach can be used to build your by-name list and to work your list.
  2. Training outreach workers to serve as housing navigators will increase efficiency of housing placement and coordination of services.
  3. Case conferencing and access to the list is critical to keeping it updated, reducing duplication, and ensuring accountability to each individual on your list.

Stay tuned for additional guidance!