Category Archives: Meeting Minutes

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 – 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.

Family Services Committee Meeting Minutes – 9/27/16

Family Services Committee Meeting Minutes
September 27, 2016

In attendance: Jane Banks, CHD, Bonnie Caldwell, DHCD, Hillary Cronin, VAMC, Juan Cruz, NEFWC, Dawn DiStefano, Square One, Jill Fijal, Chicopee Public Schools, Jamal Jacobs, Community Action, Faith Lafayette, DPH, Jane Lindfors, DTA DV unit, Heather Marshall, Elizabeth Freeman House, Gemini Murray, NEFWC, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Kristin Peterson, YWCA, Steve Plummer, Springfield Partners for Community Action, Jenni Pothier, Tenancy Preservation Program, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Tanya Sparks, WomanShelter, Janna Tetreault, Community Action, Luz Vega, WomanShelter, Janette Vigo, HAP, Lauren Voyer, HAP, Amanda Watson, Franklin County Regional Housing Authority, Mandy Winalski, Community Legal Aid, MaryAnne Woodbury, ServiceNet,

Data Update

Pamela reported that the most up-to-date DHCD data will be made available on tomorrow’s statewide DHCD conference call and she will relay it to the committee after the call. We exchanged information more informally and confirmed that there are no families living in motels in Western MA right now (and statewide the number is down to 272). While this is great news, the reality continues that families are entering the system at the same rate (anecdotally reported) and the demand for affordable, decent housing remains extremely high and finding housing placements, especially for larger families with multiple challenges, continues to be very challenging.

Right now there are roughly 450 families in emergency shelter beds in Western MA and that does not include families in DV shelters or refugees (more refugees slated to arrive in Western MA in the coming months).

Donna Nadeau pointed out that the Western MA housing placement rate is among the highest in the state. Our providers are doing a fantastic job under these difficult circumstances.

Work Plan Review (Hampden County): 

Gerry produced a draft work plan for Hampden County (click here). This can also serve as a springboard for 3 County and the region as a whole. The group reviewed the work plan and agreed we would discuss in more depth at our next meeting. Questions and comments included:

  • Under 2nd strategy around coordinated entry – conduct strategy session to identify ways to better coordinate with DV services – Jane Banks provided an update on its meeting (along with Safe Passage) with Full Frame Initiative and Homes for Families to continue the dialogue on improving the response system for families experiencing domestic violence. We will stay tuned on next steps.
  • Clarification needed for action step under second strategy around coordinated entry: “conduct strategy session(s) to identify ways to better coordinate prevention and PSH with shelter” – would like to better understand what the concept is around coordination
  • There was agreement that increasing affordable housing is a linchpin to success in ending homelessness but the question is if/where the Network Committee work intersects with this goal (i.e., other entities working on this, e.g., the regional housing network and other housing development groups; also HAP’s development projects but Lauren pointed out that the process is slow – one building a year if lucky – and complex). The group agreed that the needs are different in each region, for example, here in Western MA we have more abandoned buildings that could be rehabbed (NEFWC is doing this right now with a building in Springfield); in Boston there is a far greater gap in available housing. Lauren suggested a review of HCEC’s booklet on housing search.

We agreed at our next meeting to allocate some time on our agenda to hear from HAP (Toni, Lauren) around Housing Search strategies as well as an update on RAFT’s expansion of eligibility to include individuals.   Lauren will bring findings from HAP’s survey to landlords around their barriers/incentives for renting to families who are receiving HomeBASE.

Three County CoC Update:

Janna Tetrault of Community Action updated the group that Consortium funding has been spent (all on prevention; not enough funding to hire a coordinator); youth funding is being administered through DIAL/SELF and funding still remains (contact DIAL/SELF if you are working with a parenting youth at risk of homelessness).


Faith Lafayette of FOR families noted that with the end of motel use in the region, their staff is transitioning into shelter work (4 staff in Western MA) with HAP and NEFWC shelters. Getting referrals for families who have substance use or mental health issues or otherwise difficulty functioning.

Jill Fijal of Chicopee Public Schools provided an update on McKinney-Vento: the legislation was reauthorized and included some important changes: as of Oct. 1, any student has the right to stay in their feeder school in their home district if in shelter when ending one phase of schooling, e.g, from elementary to middle school. Also as of 12/11, children in foster care are no longer covered by McKinney-Vento, which means they are not provided transportation under M-V legislation. It remains to be seen how the transportation costs will be covered (presumably some split between DCF and school disricts but unresolved). A time of great uncertainty (and anxiety) around this change.

Next meeting: Tuesday, October 25, 1-2:30 pm, CHD, 51 Capital Drive, West Springfield

Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes – 9/23/16

Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes
September 23, 2016

In attendance: Beth Barbra, Veterans Inc., Steve Connor, VSO Hampshire County, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Chris Lizotte, VSO West Springfield, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Sue Moorman, VA HUD-VASH, Katherine Person, Veterans Inc., Sarah Polidore, Soldier On, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Sabrina Willard, Soldier On

Statewide Veterans Commission Update (Steve Connor):

Steve shared the new PROPOSED PROTOCOL FOR SECURING RE-ENTRY SUPPORT AND SERVICES FOR NON VA ELIGIBLE VETERANS LEAVING THE CORRECTIONAL SYSTEM (click  here), a product of collaboration among DHCD, DOC, DVS, DPH, and DMH, among others. The protocol will be distributed through the CoC’s.   Steve Connor and Steve Como of Soldier On have been directly involved in the development of the protocol and Western MA has served as a model for what is being proposed statewide, e.g., monthly roundtables at Hampshire County Corrections that include the Veterans Service Officer and SSVF brainstorming housing options for incarcerated veterans.   There are 17 Houses of Correction and the goal is to have a similar panel in place at each one.

We agreed on the following outreach plan for our region (and Gerry added it to the workplan):

  • Hampden County (Ludlow): Steve Connor
  • Franklin County: Sabrina Willard will reach out to VSO Tim Niejadlik
  • Bekshire County: Sarah Polidore will reach out to VSO Jim Clark 

Steve also provided an update about the Veteran Community Engagement Board, a national initiative under the auspices of the VA to bring together VA and community partners to advise the VA in respective areas. For our region, the Board is located in Boston, includes the directors of all VA hospitals in MA, the VA director of benefits and cemetery director. It is responsible for 2 forums each year and the first is on October 22 in Fall River. The general discussion topic will be presentation of the housing plan for homeless veterans, how the statewide system is working and a brainstorm on how we ensure veterans stay housed. There will be another forum in the Spring and the topic will be determined after this October forum occurs and the next focus (e.g., employment) becomes more clear.

Three County CoC Update (Steve Connor):

The 3 County CoC is hosting a training for community leaders and providers – police, shelter and food pantry providers, e.g., – on how to collaborate to end veteran homelessness. It is taking place on October 20, 3-4:30 pm, at the Northampton Senior Center and at Berkshire County Regional Housing Authority (with a satellite location TBD in Franklin County).

Steve will send the notice to Pamela who will post it on the Network blog and send out to all Network committees.

The 3 County CoC is also continuing to make progress on its by-name list.

West Springfield Update:

Chris Lizotte, West Springfield VSO, provided an update regarding the possible rehabilitation of a nursing home in West Springfield to provide a “Graduated Housing Program” that would be available to people who are homeless or at risk. The facility would offer two primary tracks for assistance: one for those who need permanent supportive housing and the other for those who need short-term assistance to help get back on their feet. The latter would be “fast-tracked” for condo homeownership. The Mayor of West Springfield is interested in pursuing this idea – consistent with urban revitalization and transforming blighted properties – and a Steering Committee is being created to further discussion. Grants and access to subsidies will be key to any success. Gerry suggested he get in touch to discuss more with the Hampden County CoC and Pamela offered the Network’s support in whatever way would be useful.

Hampden County CoC Update (Gerry McCafferty):

Gerry provided an update regarding the progress on their by-name list (approximately 20 people), zeroing in on those who are VA eligible – connecting them to VASH – and those who are not – searching out other available resources (SSVF if possible).   The outreach partnership with BHN and police is excellent and the flow of identifying veterans, determining eligibility, and making appropriate referrals is increasingly refined. One of the biggest challenges is veterans who may be in shelter for 3 or 4 days and then “disappear.” By having a good tracking record at each interaction, there is greater possibility of swift intervention when the veteran reappears. Steady progress is underway.

Work Plan Review (draft for Hampden County) (click here)
Proposed changes:

  • Add as first strategy: locating homeless veterans (e.g., via correctional facilitates and streets)
  • Include Chapter 115 benefits in Strategy 2
  • Outreach to VSO reps who are not currently engaged (Pamela will reach out to Ludlow, Franklin and Berkshire VSOs and invite them to join email list/committee) Eric Segundo,; Tim Niejadlik; Kimberly babin – and see above for local provider outreach

We agreed all would review the plan in more detail and provide any additional comments via email and plan for in-depth review at our October meeting.

Amherst Homelessness Networking Group: Jay Levy provided an update regarding the town of Amherst’s (through Health Director Julie Federman) effort to bring together a local coalition of providers and leaders (shelter, police, fire, veterans, etc.) to improve the response system to homelessness in Amherst. The first meeting was held this week (Steve, Jay and Pamela attended) and it was very successful. Everyone expressed their commitment to continue meeting monthly, and the next meeting is already scheduled in October. They also committed to joining the 3 County CoC pilot of the AZ Matrix tool as an assessment tool. Jay reviewed the tool with the committee. All agreed it will be interesting to see the findings from the tool’s implementation.

Next meeting: October 28, 9:15 am, Mental Health Association