Category Archives: Meeting Minutes

State and Federal Officials Join the Network’s Leadership Council

At the Network’s quarterly Leadership Council meeting yesterday, where over 40 leaders gathered from across Western Massachusetts, we had the pleasure of hosting special guests: DHCD Undersecretary Aaron Gornstein, DHCD Associate Director of the Division of Housing Stabilization Rose Evans, MA Interagency Council on Housing and Homelessness Executive Director Liz Rogers and US Interagency Council on Homelessness Regional Representative Bob Pulster.

It was a rich discussion about the intersection of federal and state policies impacting homelessness in Western MA (stay tuned for more detailed minutes) and how we can continue to move forward with our innovative and collaborative responses.

For now, thank you to our state and federal leaders for their tremendous commitment and partnership.  And thanks to our fantastic Network Leadership Council for making the partnership possible.

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Secure Jobs Connect Advisory Committee Minutes – 10/22/14

Secure Jobs Advisory Committee Meeting Minutes
October 21, 2014

In attendance: Toni Bator, HAPHousing, Debbie Bellucci, STCC, Bud Delphin, CareerPoint, Ken Demers, BerkshireWorks, Harry Duchesne, NEFWC, Joanne Glier, DTA, Donna Harris, Franklin Hampshire Career Center, Sean Hemingway, CHD, Lisa Lapierre, CPM Secure Jobs, Ses Lopez, SJC/CareerPoint, Darlene Morse, SJC/CareerPoint, Melissa Mateus, Springfield Partners, Bill Mulholland, Berkshire Community College, Konrad Rogowski, FutureWorks, George Ryan, Hampden County Regional Employment Board, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Robin Sherman, FCRHRA, Rep. Aaron Vega, Holyoke

National Summit Report

Pamela, Phyllis and Lisa reported out on their trip (with Lynne Wallace and Dave Gadaire as part of the team as well) to Washington, DC on 10/16 to participate in the national summit on jobs programs for homeless job seekers. The event, co-sponsored by the Butler Family Fund, Dept. of Labor, HUD, and US Interagency Council on Homelessness, included 11 selected communities from across the country. We continued to feel very proud of our program in the company of others!  The day was hard-working and intended to give very concrete recommendations to federal agencies on how to break through federal policy barriers and better serve this population. Labor Secretary Perez and HUD Secretary Castro both attended to hear those recommendations. A Western Mass.’s recommendation was selected to be heard by the Secretaries: to address the loss of the precipitous loss of the safety net – the immediate reduction in cash assistance and SNAP benefits and increase of parent child care fees – when heads of household are just beginning to work and become stable, thereby threatening their housing stability altogether. Lisa shared the problem and recommendation directly to the Secretaries, as well as offered the 5 minute “speed round” talk about our program to the audience of several hundred. Lisa did a fantastic job and we all congratulated her for her excellent representation of our program.

Next steps: The US ICHH will be in touch to follow-up about continuing collaboration and exchange of ideas.

On the state level, Lisa spoke with Sue Beaton who offered to support our effort to better understand the nature of these policy barriers around the safety net loss, specifically what is federally or state driven and what is regulatory or legislatively determined. There has been some confusion about that from the state and federal agencies and we know we need to invest time and resources into gaining our own understanding.

We agreed we would establish a sub-committee to flesh out the list of issues and barriers to research. Lisa, Pamela, Robin Sherman and Jane Banks (volunteered in absentia) will meet to develop this further.

We also agreed to revisit the notion of inviting the DEEC Commissioner out to speak with our region about the prevailing child care barriers. Pamela and Lisa will follow-up with Sue Beaton to discuss this further.

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Back from the National Jobs Summit!

Our Secure Jobs team is pleased to report a successful trip to the October 16 national summit  in Washington, DC on jobs programs for homeless job seekers.

As one of 11 communities from across the country invited to share their experiences in this work, we listened and learned about other models and brainstormed federal policy changes to make these models even more successful.  We enjoyed the audience of HUD Secretary Julian Castro and Department of Labor Secretary Thomas Perez who heard our recommendations at the end of the day and committed to continuing the collaboration.

Each community produced a display poster capturing its work.  Below is a photo of ours with our team (from left to right, David Gadaire, Executive Director, CareerPoint, Pamela Schwartz, Network Director,  Lisa Lapierre, Secure Jobs Program Director of Corporation for Public Management, Lynne Wallace, Chief Operating Office, HAPHousing and Phyllis White, Director of Programs, Franklin Hampshire Career Center).

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We look forward to continuing this important work together!

Family Services Committee Meeting Minutes – 10/14/14

Family Services Committee Meeting Minutes
October 14, 2014

In attendance: Jane Banks, Center for Human Development, Ashley Brehm, HAPHousing, Melissa Brown, YWCA, Bonnie Caldwell, DHCD, Cris Carl, ServiceNet, Claudia Catalano, DPH, Susan Colwell, DCF, Pat Duffy, Rep. Vega’s office, Harry Duchesne, New England Farm Workers Council, Anthia Elliott, Safe Passage, Rose Evans, DHCD, John Fister, HAPHousing, Julia Guazzo, CFCE, Eryka Haase, Tenancy Preservation Proejct, Flo Haves, EEC, Donna Harris, Franklin Hampshire Career Center, Steve Huntley, Valley Opportunity Council, Faith Lafayette, DPH – FOR Families, Lisa Lapierre, Secure Jobs (CPM), Fran Lemay, ServiceNet, Jane Lindfors, DTA DV Unit, Ses Lopez, CareerPoint/SJC, Ashley Mann, New Lease, Melissa Mateus, Springfield Partners, Heather Marshall, Elizabeth Freeman Center, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Janet Mock, Square One, Darlene Morse, CareerPoint/SJC, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Halie Nicolosi, Harvard Catalyst, Jordana O’Connell, Holyoke Public Schools, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Tom Pilcik, New Lease, Dorothy Pink, Valley Opportunity Council/WIC, Steve Plummer, Springfield Partners, Liza Rios, YWCA,  Hilda Santa, Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Robin Sherman, Franklin County Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority, Sarah Slautterback, DESE, Rachel Trant, DCF, Holyoke State Representative Aaron Vega, Janette Vigo, HAPHousing, Lauren Voyer, HAPHousing, Abigail Williams, Harvard Catalyst, Phyllis White, Franklin Hampshire Career Center, Alicia Zoeller, Holyoke Community Development

Pamela welcomed special guests Representative Aaron Vegan, Rose Evans, DHCD Associate Director of Division of Housing Stabilization and Abigail Williams of Harvard Catalyst.

General update from Rose Evans, DHCD Associate Director of Division of Housing Stabilization:

Rose noted FY2014 highlights: 1,000 new households with MRVP subsidies; expansion of state investment in Secure Jobs statewide by $1.5 million; funding for 3,000 units of Permanent Supportive Housing through Housing Stabilization Trust Fund; increase of Household Assistance from $4K to $6K (continuing initiative into FY 2015). The Commonwealth reached a milestone of producing over 20,000 units since 2007.

Regarding shelter capacity: The Commonwealth expanded capacity in FY14, ending the year with an increase of over 700 beds. This effort continues into FY15 as the demand for shelter increases. Shelter capacity will increase by an additional 800 beds in FY15 with 200-300 in Western Mass.

The shelter system has not been “resized” since 2009. An increase in shelter beds is the most appropriate course in view of the continued demand and the desire to decrease reliance on motels and provide more comprehensive services to families.

The FY15 budget includes an increase in Household Assistance upon exiting shelter from $6K to $8K. This has enhanced families’ capacity to become rehoused.

Rose noted the New Lease program. Tom Pilchik, the director, shared that thus far it has moved 65 families out of shelter into apartments. Very exciting initiative.

Rose also noted that DHCD has started case management services at selected hotels (where there are high numbers of families or in remote locations).   DHCD also hired for a new staff position, Felisha Bennett, to oversee operations and to supervise 3 transitional specialists (Juanita Diaz In the Western Mass office).

Rose also noted the FY15 change in MRVP language so that MRVPs are now blind to EA eligibility. Families living in motels and shelter will not have a priority. DHCD is moving to a statewide wait list for MRVPs. This will take time to implement but the process is underway. Meanwhile, housing authorities have released frozen MRVPs and regional housing authorities have been issued new MRVP’s.

Rose provided a breakdown of the 450 families currently living in motels in Western Mass:
242 from Hampshire, Hampden and Franklin Counties
10 Greenfield
39 Holyoke
133 Springfield
22 Chicopee
Other 50% not from W. Mass. DHCD is working very hard to relocate families back to their communities of origin but they have faced the additional challenge of several “extended stay” hotels in Boston area discontinuing business with the Commonwealth. This has resulted in the loss of 233 shelter beds.

Gerry McCafferty posed the question of whether DHCD is considering use of a screening tool (similar to VI-SPDAT that is being implemented for homeless individuals) to prioritize housing resources?

Rose offered that DHCD can get to certain indicators through HUD assessments; can “drill down” based on certain critiera. She will look into that. Continue reading