Category Archives: Meeting Minutes

Western Mass. Secures Funds to Secure Jobs for Homeless Families

Governor Patrick announced yesterday $1 million in funding for the Secure Jobs Connect Initiative statewide, which includes $250,000 for Western Massachusetts.  This funding will allow our Secure Jobs Connect project to continue to serve homeless families seeking employment and housing stability.  Working with HAPHousing as the lead agency and Corporation for Public Management, CareerPoint, Future Works and Square One as grant partners, the success of this initiative relies on a vast network of partnerships across the region, including dozens of businesses, regional employment boards, community colleges and housing and child care providers.

Congratulations to everyone in our Network for the fantastic work that allows us to do more of it!

Click here or read below for the Governor’s press release.


BOSTON – Wednesday, April 23, 2014 – Governor Deval Patrick today announced $1 million in funding to connect homeless and low-income families with services to help some of the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable citizens overcome barriers to work and succeed in life. These Secure Jobs Initiative grants will help connect them with suitable employers in jobs with long-term career pathways. The Governor made the announcement at the Jewish Vocational Services organization in Boston, which assists individuals from diverse communities to find employment and build careers.

“We must continually invest in our workforce to provide our workers with the skills and resources they need to become great job candidates,” said Governor Patrick. “Helping our most vulnerable citizens transition into stable jobs is vital to supporting our economy and creating a stronger Commonwealth for the next generation.”

Through five regional partnerships, these grants will help homeless and low-income families receive job training and placement skills, as well as access to child care services so that they can successfully attain and thrive in their careers. These partnerships will increase coordination and local innovation to improve the Commonwealth’s ability to serve the needs of low-income and homeless families.

“Often times all it takes is a good paying job to lift struggling families out of homelessness,” said Aaron Gornstein, Undersecretary for the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). “The grants funded today are one part of the Administration’s comprehensive strategy to prevent homelessness and reduce our reliance on the state’s emergency shelter system.”

The Secure Jobs Initiative represents a strong collaboration between DHCD, the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC), the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA), regional housing networks, nonprofit organizations and philanthropic organizations, many of whom participate on the Secure Jobs Advisory Board.

“Helping to provide clients with the skills and training necessary to get a good paying job has been a priority for Governor Patrick and is an important part of the Department’s mission to help clients transition toward economic stability and improve them and their families lives,” said DTA Commissioner Stacey Monahan. “These grants will go a long way toward reaching that goal and DTA looks forward to continuing to work with its sister agencies to help our state’s most vulnerable residents.”

“Access to high-quality early education and care is a critical resource for many families who are working hard to achieve self-sufficiency,” said EEC Commissioner Tom Weber. “High-quality early education programs meet the important developmental needs of children while allowing adults to obtain and maintain family-sustaining employment. Working in partnership to provide comprehensive services to these families will help deliver positive outcomes for them and the Commonwealth.”

The Secure Jobs Initiative grants are funded through the Housing Preservation and Stabilization Trust Fund established by Governor Patrick in 2013. Today’s announcement builds upon a 2013 pilot program funded by the Paul and Phyllis Fireman Charitable Foundation, during which 348 individuals were placed in jobs. Two additional agencies that were not part of the pilot program but used the program model in their organization were also able to secure an additional 156 jobs for individuals.

Following the success of the pilot program, the Paul and Phyllis Fireman Charitable Foundation announced that it is matching the Commonwealth’s investment this year by contributing an additional $1 million.

“The Paul and Phyllis Fireman Charitable Foundation is excited to see Secure Jobs continue,” said Sue Beaton, Interim Director of the Fireman Foundation. “In the first year our state partners working alongside the foundation and our regional partnerships have together provided job opportunities for upwards of 600 individuals. As we seek to stabilize families in housing, it is key to launch them to income generating opportunities. Securing a job is often times the best life line possible.”

“I applaud the Patrick Administration for committing $1 million in funding towards the Secure Jobs Initiative, providing critical job training and readiness assistance to help homeless and low-income families find a path to escape poverty,” said Senator Jamie Eldridge. “If we’re serious about reducing the homeless population in Massachusetts, we need to recognize that support services are critical, and I’m grateful to Governor Patrick for his leadership on this investment.”

Today’s awards follow Governor Patrick’s recent announcement of more than $25 million in funding to create over 335 new units of supportive housing for veterans, homeless and very low-income households across the Commonwealth. With these new units, the Patrick Administration has reached its goal of creating 1,000 units of permanent, supportive housing in the Commonwealth over a year early.

Earlier this month, Governor Patrick filed a An Act to Promote Growth and Opportunity, a comprehensive economic development package that will increase opportunity across the Commonwealth by providing new tools and training so our workforce is prepared to meet the needs of employers, invests in our Gateway Cities to promote development across the entire state and provides incentives to create jobs and stimulate the economy.

Today’s award recipients are:

  • Community Teamwork, Inc., Merrimack Valley – $250,000
  • Father Bills & MainSpring, South Shore – $115,649
  • HAP Housing, Western Massachusetts – $250,000
  • Jewish Vocational Services, Metro Boston – $250,000
  • SER-Jobs for Progress, South Coast & Islands – $134,351

Coordinated Assessment and the VI-SPDAT

In 2011, HUD mandated that CoCs establish and operate a coordinated assessment system. As HUD’s Ann Oliva describes in a July 2013 email to CoCs:

Coordinated assessment is a powerful tool designed to ensure that homeless persons are matched with the right intervention, among all of the interventions available in the CoC, as quickly as possible. It standardizes the access and assessment process for all clients and coordinates referrals across all providers in the CoC. When providers intake and assess clients using the same process, and when referrals are conducted with an understanding of all programs, including their offered services and bed availability, participants can be served with the most appropriate intervention and not with a “first come, first served” approach.

CoCs around the nation have struggled with this requirement, and the western Massachusetts CoCs have not yet initiated coordinated assessment.  There are many barriers to compliance–the existence of multiple funding sources (each of which may prefer its own tool), a need to identify an effective assessment tool that does what Ann Oliva describes, and a desire for agreement on a tool among impacted agencies.  In Massachusetts, there is also such a strong separation between the individual and family service systems, and the lack of local control over the family system, that it seems impossible for a CoC to mandate coordinated assessment for families.

Locally, we have recognized that the place where we can work on coordinated assessment is in the individual services system. Over the last several months, our Network’s Individual Services Committee has been examining a particular tool that has been adopted as part of the 100,000 Homes Campaign and is used by more than 200 communities across three countries.  Recently, the state of Michigan has begun using the tool across state agencies and in all CoCs.  The 100,000 Homes Campaign provides a description of the development and testing of the tool.

The Vulnerability Index-Service Prioritization Decision Tool (VI-SPDAT) is an evidence-based, street-use-informed tool that is designed to help providers determine the most appropriate housing intervention for a particular individual or family.  There are two tools–the Individual VI-SPDAT and the Family VI-SPDAT.  (A note for those who dig further: these tools are also referred to as prescreen tools.  It’s a bit confusing because there is also a related case management tool called the SPDAT, which is not the same thing.)

At the March Individual Services Committee, Hampden County providers expressed willingness to try the tool, and since that time, Dave Christopolis (Three County CoC Administrator) and I have talked to one of the creators of the tools,  Org Code Consulting‘s Iain DeJong.  We have learned that the tools are available at no cost, and there is basic training in using the tools on the Org Code website (scroll to the bottom for training videos).

The City of Springfield has now decided to begin trying out the tool.  The City recently released a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) program, which includes the requirement that providers who use ESG funds to provide rapid rehousing for individuals will be required to use the VI-SPDAT as the assessment  tool for this program.  The Hampden County CoC will consider at its next meeting (in June) whether CoC-funded PSH providers must also use the tool.  My hope is that we will increase use of the tool from there.

While there is basic online training in use of the tools available, the City is working toward providing in-person training that would be available to all western Massachusetts providers who are interested.  Stay tuned!


Secure Jobs Initiative in House Ways and Means Budget!

To our great surprise and delight, we learned last Thursday that the Secure Jobs initiative was written into the House Ways and Means budget!  It is $500,000 funding statewide, which is a critical start to targeted state support of this initiative.  SJ partners statewide scrambled upon learning of this provision to make some corrections in an amendment, which was sponsored by Rep. Wagner and co-sponsored by our own Secure Jobs Advisory Committee members Rep. Kocot and Rep. Vega, as well as other Western Mass. legislators (Rep. Andrews, Rep. Farley-Bouvier, Rep. Mark, Rep. Scibak).  The Amendment language is below, FYI.
This provision with the amendment means that homeless families would receive job training, job search and housing stabilization services for 12 months as well as utilization of MRVP subsidies (details of how the subsidies would apply are unclear right now).  This is a big step forward for institutionalizing the Secure Jobs program as a state-sponsored initiative.
Congratulations to all for the excellent work over this last year that made this progress possible.    Special thanks to the Fireman Foundation for their initial innovation and investment that made this project happen.  A huge thanks to our legislators for their incredible support, and especially to House Ways and Means Vice Chair Stephen Kulik for his leadership on this proposal.  We are extremely fortunate to have such fantastic representation across our region!
Stay tuned for advocacy updates.
The Amendment:

Amendment #979 to H.4000

Secure Jobs Initiative

Representatives Wagner of Chicopee, Andrews of Orange, Ayers of Quincy, Beaton of Shrewsbury, Dykema of Holliston, Farley-Bouvier of Pittsfield, Heroux of Attleboro, Honan of Boston, Kafka of Stoughton, Khan of Newton, Kocot of Northampton, Mark of Peru, Roy of Franklin, Scibak of South Hadley and Smola of Warren move to amend the bill in section 2 by striking out item 7004-9322 and inserting in place thereof the following: “7004-9322: For the Secure Jobs pilot program for job training, job search services and 12 months of housing stabilization services, if not otherwise available, to families receiving assistance under 7004-0101, 7004-0103, 7004-0108, 7004-9024 or 7004-9316; provided, that the program shall be administered by agencies that have demonstrated experience working in partnership with regional administering agencies, including, but not limited to: Community Teamwork, Inc., Father Bill’s & MainSpring, HAP, Inc., Jewish Vocational Services and SER-Jobs for Progress; provided further, that the department of housing and community development shall utilize rental assistance provided under 7004-9024 to ensure effective participation under this program……….$500,000.”

Secure Jobs Connect Advisory Committee Minutes – 4/8; next meeting 5/6

Secure Jobs Connect Advisory Committee
April 8, 2014

In attendance:  Toni Bator, HAPHousing, Ken Demers, New England Farm Workers Council, Donna Harris, Franklin/Hampshire Career Center, Joanne Glier, DTA, Lisa Lapierre, Corporation for Public Management, Bill Monterosso, Berkshire Works, Darlene Morse, CareerPoint, Alexandra Revis, Brandeis, Konrad Rogowski, Future Works, George Ryan, Hampden County Regional Employment Board, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Robin Sherman, Franklin County Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority, Ken White, Holyoke Community College, Phyllis White, FH Career Center

Reviewed March/end of grant period progress report:

Note:  due to timing of meeting, and data preparation, Lisa offered an informal write-up with summary data.  I will send along the formal March progress report as soon as data is updated.

Summary report:

SJC enrolled 95 individuals (goal: 96)

SJC employed 60 individuals (goal 75)

SJC has retained jobs for 51 (with 4 more in active job search, which would bring it up to 55) (goal 61).

Retention rate is at 85%  (goal: 80%).  Fantastic outcome.  Note that retention numbers were almost fully achieved without needing the original number of job placements.

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