Category Archives: Meeting Minutes

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee Meeting Minutes – 3/14/18

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee Meeting Minutes – 3/14/18

In attendance: Emily English, Gandara Center, Rosemary Fiedler, HCC, Lisa Goldsmith, DIAL/SELF, Rebecca Guimond, STCC, Jayson LaBombard-Morse, HCC student, Ann Lentini, Domus, Inc., Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Rebecca Muller, Gandara, Juan Rivera, DCF, Jean Rogers, DYS, Pamela Schwartz, Network

Hampden County Point in Time Count Findings for Youth:

Gerry reported on the findings for youth – ages 18-24 – from the annual HUD Point in Time count conducted on Jan 31:

  • Total homeless youth 118, 90% were parenting youth in the family shelter system, 28 were neither parenting or with parents – 26 in shelter, 2 unsheltered (a couple living in an abandoned building)
  • Of the 118, 81% are female, 70% latina, 17% black, 3% non-hispanic white
  • Of the 26 non parenting youth: 61% female, 71% latina, 11% black, 11% non-hispanic white
  • Since 2015, the youth count numbers have steadily decreased, both among parenting youth and unaccompanied youth.  Parenting youth since 2015 have decreased each year from 243 to 111 to 106 to 90.  Unaccompanied youth have decreased since 2015 from 45 to 44 to 35 to 28.  However, it was noted that outreach during the count this year was less extensive than the previous year so the decline in numbers may only be a reflection of that lessened outreach.

A brief discussion of these numbers: the high percentage of latino/a homeless youth was noted – this is significantly higher than the percentage in the community (as opposed to African American percentage which is more consistent).   Also striking is the gap between the number of women and men (women so much higher).  We will further discuss.

The full PIT count is complete but for the final accounting of those who are living in FEMA sponsored motels as a result of the Puerto Rico natural disaster.  The total number in Hampden County is 1,047 or 393 households.

Youth by-name list and case conferencing: Gerry is convening the first youth-only by-name list meeting next Tuesday.  Youth providers will be meeting at Friends of the Homeless (since FOH is where the greatest number of unaccompanied homeless youth reside).  29 youth have been in and out of FOH over recent months.  They are in the process of being assessed with the youth VI-SPDAT. After the key providers and systems get established, they will invite other agency providers, eg., DMH, DCF, DYS to broaden the web of housing assistance and support.  This is an exciting development!

HUD Youth Grant: Gerry reported that the youth grant is due in one month. The engagement of a Youth Advisory Board is an important component. Rebecca reported that the new DMH funded Access Center Grant – an on-site drop-in center on Taylor Street – is a resource for engaging and meeting with youth.  Jean also reported that she has young people who would like to get involved. Rebecca, Jean and Emily will continue to discuss this Board development.

 Network 2nd Annual Resource fair: Pamela reported on the planning thus far with the planning team.  It is taking place on Thursday, June 14, 9:30 am – 12:30 am at HCC.  We brainstormed the workshops and the desire to have longer than 30 minutes this year for each topic (Pamela will bring that back to the planning group).  The group agreed it would do a youth services workshop.  Pamela will reach out to Lisa, Jean, Emily, Ann and Rebecca to schedule a workshop planning all.

State Youth Count: coming up end of April/early May.  We agreed we needed to bring in the public school liaisons to help plan for outreach.  Pamela will do outreach to get them to our next meeting where we will feature planning for the count.

Network Evaluation Check-In: Pamela updated the group on the Network evaluation findings and the various committee mergers that are happening across Veterans and Individual Committee meetings (merging with CoC meetings).  There was general agreement that this youth meeting continues to serve an important function as is; that if anything our focus should be on additional outreach or targeted outreach depending on our agenda items.  Pamela will start with the school liaisons.

Next meeting date: Monday, April 2, 1 pm – 2:30 pm, HCC Frost Building Room 309

Leadership Council Decided Network Structural Changes and Focus Going Forward

At the last Leadership Council meeting on February 28 (meeting minutes here), the Leadership Council of the Western MA Network to End Homelessness made some big changes! First among them is redefining the role of the Leadership Council itself:  the Leadership Council is no longer the decision-making body of the Network but instead will play an advisory role on an as-needed basis.  It will no longer be meeting quarterly and instead will convene on an as-needed basis.
The Network’s decision-making body is a newly constituted Steering Committee that is currently under construction (see minutes for more details).  Our interim co-chairs are Gerry McCafferty and Peg Keller.
All Leadership Council members will continue to stay informed of the Steering Committee decisions through the blog and intermittent emails.  The group very clearly affirmed the value of all Leadership Council members and the body as a whole as a vehicle to marshal guidance and resources when the opportunity or need arises.
The Leadership Council also adopted recommendations  for the Network’s focus going forward.
Finally, I want to take this moment to extend what I know are our shared heartfelt thanks to our long-time chair Andrew Morehouse.  He provided so very many hours over these last few years shepherding the Network through many conversations and decisions with many of you, and in particular with me. Let us call this the virtual room of lifting our glass in thanks to him!
I also want to extend thanks to Joyce Tavon, our consultant over these last few months, who did a fantastic job of helping the Leadership Council come to these decisions.  Thank you, Joyce!
The Leadership Council’s  support and participation are a huge part of what makes this Network successful and I have no doubt it will continue to inform our success in the time to come.  Thank you!
Pamela Schwartz, Director
Western Massachusetts Network to End Homelessness

Youth Referral Info; Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Minutes – 2/14/18

Next meeting date and important referral information:
Wednesday, March 14
1:30 pm – 3:00 pm
Frost Building, Barrett Room, Room 301A
Holyoke Community College
(Note: Our usual space in Donahue was not available; follow signs for the Frost Building and because it’s spring break parking in the visitor parking right outside of Frost should not be a problem. The Barrett Room is on the first floor as you enter the building.)
Important updates on referral information for youth housing/services:
Domus Inc Westfield youth housing – 10 units in a single site for unaccompanied youth up to age 25.  They must have independent living skills and be engaged in a job or schooling. Contact Connie at 413-568-4494 with referrals.
CHD Safety Zone – New funding for 5 transitional housing scattered site units for unaccompanied homeless youth under the age of 22.  Must have independent living skills and in process of obtaining employment or education. Can have children; can self-refer. Contact Jean Rogers at 413-781-6556 or with referrals.
Gandara Center SHINE program – New funding for additional rapid re-housing support (up to 12 months).  2-3 additional scattered site units will be available. Can self-refer. Call Mark Watkins at SHINE at 413-654-1554
Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting Minutes – 2/14/18
In attendance:  Peter Cofoni, DCF, Emily English, Gandara Center, Rosemary Fiedler, HCC, Lisa Goldsmith, DIAL/SELF, Charlie Knight, former consumer, Ann Lentini, Domus, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield/Hampden CoC, Juan Rivera, DYS, Jean Rogers, CHD, Pamela Schwartz, Network

HUD Demonstration Project: HUD is requesting proposals for the next phase of its Youth Homelessness Demonstration Project.  Only CoCs can apply. Hampden County is applying, Three Count is not. Hampden County applied in the previous funding cycle last year and scored just shy of the funding level.  We are in a good position to apply again and will address some of the identified gaps. If selected, HUD will provide TA to create a youth plan over a 4 month period which will then propose funding specific projects. Selected communities will be funded a minimum of $1 million over a 2 year period (with the potential for continued funding through renewal funds).  11 grants will be awarded across the country; 5 must be from rural areas.  Competition will be fierce.  Due date is April 17.
In support of the proposal (and consistent with planning regardless of funding), Gerry plans to facilitate a needs assessment over the next 2 months which will produce an analysis of available units in relation to youth housing needs, e.g., analysis of disabilities, ability to live independently in general, number of unaccompanied youth and pregnant and parenting youth.
In the last PIT count, tentative findings show there were 26 unaccompanied youth, 2 living unsheltered (in an abandoned building) and 81 young parents with 101 children.
Gerry will also be working with Rebeca Muller on the formation of a Youth Advisory Board.
Rosemary noted that she will be able to provide data on students at HCC facing homelessness.
Housing updates:
Domus Inc Westfield housing – 10 units in a single site for unaccompanied youth up to age 25.  They must have independent living skills and be engaged in a job or schooling. Contact Connie at 413-568-4494 with referrals.
CHD Safety Zone – New funding for 5 transitional housing scattered site units for unaccompanied homeless youth under the age of 22.  Must have independent living skills and in process of obtaining employment or education. Can have children; can self-refer. Contact Jean Rogers at 413-781-6556 or with referrals.
Gandara Center SHINE program – New funding for additional rapid re-housing support (up to 12 months).  2-3 additional scattered site units will be available. Can self-refer. Call Mark Watkins at SHINE at 413-654-1554.
Coordinated entry: Gerry reported that Hampden County’s expanded online data system is now collecting data from agencies beyond CoC funded (e.g., sheriff’s department, hospitals).  Gerry is also reaching out to agencies that serve youth to enter assessment information so young people’s housing needs can also be prioritized in relation to housing vacancies.
Discussion of DCF/DMH silo challenge: there are 2 young people who are homeless and struggling with developmental issues but cannot get DMH eligibility because DCF cannot release information on them (not currently in their custody but have previous records that are relevant to determining their eligibility). Gerry is working with the DCF regional director to try to resolve this.
Gerry is interested in obtaining any other information around system gaps so they can be addressed in this upcoming application.
Ann noted that in general there is a gap in mental health services resulting from agencies merging and cutting back services.  Clients are losing their mental health services with nothing to replace them.  We need to address this.
Next meeting date: Wed., March 14, 1:30-3:00 pm, Rosemary will check on space.

Family Services Minutes – 2/13/18

Family services meeting minutes of 2/13/18
In attendance: Shelly Benoit, BHN, Anthia Elliott, Safe Passage, Holly Florek, CHD, Fran Lemay, ServiceNet/Greenfield Family Inn, Jane Lindfors, DTA/DV unit, Heather Marshall, Elizabeth Freeman Center, Michelle Michaelian, BHN, Kathy Moss, BHN, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Stephen Plummer, Springfield Partners for Community Action, Jenni Pothier, MHA/TPP, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Tonya Sparks, WomanShelter, Janna Teatrault, Community Action, Janette Vigo, Way Finders, Lauren Voyer, Way Finders, Melissa White, Valley Opportunity Council

DHCD Data Report on Family Homelessness

We reviewed the data provided by DHCD (click here).  We recognized the limits of the shelter entry and exit data including all transfers (e.g., internally from shelter to scattered site) for gaining an accurate sense of the in-flow and out-flow.  Donna Nadeau offered instead to provide us her monthly report that she receives from providers that summarizes # of placements into housing.  Our family providers present also said they could easily provide the # of referrals into shelter. DV providers also agreed to provide their monthly shelter numbers as well (these are not available via DHCD but are crucial in terms of the overall view of family homelessness for the region). CHD will also provide its DHCD front door diversion numbers as well.
The group agreed that it would provide this information at the next family services meeting and we would keep evaluating what it means to acquire meaningful data in order to evaluate our progress.
Network “future course” meeting debrief:
The Network hosted a Network-wide meeting on 2/12 to review initial findings based on our consultant’s interviews of roughly 40 people and 25 organizations across the Network.  Click here for summary of findings and recommendations.  The meeting on the 12th provided a chance to further share reflections and recommendations.  Committee members who attended noted that it was a great chance to connect with the wider Network beyond the family services committee (and to register its breadth) and to have a meaningful dialogue towards how best to allocate Network resources.  Pamela reported that this meeting’s input will be utilized at the upcoming Leadership Council meeting on 2/28 where recommendations around future structure and focus will be decided upon.
Homelessness Resource Fair:
We officially launched our planning process for this region-wide Resource Fair which is scheduled to take place on Thursday, June 14, 9 am – 1 pm.  We decided upon the planning task force: Holly Florek, Jane Lindfors, Janna Teatrault, Janette Vigo.  Pamela will be in touch with them to schedule a planning call.  And we will plan to report back an initial outline for the day at our next Family Services Meeting.
Network earmark funding:
Pamela reported that the Network’s earmark of $125K was released and is being allocated equally across both CoC’s to direct financial assistance for youth and rapid re-housing. Stay tuned for an email outlining more detailed allocation of funding and who and how to contact providers to access it.
RAFT: Lauren announced that as of 3/1 there will be $250K in RAFT funding available for individuals (elderly, disabled, unaccompanied youth). Similar funding will be available in Franklin and Berkshire Counties as well. Pamela will send out a reminder notice on this immediately in advance of the 3/1 release date.
Community Action Tax Filing Assistance. Janna reminded everyone that Community Action offers tax filing help (as does Springfield Partners).  Please relay info and urge people to call ASAP to schedule appointments as they are filling up.
Due in 3 weeks.
Next meeting date: Tuesday, 3/13, 1 pm – 2:30 pm.  Kittredge Center, Room 301, Holyoke Community College