Category Archives: Meeting Minutes

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Career Services Fair – Fri, Feb. 15, 10 am, Holyoke

The Career Services Committee of the Western MA Network to End Homelessness is pleased to invite you to:

Career Services Resource Fair for Housing & Homelessness Providers

Friday, February 15
10 am – 12 noon
MassHire Holyoke
850 High Street, 3rd floor, Paper City Room, Holyoke

Come learn about employment-related resources available to individuals and families at risk of or experiencing homelessness or newly housed.  See flyer below for more details.
Please RVSP to Pamela at pschwartz@westernmasshousingfirst.org.

CareerServicesFairFlyer.jpg

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee Meeting Minutes – 1/9/18

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee Meeting Minutes
January 9, 2018


In attendance:  Peter Cofoni, DCF, Rosemary Fiedler, HCC, Lisa Goldsmith, Dial/SELF, Sharon Hall-Smith, Gandara Center, Ann Lentini, Domus, Mena Regan, CHD/DYS, Denise Rivera, FOH/CSO, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Elorie Stevens, DCF


Discussion with Elorie Stevens, DCF Intensive Placement Coordinator, Western RegionSpecial thanks to Elorie for joining us this morning. 
Elorie explained her role at DCF: as Intensive Placement Coordinator, she works with area offices to identify placements for young people who need a higher level of care; she coordinates the work around Dually Involved Youth (DIY) – both DCF and DYS involved (meet with DYS weekly); meets with DMH and DDS on a monthly basis. 
There are 5 offices in the Western region: 2 in Springfield, 1 in Holyoke, Greenfield and Pittsfield. She shares this job with a counterpart, Jen Coupe. Elorie covers one Springfield office, Holyoke and Greenfield; Jen covers the other Springfield office and Pittsfield. 

We provided an overview of our homelessness system for young adults, Coordinated Entry and our goal of ensuring coordination and communication between our systems so that youth in DCF/DYS at risk of homelessness are linked to homelessness prevention programs as early as possible. We all acknowledged the challenge of young people who are transitioning out of the DCF (or any system) not wanting to be involved – and that resistance making homelessness a greater risk.
Elorie offered to allocate one of DCF’s regular region-wide trainings to learning about youth homelessness-related programs.  These training dates include DCF, DYS, Juvenile Court and other providers, up to 100 total from across the four counties. We said yes! 
We agreed on a date: 


Thursday, May 23, 10 am – 12 noon, Kittredge Center, Rm 301/303. We agreed we would brainstorm a title (note: following the meeting we confirmed this title: Homelessness prevention and re-housing services for young adults: how to access the system and what it offers).  Elorie will do further planning with her planning group; our committee will continue to talk about how best to organize the training.
In addition to adding Elorie to our committee email list, Elorie will reach out to Justin Lak, the Adolescent Outreach Supervisor for the Western region, and invite him to attend our meetings. 
Exciting progress on building our collaboration and huge thanks to Peter for connecting us and Elorie for joining us!


Youth grant update:
Hampden County: a coordinator has been hired for the winter shelter; now hiring direct care staff.  Searching for an appropriate location for the shelter. Continuing to fill rapid re-housing slots. Building collaboration with CHD on diversion and prevention work. 
Three County: working on staffing and creating good data tracking systems. Lisa Goldsmith is moving from Dial/SELF to a new position as homeless youth services manager at Community Action as of Jan. 28 – she will continue the role of managing this grant.


Youth count: Jan. 30
Hampden County: Working with Impact Center, HCC, ROCA on a couple of outreach events
Three County: working with regional contact person in each county to send out information, and with Eliot Services on outreach
Next meeting date: Wed., 2/13, 9:15 – 10:30 am, Kittredge Center, Room 303, HCC.

Family Services Meeting Minutes – 1/8/18

Note: Please note the next meeting to discuss the coordinated response to the RFI for the Family Homelessness System will take place on Thursday, Jan. 17, 9 am -11 am, Kittredge Center, Room 303, Holyoke Community College.

Summary Minutes of 1/8/18 Family Services Committee Meeting

In attendance:  Shelly Benoit, BHN, Yoshi Bird, YWCA, Ashley Brehm, Way Finders, Tracy Caisse, BHN, Joel Cox, NEFWC, Hillary Cronin, VA, Dawn DiStefano, Square One, Anthia Elliott, BHN, Gus Erskine, Springfield Partners for Community Action, Fran Lemary, ServiceNet, Jane Lindfors, DTA DV unit, Andrea Marion, VOC, Heather Marshall, Elizabeth Freeman Center, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield/CoC, Michelle Michaelian, BHN, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Theresa Nicholson, CHD, Yajaira Ramos, BHN, Jolanta Rumierz, DCF, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Janna Teatrault, Community Action,  Janette Vigo, Way Finders, Melissa White, VOC, Erica Zayas, VOC


Review of DHCD’s RFI for the Family Homelessness System (To access the RFI, go to: https://www.COMMBUYS.com, go to “contract and bid search” link at bottom page and insert BID SOLICITATION NUMBER: BD-19-1076-OCDDE-OCD01-34305)

The group reviewed each question of the RFI and agreed on the questions that were potentially appropriate for a coordinated response. 
We identified some of the major areas we know we want to flesh out:

  • mental health services – greater integration and coordination (see Project FIT as a model)
  • domestic violence services – greater integration and coordination
  • substance use treatment – greater integration and coordination
  • permanent supportive housing – more of it for families with chronic barriers
  • earlier assessment of families with complex barriers while accounting for the fact that it can take time before the full needs are known (tricky!)
  • creating a shelter system that acknowledges every family has unique needs
  • sufficient stabilization resources to provide the support necessary for long-term stability
  • undocumented immigrant families: a response system that addresses their particular challenges to obtain housing, employment, etc.
  • better coordination between EOHHS programs and DHCD
  • better coordination with DCF
  • more units that accommodate families with physical disabilities
  • “right sizing” each community’s shelter system so families do not need to move out their community of origin
  • make better use of housing authority resources

The group discussed how to continue the planning process.  One suggestion was to “start fresh” in our discussion with an outcome-oriented approach: how should our system function to maximize stable housing for families at risk of or experiencing homelessness; how do we re-house families quickly and stably? We discussed retaining a professional facilitator to lead us in this exercise but then acknowledged the limited time and complexity of each agency also sorting out their responses.  Pamela agreed to continue talking one-on-one with committee members to think through the best format for our next meeting. 

Next meeting date: Thurs., Jan. 17, 9 am – 11 am, Kittredge Center, Room 303, Holyoke Community College

We agreed upon the date of Thurs., Jan. 17, 9-11 am to meet next.  Location is Kittredge, Room 303, HCC.

DHCD’s RFI Released: EA Family Homelessness Shelter System

DHCD has released its EA Family Homelessness Shelter System RFI.  Responses are due Feb. 15.  Please see below on how to access the bid.

The Family Services Committee is meeting Tuesday, Jan. 8, 11 am – 12:30 pm, at Kittredge Center, Room 303, Holyoke Community College,to begin discussions on our regional response.  All are welcome.

Please be advised that the Department of Housing and Community Development has posted a new Bid Solicitation:

BID SOLICITATION NUMBER: BD-19-1076-OCDDE-OCD01-34305
BID SOLICITATION DESCRIPTION: DHCD2019-16 RFI Emergency Assistance Family Homeless Shelter System 
BID SOLICITATION OPENING DATE: 02/15/2019 05:00:00 PM
ENTERED DATE: 01/04/2019 05:00:00 PM

Please refer to Bid Solicitation documents for further instructions.

Purchaser Information:
Rocco Albano
rocco.albano@mass.gov
(617)573-1258

All Bidders must respond within the requirements of this solicitation and its applicable procurement laws, policies and practices. All Bidders are responsible for ensuring that their responses are based on the most current version of the bid record.

Technical questions about system functionality or your account? Contact the COMMBUYS Helpdesk at commbuys@state.ma.us

Thank you for using COMMBUYS!

**************************************************

HOW DO I ACCESS THE BID RECORD ABOVE?

If you DO NOT have a COMMBUYS Login ID and Password:

1. Go to https://www.COMMBUYS.com
2. Select the “Contract & Bid Search” link and on the next page Select “Bids”
3. Enter the Bid # listed above in the Bid# field and select the “Find It” button
4. In the Results section, select the Bid# hyperlink to open and view the bid record

If you DO have a COMMBUYS Login ID and Password:

1. Go to https://www.COMMBUYS.com
2. Enter your login credentials into the Login ID & Password and select Login
3. Select the Settings icon from the top right of the page, and then Advanced Search
4. In the Document Type drop down box select “Bids”, the page will refresh and offer the Advanced Search fields
5. Enter the Bid # listed above in the Bid# field and select the “Find It” button
6. In the Results section, select the Bid# hyperlink to open and view the bid record

************************************************** External bid URL : https://www.commbuys.com/bso/external/bidAck.sdo?parentUrl=activeBids&bidId=BD-19-1076-OCDDE-OCD01-34305

Use this link to log on to COMMBUYS: https://www.commbuys.com/bso/view/login/login.xhtml

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting – 12/14/18

In attendance:  Peter Cofoni, DCF, Emily English, Gandara Center, Rosemary Fiedler, HCC, Lisa Goldsmith, DIAL/SELF, Ann Lentini, Domus, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Mena Regan, CHD, Denise Rivera-Nuiez, FOH/CSO, Jean Rogers, CHD, Rebecca Muller, Grant Works/Gandara

Implementation of EOHHS youth grants:There was a statewide meeting of all grantees recently. Good toconnect and discuss data issues among other aspects of implementation. This initiative is being guided by Linn Torto of the MA Interagency Council on Homelessness. Contracts have been sent to all regions at this point.

Hampden County: The contract is all but final. Now doing sub-recipient contracts with Gandara and CHD.  CHD is hiring a staffperson to do outreach, prevention and diversion.  Gandara will have several staff to do the same plus run the winter shelter and the administrationof the flex funds.   Winter shelter plans are well underway, deciding on hours with youth input (6 pm – 8 am); will open first in an available church space while looking for more permanent space in a home. 

Three County: still waiting on contract from the state but should be any day now. 

Data collection issues: This program is requiring the reporting of some data points that are not already in HMIS. Because the intention is for this program to be extended up to 8 years, it is worthwhile to address the data needs in a more systematic way. Gerry is convening a meeting of Green River, the consultants that developed the data warehouse (along with other tools) that is being utilized by Hampden and Three County CoCs.  Green River’s system also supports coordinated entry by doing automatic matches between individuals (based on their assessments) and housing units that become available. This system offers tremendous potential for streamlining housing efforts! The hope is to expand the data system to capture the youth experiencing homelessness – both to refer into the system and to refer out, tracking theresources provided and the outcomes.  The meeting with Green River and 3 county and Hampden County providers will take place sometime in January. 

Youth aging out of foster care: Our next meeting in January will include Elorie Stevens, a regional supervisor at DCF, where wewill have a discussion about how to build connections between DCF and coordinated entry to prevent homelessness and maintain housing. 

Gerry reported on a research project out of NY focusing on interventions that prevent homelessness among aging out foster care youth. She referred them to folks on our committee so please stay tuned.

Point in time count: We confirmed that two counts will take placethis year: Jan. 30 as part of the yearly HUD count and sometime in May as partof the statewide youth count. Community colleges and providers will support theJan. 30 count with some outreach efforts (acknowledging the challenge with just returning from winter break). 

Family shelter system re-procurement: We discussed the need to address youth parenting in the family re-procurement process that is underway.  It was noted that young parents need to be treated differently in the system based on their developmental needs and that in general the shelter system needs to look at assessment across the board.  It was also noted that the procurement should address the gap for “off  hours” assistance in general (after 5 pm and weekends).  Pamela will coordinate a conference call with Libby, Emily, Gerry, Lisa (and late-breaking thought by Pamela, Jane Banks).

Next meeting date: Jan. 9, 9 am – 10:30 am, HCC, Frost Building 309

Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes – 12/13/18

VIn attendance: Steve Connor, Veterans Services, Craig Deraway,Soldier On, Justin Maynard, VA,  Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield,Pamela Schwartz, Network, Kate Sweetster-Owens, VA, Stephanie Tonelli, FOH/CSO,Allie Wilson-Pierce, VA

Hampden County Update: 19 veterans currently on the by-name list. Housing is identified for half. Will be using Chapin Mansion (through VOC) that has 8 vacancies and has changed its policies to low barrier (no longer sober housing).  It will prioritize housing veterans. 

The non-VA eligible HUD-VASH vouchers have been all but approved (awaiting final final approval after some minor changes to the agreement).  There will be 11 vouchers to be used across the region. This will make a huge impact for hardest to house veterans.

A few veterans have returned to the area and are repeat voucher recipients.  This raised the larger challenge, i.e., how to better serve veterans who need more support than VASH currently gives (due to case load andveterans’ needs).  The veterans involved here have thought disorders thatmake stability especially difficult.  We will further research best practices on this challenge (Gerry will see what Built for Zero folks have tooffer).  We also discussed the value of Critical Time Intervention (CTI) as a model that has proven success. We agreed that to train on this model wouldrequire regional and organizational buy-in (from top down to bottom up) and this is something the CoCs could encourage/require in their grant funding application process. We will discuss further.

Three county Update:

We discussed 3 County’s by-name list.  It does not include veterans living at Soldier On, just unsheltered veterans outside of Soldier On. We discussed the fact that because veterans in transitional housing at Soldier On are considered homeless and must be rehoused that it could be helpful in our regional work to have them on the by-name list; it would also allow for better tracking as veterans move in and out of Soldier On, and up and down 91, and providers would have a better chance of understanding history and needs when they enter the system again.  

We also noted that Soldier On’s permanent housing is allocatedbased on traditional fair housing criteria (first come first serve), and is notintegrated into coordinated entry where vulnerability and chronic homelessnessare the deciding factors.  This creates a disconnect between VA requirements for allocating HUD-VASH (prioritization based on acuity of need).  This issue has been discussed previously and we agreed it would beuseful to get an update on where conversations are at with the VA and HUD.  Pamela will reach out to Jim Seney to get an update.

We agreed it would be useful to meet across the CoC’s to brainstormhow to build better collaboration and possibly one by-name list.  We agreed Pamela would reach out to:


3  County CoC – Brad and Lisa, co-chairs, and CommunityAction as the incoming lead
VA – Jim Kate, Allie, Solider On – Craig, Mike
Hampden County CoC – Gerry
ServiceNet – Erin Forbush
Hilltown CDC – Nikki Riello, Dave C

 Our goal is to identify the barriers to unified coordinatedentry – what are local and what are national – and determine together nextsteps.

Next quarterly meeting date: Thurs., March 14, 9:30-11 am, Frost Building, Room 309

Family Services Meeting Minutes – 12/11/18

In attendance: Ashley Brehm, Way Finders, Ellen Broadhurst, West Springfield Schools, Joel Cox, NEFWC, Hillary Cronin, VA, Anthia Elliott, BHN, Waleska Estrada, NEFWC, Rosemary Fiedler, HCC, Lisa Goldsmith, DIAL/SELF, Libby Hayes, Homes for Families, Steve Huntley, VOC, Fran Lemay, ServiceNet, Jane Lindfors, DTA/DV, Andrea Marion, VOC, Heather Marshall, Elizabeth Freeman Center, Rebecca Muller, Gandara, Theresa Nicholson, CHD, Lizzy Ortiz, Mercy Medical, Aisha Pizarro, YWCA, Jenni Pothier, TPP, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Janna Tetrault, Community Action, Janette Vigo, Way Finders, Lauren Voyer, Way Finders, Melissa White, VOC, Erica Zayas, VOC

Discussion of Shelter Re-Procurement with guest Libby Hayes, Executive Director, Homes for Families

Libby summarized the main discussion points thus far based on DHCD’s listening sessions and ongoing discussions with providers statewide (click here for summary of procurement discussions and here for a summary of the Listening Sessions).

Feedback included:

  • When considering extending HomeBASE, look at criteria forextension
  • Better integrate domestic violence services to families 
  • Provide more clinical treatment for mental health and substanceuse issues
  • Address staff professional development needs and recruitmentchallenges
  • Increase systematic and coordinated stabilization to bestconnect to other supports, e.g., WIC and Head Start
  • Integrate workforce development
  • Align DHCD and DTA income and asset guidelines eligibility is consistent

Break-out groups to address stabilization question in more depth(seeRFI Discussion Q here.  Feedback included:

  • Critical Time Intervention needs more than 3-6 months to be effective
  • Intensive case management should be available as needed but a “transition worker” could be seen as intrusive to families (make available only when families are receptive)
  • Extending HomeBASE should not be based on criteria because of complexity of assessment and determinations (and potentially uneven application)
  • Should we be talking about extending HomeBASE or taking the dollars such an extension would require and allocate them to increased MRVP vouchers to actually create more permanent housing
  • Extending HomeBASE would be make landlords more amenable to accepting the resource
  • We need DATA on OUTCOMES on HomeBASE and stabilization to better determine the program’s effectiveness – right now DHCD’s EA and HB data systems are separate and do not talk to each other – efforts are being made to fix that but this is a huge gap in quantitative evaluation (beyond case notes)
  • Accountability is an important element in any program design
  • Stabilization services are coordinated in many instances; we just need to do a better job of capturing that coordination
  • Caseloads are too high and by definition preclude meaningful stabilization – must reduce!
  • Permanent supportive housing is a model that works – it’s happening in Hampden County for families and needs to be expanded – let’s make sure to feature our successes in our responses to DHCD

Next steps:

  • We will establish a flow of communication with Homes for Families and within the Network so that ideally providers statewide are responding to the RFI with coordinated goals and strategies.
  • The Request for Information (RFI) is due out by the end of this week.  We will exchange on it by email and meet again to discuss at our next regularly scheduled meeting on Jan. 8.

Announcement: Per our previous meeting discussion, the committee is hosting a training by Community Legal Aid to learn more about the resources and representation available for families facing legal challenges.  The training will take place on Wed., Jan. 23, 2:30-4:00 pm, Holyoke Public Library Community Room, 250 Chestnut Street, Holyoke

Next regularly scheduled meeting date:
Tuesday, Jan. 8
11:00 am – 12:30 pm
Kittredge Center, Room 303
Holyoke Community College


Individual Services Meeting Minutes – 12/10/18

In attendance: Charlyn Arnell, Eliot CHS – Homeless Services, Steve Connor, Veterans Services, Eleanor Dodson, ServiceNet, Erin Forbush, ServiceNet, Lisa Goldsmith, DIAL/SELF, Peg Keller, City of Northampton, Katie Miernecki, ServiceNet, Patty McDonnell, SMOC, Nikki Riello, Hilltown CDC, Brendan Plante, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Mike Trembley, ServiceNet, Josh Wren, ServiceNet

Coordinated Entry Update: Few housing matches being made due to limited openings (Pittsfield location is the one exception). Awaiting new HUD funding cycle to pick up ServiceNet’s PSH units (people are being re-housed as needed and about 30 of their units will eventually continue to be PSH units at below-market rents without subsidy).

Lumber Yard affordable housing in Northampton: They are taking applications, deadline is Jan. 17 with lottery happening in February. Most apartments are 2 BRs (more family friendly).

SMOC housing update:

Three County CoC Update: Community Action Pioneer Valley was voted to be the new lead agency for the Three County CoC. Very exciting development for the region. Hilltown CDC was thanked for their 6 years of leadership. Lisa Goldsmith and Brad Gordon as CoC co-chairs were also thanked for shepherding this transition process.

Report out on Regional Homelessness event of 11/16: Pamela provided an update on the regional event at GCC on Nov. 16 that included state legislators, mayors, housing authorities, sheriff departments, hospitals, career centers and dozens of Network partners across every sector. Gerry McCafferty produced an excellent report on homelessness in the region which can be found here. There was engaged discussion on concrete strategies to enlist to reduce homelessness, including encouraging housing authorities to apply for about-to-be-released Section 811 Mainstream vouchers that could house chronically homeless individuals and families. Pamela and other Network partners will continue to follow-up on this and other strategies to encourage continued collaboration.

Network training updates: The Network just hosted a successful training on 12/6 for 75 people on EA/HomeBASE programs. DHCD trainers Alvina Brevard and Amy Mullen did an excellent job and powerpoint presentations are available here. Upcoming trainings include “how to think like a system” on Dec. 17; “how to run an awesome shelter” on Dec. 18, and “trauma informed care” and “progressive engagement and diversion,” both half days on Jan. 31. There are a few spots available for the shelter training and you can SIGN UP HERE. Pamela will send out a separate notice reminding folks to register for the 1/31 trainings.

Northampton Housing First meeting: Peg Keller announced that she will be hosting a meeting on Jan. 29, 2:30 pm – 4:30 pm, to focus on how the City creates true “housing first” housing, that is low barrier housing. It will also focus on how to meet the demand for women’s shelter.

Next meeting date: 1/14, 1 pm, 296 Nonotuck St.