Category Archives: Meeting Minutes

Secure Jobs Advisory Committee Minutes – 3/17/15

Secure Jobs Advisory Committee Meeting Minutes
March 17, 2015

In attendance: Toni Bator, HAPHousing, Ken Demers, BerkshireWorks, Donna Harris, Franklin Hampshire Career Center, Dave Gadaire , CareerPoint, Joanne LaCour, DTA, Lisa Lapierre, CPM, Darlene Morse, CareerPoint, Bill Mulholland, Berkshire Community College, Konrad Rogowski, FutureWorks, George Ryan, Hampden County Regional Employment Board, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Robin Sherman, Franklin County Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority

Commonwealth Corporation update: Lisa shared a quarterly report provided by Commonwealth Corporation (click here) demonstrating where each funded program was at in relation to its goals. We are doing great!

CommonWorks Pre-Apprenticeship Program update: Lisa shared that Secure Jobs is working with ComomonWorks Training program designed to increase the number of women and minorities in building trades apprenticeships. This program will prepare 20 people in Springfield and 20 in Holyoke to successfully enter trade unions in response to the MGM and I-91 construction projects. Programs will start in next month and repeat with fall cohorts.

GCC collaboration: Mike Truckey of Franklin Hampshire Career Center and Lisa met with Greenfield Community College in response to their outreach to offer greater resource to families living in Greenfield hotels. They are discussing the possibility of a jobs fair at the college. Lisa will distribute more information as soon as available.

Overall Secure Jobs budget review: We discussed funding situation across all programs. There will be more in-depth discussion of Hampden County’s DHCD funded program and the need for some reallocation of line-items (e.g., retention awards) with all funded partners on Thursday, 3/19, at HAP.

We discussed the timing on second year Fireman Funding. Due to the program’s late start of October (first enrollments happened in January), Lisa checked in with Sue Beaton and received confirmation that we could determine a new “end” date for this funding year. We agreed that since first enrollments occurred in January, we would make January, 2016 the end date for meeting all program goals. Lisa will check back in with Sue.

Toni noted that DHCD has stated the priority that all funds from the FY15 budget ($60K to the Western region) must be completely spent by 6/30 (end of the fiscal year). We discussed the fact that we have significant child care funds remaining (which will be reallocated) due to the positive fact that 90% of clients have DTA vouchers making expenses on child care less necessary.

Survey Review: Toni conducted an informal survey of housing stabilization providers regarding their experience of Secure Jobs.  11 responses were collected.  We agreed that we would revisit the notion of a survey, establishing what we’re trying to accomplish with it and from there who should be surveyed and what questions we should ask. Ken, Robin, Lisa, Toni and Pamela agreed to follow-up to discuss further.

February Progress Report (click here). We noted that for the DHCD funded program, retention is an issue. The group noted the under-utilization of the Gift Cards for 30 days employed. Ken spoke about further strengthening the relationships with the businesses that employ our participants in order to get retention info and to ensure clients sigh releases so that staff can discuss the participant with the business.   It also may be useful to focus discussion at intake about long-term retention goals and to request paystubs at the start. The Hampden County group will discuss this issue in more depth at the meeting on Thursday.

It was also noted that Comm Corp’s first year of funding ended on 2/28 and CPM is now in the process of drawing up new sub-contracts for Franklin Hampshire Career Center and Construct. These contracts will be performance based. ServiceNet in the Berkshires is not renewing its sub-contract. We discussed the challenges around meeting CommCorp goals, including their documentation requirements (must have pay stubs which can be difficult to obtain). In general, it was noted that the great success of the Fireman funded programs is in large part a reflection of their flexibility to adapt services to meet individual client needs. Re: enrollments for Berkshire, Hampshire and Franklin Counties: Donna (of FHCC) noted that referrals have increased from the Franklin Housing Authority and one client was placed in employment as recently as yesterday.

Legislative Advocacy Update: Pamela reported that the Governor’s budget included $500,000 for Secure Jobs (the same amount as in the FY15 budget). However, we are advocating for $2 million in order to effectively level fund the program statewide ($1.5 came from the Housing Stabilization Trust Fund and Fireman supplemented as well). Advocacy is ongoing around this goal and Pamela is scheduling meetings with area legislators that will include discussion of this program as a Network priority.

CWC Sturbridge Conference on May 7: all 4 career centers are presenting on Secure Jobs. Kudos to everyone!

Next meeting: Tuesday, April 14, 3:30-4:30 pm, presumably HCC but location to be confirmed.

Mission West Final Report Issued (SAMHSA project for chronically homeless individuals)

Three years ago, the Western/Central region received a 3 year, 1.5. million grant (administered by UMass Medical School) to provide clinical support services to 120 chronically homeless individuals suffering from mental health and substance issue issues.  UMass issued its final data presentation at our closing meeting yesterday, which you can find here.  We are proud to report that 92% of program participants were housed over the course of the project, with an 88% retention rate.  Thanks to the program partners Behavioral Health Network, Soldier On, and Community Health Link (Worcester) and the housing partners Mental Health Association, Springfield Housing Authority, Friends of the Homeless and SMOC and the agency partners Eliot CHS-Homeless Services and the MA Department of Mental Health among others for making this success possible.

This initiative also made possible the Housing Options Tool, created by Andrea Miller, which provides the virtual capacity to learn about housing opportunities for chronically homeless individuals and make the best match possible for success.  We look forward to continuing to develop and adapt this tool for maximum use across the region.

Congratulations to everyone involved for a great partnership with great outcomes.

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting Minutes – 3/11/15

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee
March 11, 2015

In attendance: Lisa Goldsmith, Dial/SELF; Rani Gould, YWCA, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Jean Rogers, CHD, Pamela Schwartz, Network

Governor’s Budget Update: We reviewed Mass. Budget and Policy Center’s and Mass Law Reform Institute’s budget analyses and neither contained reference to unaccompanied homeless youth funding. Mass. Coalition for the Homeless had not yet released their analysis by the time of our meeting. We will keep everyone updated as soon as we learn more about whether the unaccompanied homeless youth initiative received any funding.

Youth Count and Survey Update: We are still waiting on DHCD to return the entered data from the surveys that were submitted. Hampden County collected 327 surveys (fantastic job, Lizzy and all!). Unclear on the Three County count (Pamela will follow-up with Dave). Pamela will email Rose at DHCD to find out who is in charge of the youth survey data compilation. Since Liz Rogers left DHCD, it is unclear.

Lizzy discussed how her interaction with Putnam High School in Springfield via the youth count has led to regular interactions with homeless youth there; the guidance counselor reaches out to Lizzy and Lizzy in turn provides information and connections to services and benefits to the youth. It’s a wonderful relationship with the school and also only underscores the gap in services that exist to the extent that Lizzy’s outreach is the only reason such services are available.

VI-SPDAT discussion: Lisa noted that it is difficult to use this tool with youth and at minimum it must be used in comparison with other youth. We all expressed interest in understanding more about the tool and if/how it has been applied to the youth population. There were also questions about the VI-SPDAT release form – how to share information between providers. Pamela will inquire about these questions and report back.

We also discussed the data challenges between the federal and state systems – how the HMIS must be connected to the RHYMIS system (Runaway Homeless Youth Management Information System) – and how this challenge has been going and is still unmet.

Pamela said she would touch base with Matt and Andrea (working on our regional Opening Doors Plan) to gain any insight about how to meet this barrier of data sharing.

Lisa reported that she spoke with Liz Rogers who is now at Father Bill’s in the South Shore. Father Bill’s is seeing a noticeable increase in the youth population. They are not a youth oriented facility although they apply “youth protocol” (e.g., more flexibility about hours, allowance of cell phones and keeping their same beds), but they are acutely aware of the need for more housing options for this population.

We discussed the data challenges between the federal and state systems – how the HMIS must be connected to the RHYMIS system (Runaway Homeless Youth Management Information System) – and how this challenge has been going and is still unmet.

Next meeting: Wednesday, 4/8 10 am 417 Liberty Street – special guest Danielle Ferrier from Youth Harbors who will discuss her work in the schools with homeless youth.

Family Services Committee Meeting Minutes – 3/10/15

Family Services Committee Meeting Minutes
March 10, 2015

In attendance: Jane Banks, Center for Human Development, Ashley Brehm, HAPHousing, Bonnie Caldwell, DHCD, Cris Carl, ServiceNet (Franklin), Loletta Collins, Springfield Housing Authority, Jenni Delmonte, Tenancy Preservation Project, Jennifer Dieringer, Community Legal Aid, Harry Duchesne, New England Farm Workers Council, Lindsay Errichetto, Family Life Support Center, Erin Forbush, ServiceNet (Berkshires), Hwei-Ling Greeney, Amherst Community Connections, Julia Guazzo, CFCE/HCS Head Start, Sandra Haigh, Tenancy Preservation Project, Donna Harris, Franklin Hampshire Career Center, Sean Hemingway, Center for Human Development, Steve Huntley, Valley Opportunity Council, Jill Fijal, Chicopee Public Schools, Faith Lafayette, FOR Families, Jane Lindfors, DTA DV Unit, Heather Marshall, Elizabeth Freeman Center, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Steve Plummer, Springfield Partners, Anna Quan, Amherst Community Connections, Hiilda Santa, Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity, Lourdes Sariol, DHCD, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Helen Shea, Square One, Janna Tetreault, Community Action, Janette Vigo, HAPHousing, Phyllis White, Franklin Hampshire Career Center

Discussion of Governor Baker’s FY16 Budget Proposal:

Pamela distributed hand-outs of budget summaries provided by Mass. Budget and Policy Center and Mass. Law Reform Institute (see http://www.massbudget.org/report_window.php?loc=Analyzing_the_Governors_Budget_for_FY_2016.html and http://www.masslegalservices.org/content/governors-fy-2016-budget-proposal-mlris-preliminary-analysis-selected-issues. We reviewed the provisions pertaining to family homelessness, specifically the additional EA eligibility restrictions and the allocation of $20 million to Executive Office of Health and Human Service (EOHHS) for support services for homeless families.

We agreed it is too early and too much is unknown to weigh in on the $20 million allocation. There are many unanswered questions, chiefly: how would the proposed support services differ from those that that are being provided by current housing stabilization workers (via HomeBASE) and FOR Families. People expressed concern about the inefficiency/duplication of funding programs separate from those already underway, as well as the prospect of delay and gaps in services due to the need for procurement and start-up.

The group as a whole expressed immediate and grave concern in response to the Governor’s proposal to eliminate EA eligibility for families who are couch-surfing or doubled-up and families who are living in others’ homes that do not meet the State Sanitary Code. DHCD has estimated that roughly 40% of its current EA families are families who qualify for EA under these criteria.

The group discussed their presumption that the Governor decided he needed to restrict the “front door” (eliminating eligibility for many families) in order to have the funds to pay for the additional $20 million of support services. However, group members expressed that even this “trade” was off-base because it did not deal with the lack of affordable housing, the lack of subsidies and the lack of permanent supportive housing which many of these families need.

The group discussed the current DHCD model that has been in effect since December that provides diversion workers at the front door with DHCD staff. Since September, CHD staff have worked to significantly reduced the number of families entering the shelter system with their diversion efforts. The latest data shows a 70% diversion rate at the Liberty Street office. Statewide, the diversion rate is at 20% (Boston is especially difficult to divert due to housing costs). Right now, the motel population is at 1,397, down from 2,600.

The group consensus was that the current diversion effort is proving successful and should be expanded; that this demonstrates that it is possible to lower shelter entries without denying eligibility to families who are in fact homeless.

Specifically regarding the rural population in the Berkshires, Lindsay shared that with these new restrictions, no family would ever access EA (since rural homelessness is almost always defined as doubling up).

The group elected to take a position to strongly oppose these proposed restrictions on EA eligibility. The group agreed to focus its advocacy on continued support of diversion efforts at the front door; continued investment in affordable housing and subsidies and permanent supportive housing. The group also stressed the need to combine this advocacy with a focus on investment in child care because families cannot move out of poverty and into employment without safe and affordable child care.

Other updates:

Donna Nadeau of DHCD noted that EA shelter contracts expire on 3/21 (under a 21 day contract). She is awaiting updates on next steps for renewal/extension.

The Father Nurturing Conference is happening next week in Newport. A very exciting opportunity for all who can attend.

Habitat for Humanity provided applications for housing opportunities for low-income families. Consider this resource for some of the EA eligible families (with some income). Not a quick fix but offers an extraordinary opportunity.

Springfield Partners announced it has funding available to defray fuel costs for those who are not eligible for fuel assistance (above their income guidelines). Contact Steve Plummer for more information

Next meeting:

4/14, 1-2:30 pm, NEFWC, 225 High Street