Category Archives: Meeting Minutes

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting Minutes of 9/14/16

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee
September 14, 2016

In attendance: Lisa Goldsmith, DIAL/SELF, Natalie Hill, John Lewis, Springfield Police Department, Gandara Center, Kim Majewski, Gandara Center, Gerry McCafferty, Hampden CoC/City of Springfield, Rebecca Muller, Grantworks, Jean Rogers, CHD, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Maria Vogel, Gandara, Rhonda Young, CHD,

We welcomed John Lewis of the Springfield Police Dept who is working with the Shannon Grant, a program of the Executive Office of Public Safety that addresses community’s gang and youth violence. 

Three County CoC Program Update (Lisa Goldsmith reported):

  • 4 youth have subsidies, 3 housed
  • 14 youth are in process for subsidies
  • in hiring process for Franklin and Hampshire Counties for additional outreach/case management staff; will be subcontracting with Berkshire County Regional Housing for the Berkshire component
  • Observations include seeing more youth involved in DCF and DMH, 18 year olds who have been in foster case; seeing more young parents
  • In need of emergency sheltering options, having a hard time finding host homes

Hampden County CoC Program Update(Kim Majewski reported):

  • Introduced us to Natalie Hill, the new host home manager and case manager
  • Have utilized 3 host homes, one young person returned home, one entered SHINE transitional housing program, another returned to homelessness (complicated story, will continue to reach out)
  • 17 of 18 rapid rehousing beds are currently occupied
  • Observations: encountering more young people who are literally homeless (e.g., living behind a grocery store, in car, abandoned home). Causes include conflict with parents, family financial instability, longstanding family challenges, mental health issues
  • Continuing to meet at Friends of the Homeless twice/week and doing outreach with Out NOW (GBLT group) and other access points for young people, building great relationships across the community, seeing the climb in demand as a result of the outreach and the available resource
  • Concern expressed about ensuring continued funding to sustain this groundwork. Very hopeful to create more of a connection with high schools and community colleges, only just beginning.

Discussion of October meeting with EOHHS and their Safe and Successful Youth Initiative and Shannon Grant programs in the region:

We reviewed the invitation from Robyn Kennedy (Deputy Assistant Secretary at EOHHS) to bring together our committee with these other EOHHS programs. All are very enthusiastic about this opportunity.

We agreed we would propose an agenda as follows:

  • Network summary – who and what and why we are (Pamela)
  • CoC overview – who and what they are (Gerry)
  • Youth Program overviews (Lisa and Kim)

Gerry generously agreed to put together a framework for a powerpoint presentation. We agreed on maximum 20 minutes on this part of the meeting (assuming 20 minutes max for their program summaries, leaving 50 minutes for discussion and brainstorm on collaboration possibilities)

On meeting space, Pamela will inquire of HCC first and then possibly Holyoke Library if HCC is not available.

Youth NOFA grant opportunity by HUD:

We reviewed the terms of the proposal (click here for summary compiled by Rebecca Muller). We agreed that the Hampden CoC will apply (and we think it will be highly competitive!).
A big challenge is funding the 6 month planning process (and the question is whether HUD expects the hiring of a full-time coordinator for that process and beyond). The possibility was raised of allocating some Network earmark funds to support this process.
Focus groups were also discussed as a great way to incorporate the perspective of young people (and build a youth advisory committee in the process).
Gerry, Rebecca and Kim will keep meeting on this and will use the Committee as needed. Deadline is 11/30.

Youth Committee Work Plan review (click here)

We only had a very brief time to review this. We agreed on the following:

  • Everyone would review independently on their own time and email comments within the next 2 weeks
  • Kim will flesh out the “notes” sections where relevant to include more detail on outreach efforts
  • Rebecca and Kim will work together to broaden the scope of the workplan to go beyond the EOHHS youth grant and current partners
  • Gerry will adapt plan to reflect regional focus (as opposed to Hampden CoC only)
  • We will allocate substantial time on the November agenda to reviewing our work plan and taking stock of next steps

Next meeting:

Wed., October 12, 9:30 -11:00 am, Location TBD [NOTE: This meeting date will be rescheduled – conflict determined since our last meeting – stay tuned for calendar update]

Wed., November 9, 9:30-11:00 am, Gandara Center, Holyoke

Secure Jobs Meeting Minutes of 9/6/16

Secure Jobs Advisory Committee
September 6, 2016

In attendance: Ashley Brehm, HAPHousing, C. Diluzio, Veterans Inc., Dawn DiStefano, Square One, Madeline Martinez, HAPHousing, Bill Mulholland, Berkshire Community College, Maegan Pedemonit, HAPHousing, George Ryan, Hampden County Regional Employment Board, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Maricelli Serrano, BerkshireWorks, Chris Skerritt, HAPHousing, Pamela Wotjkowski, BerkshireWorks

Review of Progress Report for July/August FY17: Click here
July signaled start of new contract year. DHCD award to Western region (via HAP as lead agency) is for $120,000 (about half as much as previous year due to budget cuts, although a portion of funding was performance-based and HAP received maximum amount due to the program’s outstanding performance). Placement goal for the year is 37 but the program has already placed 22 individuals in employment in the first 2 months alone. Congratulations to all.

Welcome to Chris Skerritt, HAP’s new employment specialist. They have developed a cohort curriculum that is working very well (they have convened 2 cohorts thus far).

Support for Berkshire, Franklin, Hampshire Counties:
HAP is in the process of getting clear on nature of support to Berkshire County (via BerkshireWorks) and Franklin/Hampshire counties (via FH Career Center). Likely on case-by-case basis, when someone fits SJ criteria, limited resources will be available to support specific needs such as training dollars or client allowance. The allocation for discretionary support was substantially cut due to overall budget cuts so very few dollars available overall. May also incorporate limited performance-based contract (i.e., some reimbursement based on placements). This will be clarified over the next month.

Additional fundraising efforts:
Ashley shared that she is focusing this year on expanding financial base of support for the program so not reliant exclusively on yearly state funding. One key exploration is reimbursement by the SNAP program (45% reimbursement for a range of employment and training services once budget is approved). Must be exclusively a SNAP recipient without additional benefits (e.g., no TAFDC recipient would qualify). This will be a test year to ascertain potential leverage with this resource.

BerkshireWorks update:
Most referrals for Secure Jobs come from Berkshire Housing (HomeBASE or RAFT recipients). Clients are incorporated in the ongoing work readiness program (CEIS).

 Berkshire Community College Update:
Bill Mulholland updated the group on the Working Cities Grant – $500,000 over 3 years – that in Berkshire County will focus on the Bridges program, an effort to bring in non-profits and other entities to develop greater access to job opportunities. Huge challenges exist in transportation, language barriers and above all creating an environment of inclusion and awareness of opportunity for all. This is an exciting opportunity.   A specific big challenge in Berkshire County is also the aging population and the number of anticipated retirements in the years ahead. Berkshire Health Systems is especially concerned and would like to focus on the necessary train ing and language learning opportunities to ensure a work force that meets the community needs.

Secure Jobs Advisory Committee focus this year:
The group discussed the mission of our Advisory Committee for the coming year. There was consensus that the Committee’s most useful function is to serve as a vehicle for advocacy around policy changes that would improve outcomes for Secure Jobs (and related employment efforts). We agreed we should further consider moving to quarterly meetings and using these meetings to bring together legislators to hear our successes, challenges and recommendations for reform. Towards this end, we agreed we would use our next October meeting to invite Rep. Kocot and Rep. Vega, our 2 Committee legislators, to brainstorm this concept and help move it forward.

Initial brainstorm on policy concerns included:

  • child care
  • public transportation
  • ESL
  • Housing for hard-to-house families

We agreed we would pose 2 possible dates to the legislators: Wed., Oct. 5 at 11 am (our usual meeting time) or Friday, Oct. 7 in the morning (since Fridays are frequently easier for legislators). Pamela will report back to the group as soon as she hears back.

Individual Services Committee Meeting Minutes – 9/1/16

Individual Services Committee Meeting Minutes – 9/1/16

 In attendance: Nichole Bodiford, Friends of the Homeless, Steve Connor, Veterans Services, Toni Dolan, Veterans Services, John Hornik, Amherst Housing and Sheltering Committee, Todd Koniezhny, Next Step/Lighthouse, Jay Levy, Eliot Services, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield/Hampden CoC, Gleidy Maria, Patty McDonnell, SMOC, Catholic Charities, Dave Modzelewski, Network, Luz Ortiz, Friends of the Homeless, Christina Ruest, Friends of the Homeless, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Mark Watkins, Gandara Center, Paulett Webster, Lighthouse/HRU

Review of Hampden County CoC FY17 Workplan for Chronically Homeless

Click here for workplan.

Gerry McCafferty reviewed and updated the committee on the 6 strategies:

  1. Complete VI-SPDAT on every chronically homeless person in Hampden County:
    good progress being made; hospitals involved, outreach to food pantries, integration into Friends of the Homeless systems; estimates 60-80% of CH individuals are screened. Discovered through outreach efforts with the police department and BHN that there were more homeless individuals than previously aware who were not accessing shelter, although still in process of assessing who is chronically homeless. The by-name list is being built and the tracking of who is being housed and where is underway.
  1. Create and implement outreach plan: this effort is also well underway with the integration of hospitals and police and the continual outreach to other points of access for CH individuals. Most striking thing learned is that HMIS is not the most significant resource for identifying CH individuals but other points of contact instead (e.g., high-end utilizers of health services).
  1. Use REACH meetings to further housing outcomes: This clarified focus of the REACH meetings has happened; now the focus is on outreach to ensure that widest possible net exists for identifying individuals, assessing their needs and finding best housing placements.
  1. Increase the number of units available to CH individuals – Gerry announced that the CoC as part of its NOFA application is submitting an application from Friends of the Homeless for 15 new scattered site units for CH individuals. MHA is determining the number of CSPECH units to be created this year; Springfield Housing Authority is adding more units to his CH project-based voucher program. Gerry is also meeting with other housing authorities to encourage them to use vouchers for the “moving on” program, allowing for a freeing-up of PSH units.
  2. Improve navigation/case management to increase housing placement: this process is underway.
  1. Improve non-PSH housing placements: This process is also underway.

Gerry welcomed committee members additional review and feedback (please email her at: Immediate committee feedback noted the great progress on outreach and the promise of additional PSH units to meet the consequences of it.

3 County CoC Update:

Dave Christopolis was at a conference so unable to attend. Jay Levy offered the update that the 3 County’s coordinated assessment tool is in its pilot phase and is going well with ServiceNet and Eliot Services using the tool (an adaptation of the AZ Matrix tool). Their work plan is in process; the larger challenge in developing the by-name list is the large geography and where to locate the housing match conversations (presumably requiring sub-groups based in each county).

The group discussed the challenge of verifying chronic homelessness, especially if the individuals cross CoC lines. Gerry shared her strategies of recording the dates police or BHN interacted with homeless individual in the community as a basis for verifying homelessness. She also noted that if the individual is in the HMIS system, each CoC could generate a letter verifying dates in shelter and share that information across the CoC.

Veteran housing update:

Steve Connor provided a brief update on housing availability:

The 44 units in Leeds are filled (single men, most units are HUD/VASH)
Most of the Chicopee units are filled; Agawam construction is underway. Bilingual veterans center is having a hard time filling slots.

Amherst update:

John Hornik summarized the latest developments:

  • Production of the Amherst resources directory (previously distributed and available on the blog)
  • Distribution of candidates’ for Amherst House of Rep seat (Rep. Ellen Story’s position) positions on homelessness.  Click here
  • Commitment by Town of Amherst to create a coordinating group around homelessness services

The committee saluted the progress of this initiative and John’s leadership in making it happen.

Statewide CoC Advocacy Update

Gerry McCafferty provided an update on the statewide organizing effort to advocate to HUD for changes in the CoC program. Click here for summary of advocacy effort. Recommendations include the creation of a CoC advisory committee, changing to a multi-year application, rewarding higher performing CoCs with 5 year renewals and target lower performing CoCs with TA; simplify and streamline data reporting.

Gerry welcomed committee feedback prior to bringing the issue to her own CoC board for discussion.   Gerry noted that the advocacy is being driven by HUD’s funding cuts to many of MA’s CoC’s. The City of Springfield has not experienced those cuts and actually receives bonus funds each year as a result of scoring very highly in the competition. She is trying to ascertain the appropriate role of the Hampden County CoC in this effort. Gerry raised the question of whether HUD is pushing for change that gets us all closer to the outcomes we seek and whether annual review is valuable to ensure maximum attention to performance outcomes.   Due to a lack of time, we agreed we would return to the discussion of this effort at our next meeting.

Network mapping process and committee input: Due to lack of time, this agenda item will be taken up at our next meeting.

Next meeting date: Thursday, October 6, 9:30-11 am, Northampton

Springfield-Hampden County CoC FY16 Competition: Scoring and Ranking Results

The Springfield-Hampden County Continuum of Care Scoring and Ranking Committee met this morning and completed its review of all renewal and newly-submitted projects. As a reminder, the Committee follows the scoring and ranking guidelines set out in the CoC Application Selection and Ranking Process 2016 guidance approved by the Board of Directors at its July 15, 2016 meeting. The completed 2016 Program Scoresheet shows the scores for each project, as well as the individual item scores that add up to the total.

The projects that will be included in the FY2016 competition and the rank order and tier for each project are as follows:

  1. HMIS
  2. Catholic Charities RRH
  3. Catholic Charities RRH 2
  4. Catholic Charities RRH 3
  5. FOH Coordinated Assessment
  6. Gandara SHINE RRH
  7. HAP RRH
  8. HRU Next Step 2
  9. MHA Annie’s House
  10. VOC Scattered Site Family Support
  11. HRU Next Step
  12. Open Pantry Tranquility House
  13. RVCC HIV/AIDS Residential Support
  14. MHA S+C SRA 48
  16. MHA S+C SRA 13
  18. FOH Worthington House Campus
  19. MHA S+C Recovery
  20. FOH PSH
  21. CHD Project Performance
  22. HAP Turning Point
  23. SMOC Bowdoin Street
  24. Gandara SHINE Program

Projects 1 through 20 and part of project 21 are placed in Tier 1. The remaining projects are in Tier 2.