Category Archives: Meeting Minutes

A Message from DHCD Undersecretary Aaron Gornstein

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

I am writing to let you know that my last day at DHCD will be on Wednesday, January 7.   I am very grateful to Governor Patrick and Secretary Bialecki for affording me this unique opportunity to serve as Undersecretary for the past three years.


With the hard work and commitment of the DHCD staff, our local and regional partners, and the Massachusetts legislature, we have much to be proud of.   We have expanded affordable housing production, preserved expiring use properties, boosted low income homeownership, revitalized and reformed state public housing, comprehensively addressed homelessness, expanded rental assistance, advanced community planning and development, promoted fair housing, enhanced energy efficiency in affordable housing, passed a $1.4 billion housing bond bill, expanded the state housing tax credit, and increased the DHCD capital and operating budgets.


Together, we have focused on improving the effectiveness of our existing programs while launching new ones.   Some of our new initiatives and programs include:  Supportive Housing Initiative; Secure Jobs; Learning, Employment, and Assets Program (MassLEAP); High Leverage Asset Preservation Program (HILAPP); expansion of MRVP and RAFT; improvements to HomeBASE; Planning Assistance Toward Housing (PATH); New Lease for Homeless Families; Massachusetts Homeownership Compact; Housing Development Incentive Program (HDIP); Social Innovation Financing (SIF); Community Investment Tax Credit Program (CITC); project-basing of MRVP, VASH, Section 811, and federal Enhanced Vouchers; a centralized, online waiting list for public housing; and much more.


None of these gains would have been possible without your active engagement and feedback.  Your advocacy, advice, and participation have been absolutely critical.  Thank you for all that you do to improve the lives of low and moderate income residents in our state.  Have a great Holiday Season.


With deep respect and gratitude,


Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Minutes – 12/10/14

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee Meeting Minutes
December 10, 2012

In attendance: Shannon Barry, Springfield Public Schools, Pamela Cook, Gandara SHINE program, Pam Fijial, Chicopee Public Schools, Lisa Goldsmith, Dial/SELF, Sarah Kline, North Adams School Public Schools, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Kim Majewski, Gandara Center, Jordana O’Connell, Holyoke Public School Liaison, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Jean Rogers, CHD, Pamela Schwartz, Network

Youth Count Discussion:

Reminder on school policy: we can connect with schools – with superintendent approval – and use them as a conduit to outside events for homeless youth, i.e., distribution of flyers and information.

Confirmed that the count applies to all unaccompanied homeless youth, ages 18-24. “Homeless” is defined to include doubling-up and couch-surfing (distinct from HUD rules on Point In Time Count). The count/surveys will take place from Wed., 1/28 through the following Tuesday, 2/3.

Hampden County update:

Lizzy Ortiz is organizing 2 magnet events, STCC and HCC. They will offer food and gift cards and have outreach workers present to provide follow-up support available (e.g., via CHD, SHINE) for any interested youth. Lizzy is scheduling a meeting before the holidays with service providers to train and organize around outreach.

We discussed outreach to Chicopee youth, acknowledging the transportation barriers to get to Holyoke or Springfield magnet events. But limited resources preclude Lizzy from organizing a 3rd event. Possible solutions: promote use of the online survey (Liz Rogers of DHCD is working on creating this capacity) and advertise the Chicopee Public Library as a location to complete the survey. We also brainstormed a Chicopee contact that could be placed on the event flyers, e.g,. “if you can’t make it to Holyoke or Springfield, contact xxx.” Lizzy will reach out to the Chicopee Boys and Girls Club to see if they would be willing to provide that local resource.

Lizzy will send their provider outreach letter to Three County folks for use as possible template. Click here for Hampden County letter.

Pamela shared Gerry’s compilation of last year’s data on Hampden County’s unaccompanied youth.  Click here to review. Pamela will distribute it electronically as well. Interesting findings: 234 youth surveyed; 193 youth homeless, 29 doubled up; 53 youth at risk of becoming homeless; 95% between ages of 18-24 (5% under 18).

Three County Update:

Dave Christopolis was unable to attend this meeting but relayed via email that he is meeting with three county point people – Rebecca, Terri, Lisa – over the next few days to organize outreach. Lisa reported that she assumes an outreach letter to providers will be going out shortly.

Jay Levy requested that the surveys and gift cards get distributed to outreach workers at least a week prior to the count so that where more individual outreach occurs – in Hampshire County, e.g. – outreach workers are prepared to go when it’s time.

Legislative priorities discussion:

We agreed we would continue to prioritize the passage of the unaccompanied homeless youth bill (formerly known as House Bill 135) and , assuming that passes by the end of Governor Patrick’s term (the hope), we will then follow the Mass. Coalition for the Homeless’ lead on the advocacy for the funding necessary to enact the bill.

We also agreed we would connect with MHSA around its youth piece of Home and Healthy for Good.

We raised the recently launched Social Impact Bond initiative launched by MA (“pay for success” model) and discussed whether there are tie-ins for chronically homeless youth.   Pamela will follow up with MHSA and MHA (Jerry Ray) to learn more.

Next meeting dates:

Thursday, 1/15, 10 am, Northampton Senior Center

Wednesday, 2/11, 10 am, Springfield, BHN (following Springfield liaison meeting)

Family Services Meeting Minute – 12/9/14

Family Services Meeting Committee Minutes
December 9, 2014

In attendance: Shannon Barry, Springfield Public Schools, Toni Bator, HAPHousing, Kathryn Buckley-Brawner, Catholic Charities, Bonnie Caldwell, DHCD, Jamie Chazan, Valley Opportunity Council, Sarah Cloutier, YWCA, Charity Day, Franklin County Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority, Harry Duchesne, New England Farm Workers Council, Brenda Douglas, Square One ,Jill Fijal, Chicopee Public Schools, Donna Harris, Franklin Hampshire Career Center, Sean Hemingway, Center for Human Development, Faith Lafayette, DPH FOR Families, Jane Lindfors, DTA DV unit, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Janet Mock, Square One, jordana O’Connell, Holyoke Public Schoos, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Steve Plummer, Springfield Partners, Liza Rios, YWCA, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Lauren Voyer, HAPHousing

DHCD Update (Bonnie Caldwell):

Families in hotels: 1,720 statewide, continuing to decline. For Western Mass., we are down from 500 to 345 families living in hotels. This decline Is due to a number of factors: increased diversion at the front door; increased shelter capacity statewide, allowing families to back to their communities of origin.

Additional support staff in hotels is making a difference. Great coordination among all providers – HAPHousing, CHD, NEFWC, ServiceNet.

Diversion from shelter at DHCD’s front door is up from 5 per cent to 15 per cent. This is due to the placement of 2 full-time CHD staff in the DHCD office. The staff are fantastic at what they do and the model of being AT the DHCD office works.

Towards the Network goal of becoming more data-driven in our outcomes, we discussed the utility of establishing a standard DHCD template of informative data to review each month.   We brainstormed this possible list of monthly data:

# of shelter entries/denials (by DHCD office)
# diverted (by DHCD office)
# of families experiencing domestic violence
# of exits from shelters and hotels
#s of families re-entering shelter
# of families out of community of origin

Bonnie will bring this back to DHCD and report back about what is available at our next meeting.

New Family Permanent Supportive Housing Available

Valley Opportunity Council announced that they are now taking referrals for their new scattered site PSH for chronically homeless families. 8 units available for 20 people total, including 4 disabled adults over age 24, 4 disabled adults between 18 and 24 and 12 unaccompanied non-disabled children under the age of 18. Families must meet a minimum score on the family VI-SPDAT (assessment tool). A ½ time case manager will be available for support services.

Click here for more information, or contact Jamie Chazan at VOC at, 413-552-1554 ext. 701. Continue reading

Help us prepare for the 2015 Youth Count

We need your input as we prepare for the 2015 Homeless/At-Risk Youth Count, which will take place the last week of January 2015. We know that homeless youth often try NOT to be found, which makes it difficult to get an accurate count and understanding of this population’s needs.

Help us out by completing our survey, and sharing the survey broadly, so that we hear from many people who connect with youth. Click below to take the short survey: