Family Services Committee Meeting Minutes
October 14, 2014
In attendance: Jane Banks, Center for Human Development, Ashley Brehm, HAPHousing, Melissa Brown, YWCA, Bonnie Caldwell, DHCD, Cris Carl, ServiceNet, Claudia Catalano, DPH, Susan Colwell, DCF, Pat Duffy, Rep. Vega’s office, Harry Duchesne, New England Farm Workers Council, Anthia Elliott, Safe Passage, Rose Evans, DHCD, John Fister, HAPHousing, Julia Guazzo, CFCE, Eryka Haase, Tenancy Preservation Proejct, Flo Haves, EEC, Donna Harris, Franklin Hampshire Career Center, Steve Huntley, Valley Opportunity Council, Faith Lafayette, DPH – FOR Families, Lisa Lapierre, Secure Jobs (CPM), Fran Lemay, ServiceNet, Jane Lindfors, DTA DV Unit, Ses Lopez, CareerPoint/SJC, Ashley Mann, New Lease, Melissa Mateus, Springfield Partners, Heather Marshall, Elizabeth Freeman Center, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Janet Mock, Square One, Darlene Morse, CareerPoint/SJC, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Halie Nicolosi, Harvard Catalyst, Jordana O’Connell, Holyoke Public Schools, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Tom Pilcik, New Lease, Dorothy Pink, Valley Opportunity Council/WIC, Steve Plummer, Springfield Partners, Liza Rios, YWCA, Hilda Santa, Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Robin Sherman, Franklin County Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority, Sarah Slautterback, DESE, Rachel Trant, DCF, Holyoke State Representative Aaron Vega, Janette Vigo, HAPHousing, Lauren Voyer, HAPHousing, Abigail Williams, Harvard Catalyst, Phyllis White, Franklin Hampshire Career Center, Alicia Zoeller, Holyoke Community Development
Pamela welcomed special guests Representative Aaron Vegan, Rose Evans, DHCD Associate Director of Division of Housing Stabilization and Abigail Williams of Harvard Catalyst.
General update from Rose Evans, DHCD Associate Director of Division of Housing Stabilization:
Rose noted FY2014 highlights: 1,000 new households with MRVP subsidies; expansion of state investment in Secure Jobs statewide by $1.5 million; funding for 3,000 units of Permanent Supportive Housing through Housing Stabilization Trust Fund; increase of Household Assistance from $4K to $6K (continuing initiative into FY 2015). The Commonwealth reached a milestone of producing over 20,000 units since 2007.
Regarding shelter capacity: The Commonwealth expanded capacity in FY14, ending the year with an increase of over 700 beds. This effort continues into FY15 as the demand for shelter increases. Shelter capacity will increase by an additional 800 beds in FY15 with 200-300 in Western Mass.
The shelter system has not been “resized” since 2009. An increase in shelter beds is the most appropriate course in view of the continued demand and the desire to decrease reliance on motels and provide more comprehensive services to families.
The FY15 budget includes an increase in Household Assistance upon exiting shelter from $6K to $8K. This has enhanced families’ capacity to become rehoused.
Rose noted the New Lease program. Tom Pilchik, the director, shared that thus far it has moved 65 families out of shelter into apartments. Very exciting initiative.
Rose also noted that DHCD has started case management services at selected hotels (where there are high numbers of families or in remote locations). DHCD also hired for a new staff position, Felisha Bennett, to oversee operations and to supervise 3 transitional specialists (Juanita Diaz In the Western Mass office).
Rose also noted the FY15 change in MRVP language so that MRVPs are now blind to EA eligibility. Families living in motels and shelter will not have a priority. DHCD is moving to a statewide wait list for MRVPs. This will take time to implement but the process is underway. Meanwhile, housing authorities have released frozen MRVPs and regional housing authorities have been issued new MRVP’s.
Rose provided a breakdown of the 450 families currently living in motels in Western Mass:
242 from Hampshire, Hampden and Franklin Counties
Other 50% not from W. Mass. DHCD is working very hard to relocate families back to their communities of origin but they have faced the additional challenge of several “extended stay” hotels in Boston area discontinuing business with the Commonwealth. This has resulted in the loss of 233 shelter beds.
Gerry McCafferty posed the question of whether DHCD is considering use of a screening tool (similar to VI-SPDAT that is being implemented for homeless individuals) to prioritize housing resources?
Rose offered that DHCD can get to certain indicators through HUD assessments; can “drill down” based on certain critiera. She will look into that. Continue reading