Category Archives: Family Services Committee

Family Services Committee Meeting Minutes – 10/9/18

Family Services Committee Meeting Minutes – 10/9/18

In attendance: Yoshi Bird, YWCA, Lynnann Brown, Elizabeth Freeman Center, Carla Chioda, Adams-Cheshire Schools, Emma Ciccarillo, YWCA, Joel Cox, NEFWC, Rose Flores, YWCA, Jessica Jacobs, Tenancy Preservation Project, Fran Lemay, ServiceNet, Heather Marshall, Elizabeth Freeman Center, Yeisie Mateo, DCF, Michelle Michaelian, BHN, Theresa Nicholson, CHD, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Janette Vigo, Way Finders

Discussion with Assistant Undersecretary Jane Banks re: re-procurement of family system:

Jane Banks was able to join us on the phone for a good portion of our meeting.  She reported that the Request for Information (RFI) for the family system re-procurement (slated for July, 2020) will be released end of November/early December with a couple months allowed for responding. She strongly encouraged the following:

  • consider how to build collaborations within the system with DV providers and mental health/substance use providers; how to make a system that responds to sexual assault survivors. Establish the relationships and connections “from the ground up.”
  • consider how to build more intensive, on-the-ground collaborations with state agency local offices, including DCF, DMH, DTA
  • consider how to build partnerships with legal advocates in a more effective way, to build relationships that are less adversarial and more collaboratively problem-solving, e.g., meet monthly with the advocacy community
  • consider how to build the stabilization process; how are we going to keep families housed; how to best use HomeBASE for that purpose (meeting with a family once-a-month is not sufficient – how do we connect with other stakeholders to strengthen the family; consider mobile outreach teams; consider stronger ties to workforce development)
  • consider a joint Network response to the RFI – strongly encouraged!
  • THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX – how do we make a system that works better for families!

The group discussed these ideas after the call and agreed that it should meet in smaller sub-groups around the particulars.  Janette will check back in with Lauren regarding the quarterly family providers meeting (next one happens to be 10/26 at Way Finders) and whether it makes sense to utilize that meeting to start this conversation.  Pamela will be back in touch regarding next steps, but we will aim for targeted meetings by topic, e.g., DV/sexual assault survivors; mental health/substance use providers; legal advocates.

Other announcements:

  • BHN’s Project FIT is ending at the end of this calendar year due to lack of funding.  Michelle will provide us with some summary data so we can learn from it (and also bring its success into the re-procurement conversations).
  • The Network is hosting its legislative gathering on Friday, November 16, 1 pm – 3 pm, Greenfield Community College.  State legislators, mayors, and other elected officials will be in attendance for a session on the “state of homelessness” in the region and our best practices to address it.  Please register here.
  • The Network is sponsoring trainings offered by OrgCode, a highly reputed training group on issues of homelessness.  On December 18, it will offer “how to run an awesome shelter” – stay tuned for a registration link but for now if you are a shelter provider, please mark your calendar for this all-day training!

Next meeting dates:
Tuesday, November 13, 11 am – 12:30 pm
Tuesday, December 11, 11 am – 12:30 pm
Location for both: HCC, Frost Building, Room 309

 

Family Services Committee Meeting Minutes – 9/18/18

Family Services Committee Meeting
September 18, 2018
 
In attendance: Shelley Benoit, BHN, Melissa Blisset, Square One, Lynnanne Brown, Elizabeth Freeman Center, Portia Bullock?, NEFWC, Ellen Broadhurst, Chicopee Public Schools, Hillary Cronin, VA HUD VASH, Anthia Elliott, BHN, Fran Lemay, Greenfield Family Inn/ServiceNet, Heather Marshall, Elizabeth Freeman House, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Janna Teatrault, Community Action, Melissa White, Valley Opportunity Council
DHCD data review – click here
We reviewed the data provided by DHCD and confirmed our continued need for greater clarity, e.g., to include the transfer number in the number of entries and exits does not provide us with meaningful data.  We also agreed it would be useful to understand:
  • among the number of EA applicants, how many were diverted, and within that number, how many used RAFT, how many used HomeBASE
  • on the data sheet that details “where client went upon exit” the first box says “emergency shelter” – need to clarify that
We also agreed that once Donna has returned (10/1), we will ask for her placement numbers to be added to the monthly report.
Network earmark update
Pamela shared the Network Steering Committee conversation regarding the allocation of the Network earmark of $125,000.  The current proposal is to allocate $25,000 to training needs for the Network focused on a range of skills and practices, including trauma-informed care, how to run a housing oriented shelter, and cultural competency.  The remainder would be allocated to flexible funds to assist with prevention and rapid rehousing, including landlord mitigation funds (e.g., repairs, etc.) to encourage renting to tenants. The Committee unanimously supported this proposal.
Family Services Committee work plan
The Network Steering Committee also requested that the Network committees consider its goals and broad work plan for this fiscal year.  After discussion, the group recommended these broad goals:
  • relationship building and information sharing (supports motivation and positive energy in the work)
  • legislative advocacy – a unified voice and opportunity to meet with legislators
  • professional development through Network sponsored trainings
We agreed to further brainstorm outcome measures related to # of legislative meetings and legislative outcomes and # of people attending trainings, broken down by agency type and sub-region so we can best assess Network reach and impact.
Network Legislative Meeting: November 16, 1-3 pm, Greenfield Community College
The Network is hosting a legislative meeting to introduce the 5 new legislators in the Upper Valley.  It will be regionwide, including all Western MA legislators and local officials and Network partners.  Stay tuned for additional info but mark your calendars for now!
Next meeting dates/times
Our previous meeting time of 1 pm on Tuesday permanently conflicts with Hampden County’s individual case conferencing meetings which precludes Gerry McCafferty, the Hampden CoC liaison, from ever attending these meetings.  All agreed that it was no problem (and for some, even preferred!) to move the time to at least afford the opportunity for her to join us.
In general, we will move our meeting time to 11 am-12:30 pm but due to a conflict in October, for the October meeting we will meet from 12 noon-1:30 pm.
So our upcoming meeting schedule is:
 
Tues., 10/9, 12 noon – 1:30 pm
Tues., 11/13, 11 am – 12:30 pm
Tues., 12/11, 11 am – 12:30 pm
Note: Unfortunately, the Holyoke Public Library is not available, but HCC’s Frost Room 309 is.  So our meetings will take place there.

Family Services Meeting Minutes – 8/7/18

Family Services Committee Meeting Minutes
August 7, 2018
 
In attendance: Melissa Blissett, Square One, Joel Cox, NEFWC, Hillary Cronin, VA, Christine Cullen, Holyoke Chicopee Family Community Program, 
Jennifer Gonzalez, Holyoke Public Schools, Jessica Jacobs, TPP, Fran Lemay, ServiceNet, Heather Marshall, Elizabeth Freeman Center, Theresa Nicholson, CHD, Lizzy Ortiz, Mercy Medical, Steve Plummer, Springfield Partners, Jenni Pothier, TPP, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Rachel Shuman, WomanShelter, Tonya Sparks, WomanShelter, Janna Tetrault, Community Action, Janette Vigo, Way Finders, Jennifer Wands, Springfield Public Schools
 
State EA Data Review (click here)
Follow-up questions for DHCD:
  • Do the number of applicants listed in Pittsfield and Greenfield include phone applications?
  • Can we get families entering shelter excluding transfers?
  • Can we get diversion numbers (at the front door)?
  • Is there tracking of returns to shelter post end of HomeBASE benefit?
Pamela will follow-up with Andrew and Donna in advance of the next meeting.
FY19 State budget
Family homelessness related highlights include:
  • RAFT funded at $20m (including at least $3m for individuals)
  • HomeBASE benefit increased from $8,000 to $10,000
  • Elimination of family cap (so families are not penalized if they have another child while receiving benefits)
  • Youth homelessness was funded at $3.3m – will be used to develop a youth homelessness program in 10 regions across the state – Western MA is counted as 2 regions with Hampden County and Three County.
  • Tenancy Preservation Project funded at $1.3m (up from $500,000); the bulk of the increase will go to serve new housing court expansion in other parts of the state
  • The Network received its earmark of $125,000.  The Steering Committee will be meeting at the end of August to discuss budget planning.
Update on Puerto Rico evacuees
Way Finders is administering the METAR program (MA Evacuee Temporary Assistance Reserve Program) and has hired a team of housing case managers and a program case manager.  The program provides up to $8,000 for families and $4,000 for individuals. Thus far they have assessed 109 households (103 are living in hotels) and 22 families have been housed thus far.  Way Finders has walk-in hours, Tues.,Wed. and Thurs, 9 am – 1 pm.
Springfield Public Schools has 650 student evacuees.
Holyoke Public Schools has 250 registered student evacuees.
Hampden County CoC Update (from Gerry McCafferty via email):
  • Springfield-Hampden CoC is moving into coordinated entry for Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) for families.  Way Finders and NEFWC have been trained on electronic system, CHD and VOC will be trained soon.
  • CoC competition applications due by 8/8/18, 4 pm.  The RFP is available: Springfield-Hampden CoC Competition RFP FY18
  • CoC has just released RFP looking for local partners to apply for Mass Homeless Youth Program.  Note that target population are all youth 18-24, including parenting youth. Responses are due 8/29/18 and the CoC will hold a bidders’ conference on 8/17, 18, 10 am, Springfield Municipal Operations Center, 70 Tapley St. Springfield. Go to: 19-025 Homeless Youth Services and 19-025 Addendum No. 1
DHCD Procurement Meeting Debrief: On July 26, DHCD (Jane Banks and Donna Nadeau) convened a meeting of Western MA EA shelter providers to begin the conversation around the upcoming re-procurement process (not due out until next year). The consensus was that it was a good start; for some newcomers to the system, it was a good way to learn more about our current systems.  There was emphasis on the need for greater and more in-depth continuity of service – ensuring families are in the right program model that best meets kids’ and parents’ needs, especially related to mental health.  The group discussed the particularly complex challenges facing larger families.
It was noted that this was the first meeting and there will be opportunity for further discussion and planning together.  Pamela offered the Network as a resource in facilitating further regional conversations.
Announcement: Holyoke and Chicopee Family and Community Program (662 High Street, Holyoke) is offering a nurturing place program for infants and toddlers  – meets weekly on Tuesdays.  Call 413-536-0363 for more information.
Meeting schedule: all at Holyoke Public Library
Sept. 18 – 1-2:30 pm
Oct. 9, 1-2:30 pm
Nov. 13, 1-2:30 pm
Dec. 11, 1-2:30 pm

Family Services Committee Meeting Minutes – 5/8/18

Family Services Committee Meeting Minutes
May 8, 2018
 
In attendance:  Shelly Benoit, BHN, Joel Cox, PFC/NEFWC, Hillary Cronin, VA HUD VASH, Fran LeMay, ServiceNet (Greenfield Family Inn), Yeisie Matea, DCF, Heather Marshall, Elizabeth Freeman Center, Michelle Michaelian, BHN, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Steve Plummer Springfield Partners, Jenni Pothier, MHA/TPP, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Tonya Sparks, Womanshelter, Janna Tetreault, Community Action, Janette Vigo, Way Finders, Melissa White, VOCpartnership of affordable housing owners and homeless shelters – started 2012-2013 – private multi-family units – DHCD 

DHCD Data Review:  We reviewed the monthly report provided by DHCD (thanks to Andrew and Donna) and we determined the following questions that Donna will  follow-up with Andrew to discuss (thank you, Donna!):
  • Is it possible to get the number entering and exiting shelter without the internal shelter transfers included (since with them, the number tells us nothing)
  • The number of families with DV history has stayed constant at 42 for the past 4 months.  What does that tell us about the data entry?
Homelessness Resource Fair Planning
 
The Resource Fair is taking place on June 14, 9:30-12:30, HCC, Kittredge Center.  We have received registration forms from 101 people so far.  We have 8 workshops planned and have the opportunity to repeat 4 of them.  We agreed with the other committee input so far to repeat: how the EA system works; career services; overcoming tenant screening barriers and the opioid epidemic’s intersection with homelessness.
Anyone interested in attending the Resource Fair or having table space can simply be advised to email me at pschwartz77@gmail.com (it’s not critical to complete the registration form).  Most important is to have names of who is attending and organizations who want to have table space.
New Lease for Homeless Families – presentation by Tom Plihcik, executive director
contact info: tplihcik@newleasehousing.org, 857-233-5821
Special thanks to Tom for making the trip from Eastern MA to share an overview of New Lease and its work in Western MA.  Below are some highlights from his talk and the discussion:
  • New Lease is a non-profit organization that came into existence as a pilot project, initially through the inspiration and funding of affordable housing development owners seeking a better system for ensuring stable tenancies and fewer vacancies.  It is now funded by a combination of state dollars through DHCD, owners’ contributions and other traditional fundraising efforts.It is housed at CHAPA offices in Boston with a staff of 3.
  • New Lease offers affordable housing owners a way to utilize preferences (as approved by HUD) – in this instance a homelessness preference as defined by EA – to fill vacancies.  It partners with EA shelters to create a waiting list so tenants are at the ready, pre-qualified, paper work complete, and ready to move in when a vacancy occurs.  Owners decide how many units to allocate to this preference – could be every one, could be every other, or ever 5 – completely up to the owner.  It is also possible to implement other preferences, e.g, elderly, veterans – as allowed by HUD – which New Lease can help facilitate as well.
  • New Lease now works within 50 buildings across the state – 9 larger affordable housing owners – and partners with 16 shelter providers. Biggest regions are Boston and Springfield.
  • In Western MA, New Lease has 8 properties in Springfield, Palmer, Greenfield and Pittsfield. Working to get one in Holyoke.  Tom will send us a more detailed list of buildings in our region.
  • They have been housing people since 2013. 98% retention rate. The success also fuels the challenge of gaining more units (with such high retention, moving families in requires adding more units).
  • The program also offers a “mitigation process” for families who are rejected from tenancies due to credit or landlord histories.  New Lease creates housing success for one-third of the families who first time “fail” in their applications (98% success rate). They work with the longest shelter stayers to get them housed.
  • New Lease works with the shelter stabilization workers over the 12 months but then continues to provide support as needed.  They have created a flexible fund to deal with tenancy crises, e.g., rent arrearages.  They have just hired a staff person devoted to stabilization services.
  • If we have any contacts with affordable housing owners, please relay to Tom. Always looking for new relationships to build.  This effort is all about partnerships!
Update on Resources for PR Evacuees: Catholic Charities has received additional housing funds targeted to house PR evacuees.  It has housed 94 families thus far and another 100 families in process.  Please contact Kathryn Buckley-Brawner at k.brawner@diospringfield.org or 413-433-1007 for additional information.
Next meeting date: We agreed to meet the week following the Resource Fair to debrief (as opposed to our usual 2nd Tuesday which would put us 2 days before the Resource Fair).  We will meet next on: Tues., June 19, 1 pm – 2:30 pm, Location TBD.