Category Archives: Family Services Committee

Family Services Committee Meeting Minutes – 8/18/15

 Family Services Meeting Minutes – 8/18/15

In attendance: Jane Banks, CHD, Yoshi Bird, CHD, Bonnie Caldwell, DHCD, Sarah Cloutier, YWCA, Hillary Cronin, VA, Anthia Elliott, Safe Passage, Rose Evans, DHCD, Erin Forbush, ServiceNet, Julia Guazzo, CFCE, Donna Harris, Franklin Hampshire Career Center, Mary Johnson, Central West Justice Center, Fran Lemay, ServiceNet, Jane Lindfors, DTA DV Unit, Heather Marshall, Elizabeth Freeman Center, Luz Marcano, Dept. of Veterans Affairs, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Kristy Navarro, YWCA, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Amy Rowen, VA, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Janette Vigo, HAPHousing, Lauren Voyer, HAPHousing, Arelis Whitaker, Springfield Partners

Welcome and introductions:
We welcomed Rose Evans, DHCD Deputy Undersecretary, to the meeting. Thanks to Rose for taking the time to join our discussion.

Discussion of DHCD data regarding family homelessness:
We reviewed the Committee’s data request to DHCD, including the request for breakdowns of W. Mass. families in shelters, motels; the number of applications and entries into EA; the number of exits and diversions, the breakdown of family composition, etc. Rose referred us to the DHCD website link with publicly available information –

We compared what was available with what the Network had requested. Rose offered greater context and background to the discussion:

DHCD has invested millions of dollars in the last 1.5 years to upgrade its HMIS and data compliance systems.  They are moving rapidly towards “one family, one record.”  Providers can now get into the system and see family history – where they have been, whether shelter or hotels, compliance issues  Providers are currently getting up to speed in using it.  DHCD is also working across agencies – meeting regularly with secretaries from DCF, DPH, DTA, DMH – to break through the data silos so they can go “horizontal” – across agency – instead of just “vertical.”

Providers have access to all the info they need to rehouse families quickly and well (e.g., number of kids, ages, towns of origin, all the things the Network asked for).  Rose noted that there is no need for that data to be more broadly disseminated since it raises privacy issues (at least 13% of families in system suffer DV – privacy and safety are vital concerns) and access to this data more widely is not necessary to serve the rehousing goal.

Rose noted that the state is not permitted to spend state EA funds on meeting federal data requirements and that HUD’s requirements are not mandatory to the state program.  She noted that MA is in a unique position due to being the only state with a right to shelter law (as a state we spend far more on family homelessness than the federal government does in MA). DHCD is continuing to work on meeting the HUD data requirements so there is uniformity and since doing so enhances CoC funding applications (and we all agreed the data is worthy).

We reviewed the most recent publicly available data. Western MA hotel numbers continue to drop (May – 140; June 106), along with the rest of the state (total number is 1,270 as of June).

Rose noted that Western MA is the strongest region across the state, both in placements out of shelter and in diversions from shelter. Also new shelter capacity in the region and across the state is a significant contributing factor to the reduction of families in hotels.

There is currently a 13% return rate to shelter statewide (number not available for Western MA). 20% is the national norm. Reasons are largely income-based (average income is less than $500/month) but other social factors are extremely relevant, e.g., race, ethnicity.

Data on reasons for homelessness is also available statewide statewide, but not for Western MA.

The average length of stay in shelter is 7 months statewide (data not available for Western MA).

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Webinar Invite: Landlord Recruitment/Engagement – Best Practices [Zero 2016]

As part of Zero 2016, Community Solutions is offering a webinar series on best practices for recruiting and engaging landlords. With our widespread use of rapid rehousing and tenant-based permanenent supportive housing models, we need to be sure that we are engaging and supporting our landlord partners. The webinars will present best practices from communities with successful models.

Please feel free to join one or more of the calls:

Module 1: Building Local Infrastructure (a.k.a. Building the Runway)

Module 2: Sharing Effective Outreach Strategies 1 (Mayor-Led Events, Outreach to Large, Medium, Small Companies)

Module 3: Sharing Effective Outreach Strategies 2 (Outreach to Apartment Rental Associations, Faith Communities, Civic Organizations, Real Estate Agents, Working with a local PHA)


  • Phone Number: 646-661-2933
  • Meeting Room Code: 1413051
  • Participant Access Code provided in a pop-up window when you enter the virtual room

Family Services Committee Meeting Minutes – 7/14/15

Family Services Committee Meeting Minutes
July 14, 2015

In attendance: Jane Banks, CHD, Sarah Cloutier, YWCA, Charity Day, Franklin County Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority, Linda Driscoll, CHD, Anthia Elliott, Safe Passage, Erin Forbush, ServiceNet, Donna Harris, Franklin Hampshire Career Center, Sean Hemingway, CHD, Heather Marshall, Elizabeth Freeman Center, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Stephen Roussel, Community Action, Hilda Santa, Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Rachel Trant, DCF, Jennifer Wands, Springfield Public Schools, Arelis Whitaker, Springfield Partners,

FY16 State Budget review:

The FY16 state budget is now before the Governor. We reviewed budget items pertaining to family homelessness as summarized in the Mass Budget and Policy Center analysis (click here ). Overall, we agreed that this budget was very positive for housing and homelessness prevention programs. Specifically with regard to Network priorities: HCEC funding was fully restored to 2014 levels (allowing for administration of the RAFT program among other important items); Secure Jobs received $750,000 in funding (with an additional $100K from Fireman Foundation committed this year); MRVPs received a significant increase. A lot of good news!

Jane Banks also pointed out that CHD received an additional $170,000 from DHCD to assist with diversion efforts at DTA/DHCD’s front door (e.g., will help pay for back rent owed or utility bills, to resolve barriers). This will be an important resource to preserve tenancies.

Data review

Pamela shared the data she received from Rose Evans (DHCD Associate Director of Division of Housing) regarding family homelessness (click here). Great progress on reducing the numbers of families in motels in W. Mass. (down to 118). Congratulations to all involved in the rehousing efforts. Due to the decrease in numbers, HAP is now the sole provider working with all families in motels in Hampden County.

In Franklin County, there are currently 29 families living in the Days Inn, the vast majority of whom are local families. FCRHRA and ServiceNet and FOR Families are working very hard to rehouse these families. Charity Day reported that the biggest challenge in Franklin County is unit availability – right now there are 79 vouchers distributed between Greenfield Housing Authority and FCRHRA and no units available to use them. This is the biggest challenge of all. Others in Hampden and Hampshire Counties echoed the challenge, especially for affordable 3 BR apartments.

Charity noted that they are working with the Greenfield Recorder to do a story on the issue to get the word out to landlords. We also noted the National Public Radio series on HUD’s pilot program (in other parts of the country) to allow for increase in Fair Market Rents to enable tenants to find apartments in higher cost areas (Northampton and Amherst would qualify!). We will learn more about this.

Review of Western MA Opening Doors Plan Strategies:

We reviewed the family homelessness strategies in the Plan (see p. 24 of the Plan) and had an initial brainstorm about our priorities for the development of our committee workplan. Expressed priority preferences include:

  • Bridging the gap between EA and DCF with regard to resources for homeless families due to domestic violence
  • Increasing workforce development opportunities, especially in Hampden County with MGM construction and jobs on the horizon. There is also interest in learning more about the housing inventory consequences as a result of this construction. Pamela will follow-up with Gerry to learn more.
  • Developing more affordable housing in areas with not enough of it – how to promote that. It was noted that we need to learn more about the infrastructure in the outlying communities, e.g., transportation, medical care, that is necessary for low-income families to reside there. Pamela said she would reach out to PVPC and learn more about what is in their housing plan that may already offer data on this. Consider reaching out to UMass to participate in transportation advocacy in Hampshire County (summer schedule seriously limited due to university schedule).
  • Rehousing efforts in Franklin County: Jane of CHD raised the prospect of Hampden County housing providers coming together to support housing search for Franklin County families.
  • DHCD collaboration on access to data: the group wanted to better understand why DHCD does not report out on reasons for EA eligibility denial
  • We agreed we should add transportation challenge as one of our strategies in the Plan since transportation access is so critical to ending homelessness (access to child care, employment). FRTA is seeking comments now on their transportation plan. Pamela will reconnect with PVPC on this issue since the Network partnered with PVPC on this issue a couple of years ago (and next steps were not clear enough to keep us moving on it)
  • Landlord outreach: the Zero 2016 campaign is hosting webinars on landlord outreach. We agreed committee members would participate and report back to the committee: 7/21 webinar: Jane Banks, Stephen Roussel, Janna Tetreault, Erin Forbush; 7/22: Charity Day, Stephen Roussel, Erin Forbush, 7/27: Lizzy Ortiz, Stephen Roussel, Hilda Santa, Erin Forbush

This discussion of strategy priorities and the development of a workplan with goals and timelines will continue at our next meeting.


Rachel Trant, DCF: its wait for family reunification program is now open; any DCF families in need of reunification resources should reach out to Rachel at:

Jane Banks, CHD: new tenancy preservation program is off the ground in Northampton, funded by the Northampton CPA, for Northampton households only, new staff person Linda Driscoll will be working out of First Churches. Will have contact information shortly.

Visioning Day with Homes for Families – a family advocacy day on 8/13 in Worcester – CHD providing buses, child care, from 9:30 am – 2:30 pm, contact Jane at if interested in attending or recruiting families.

Next meeting:

Tuesday, 8/18, 1 pm – 2:30 pm, Center for Human Development, 69 Capital Drive, West Springfield

Family Services Meeting Minutes – 6/9/15

Family Services Committee Meeting Minutes
June 9, 2015

 In attendance: Jason Allen, VA Leeds, Jane Banks, Center for Human Development, Bonnie Caldwell, DHCD, Kathleen Cinquegrara, Amherst Community Connections, Sarah Cloutier, YWCA, Hillary Cronin, VA Leeds, Anthia Elliott, Safe Passage, Heidi Gold, Simtech Solutions, Hwei-Ling Greeney, Amherst Community Connections, Julia Guazzo, CFCE, Sean Hemingway, Center for Human Development, Cheryl LaChance, HAPHousing, Fran Lemay, ServiceNet, Jane Lindfors, DTA DV Unit, Luz Marcano, VA-Springfield Outpatient Clinic, Justin Maynard, VA Leeds, Betty Miller, Valley Opportunity Council, Janet Mock, Square One, Sundarii, Moreira, Amherst Community Connections, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Dorothy Pink, Valley Opportunity Council, Steve Plummer, Springfield Partners for Community Action, Anna Quan, Amherst Community Connections, Hilda Santa, Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Sarah Slautterback, DESE, Rachel Trant, DCF, Arelis Whitaker, Springfield Partners

FY15 State Budget Update:

HAPHousing: HCEC almost out of FEMA funds. Next prevention funds available will be new RAFT money as of 7/1/15.

FY16 State Budget Update:

Pamela reported on Network FY16 budget priorities in relation to current budget process. The budget is in Conference Committee where they are ironing out differences between the House and Senate budgets. On Network priorities:

  • Secure Jobs was funded for $750,000 in Senate budget, better than $500,000 in House. Senate version also includes language directing agencies to seek other sources of funding (possibly Housing Stabilization Trust Fund). Since $2 million is necessary to level fund the program statewide, there will clearly be some changes as of 7/1. Donna reported that if the total continues to be $750,000, the contracts will have to be re-procured. We will stay tuned.
  • Housing Consumer Education Centers (HCECs) received requested funding (restored to FY14 levels) in House budget; only level funded in Senate. Will continue to advocate for House version.
  • Unaccompanied Homeless Youth received $2 million for housing and wraparound services in Senate budget; nothing in House. Will advocate for Senate version.
  • Network received earmark funding to continue coordination and implement Opening Doors Plan in House budget; nothing in Senate. Will advocate for House version.

Pamela urged all committee members to contact their legislators to urge support of these priorities to Conference Committee members (even better if your rep happens to be HWM Assistant Vice Chair Stephen Kulik). Go here to find your legislators.

Donna reported that DHCD will be funding shelters based on 8 month contracts (similar to last year as well). There will also be an increase in stabilization staff, aiming to get to a 1:30 staff/family ratio. The goal is to increase diversion to 30% at the front door (now at 20%).

DHCD data update:

Thanks to Bonnie Caldwell for bringing data report. Click here and here for reports.

Comments: motel numbers continue to go down (now below 1,300 statewide). It was noted by Jane Lindfors that DV count appears lower than reality because many families who became homeless due to DV are counted as “doubled-up” (and not as DV) by the time they enter the shelter system.

The consequences of early retirement were also noted. DHCD is losing 6 staff from central office and 24 from the field offices. DTA at the Liberty Street office in Springfield is also losing significant staff, as well as DCF. These are big numbers and it is unclear how this will impact service delivery and case load management. Concerning.

Western MA Opening Doors Plan Review and Discussion – click here for the draft Plan

Pamela provided a summary of what was learned at the Systems Design Clinic offered last week by the National Alliance to End Homelessness (see day 2 powerpoint attached). Then Pamela pulled out pages of Plan pertaining to famiy services, sharing the current big-picture data and the couple of strategies the Plan poses thus far. Pamela welcomed input around additional strategies and concerns.

Below is a summary of suggested strategies:

  • The value of a housing registry so that case managers can be coordinated in their outreach to landlords and can know where there are available units. Pamela pointed out the Network’s creation of the Housing Options Tool (by Andrea Miller) that offers some version of this electronic matching system. While the tool is on the Network website, it is not being maintained or updated due to lack of resources right now. This is something to revisit if the Network receives additional funding next fiscal year.
  • Lack of housing supply for families – issues of enough space, accessibility. We should look at abandoned, boarded up buildings in Hampden County (Springfield, Holyoke) as housing opportunities.
  • Lack of DV attention in Plan. Right now the only way DV families can access the EA system is if they are evicted from shelter. The DV shelters receive nominal re-housing funds. We need to incorporate the needs of these families into the Plan.
  • Concern over Amherst/Northampton area and cost of housing. Impossible to move to less expensive surrounding towns due to lack of transportation.
  • In view of state funding challenges to Secure Jobs program, we should be careful to ensure that the term “Secure Jobs” pertains to all workforce development efforts that will continue beyond any immediate funding loss.
  • Consider how to engage landlords as part of the rehousing solution
  • Consider prioritization list for families who need Permanent Supportive Housing
  • Consider how to deal with confidentiality issues pertaining to rehousing DV families
  • Expand diversion efforts
  • Consider value of “peer support,” a model that has met with great success in serving homeless veterans

Pamela will resend the Plan to invite additional feedback.

Next meeting: July 14, 9:30-11, Northampton location to be determined