Category Archives: Family Services Committee

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.

Family Services Committee Meeting Minutes – 3/28/18

Family Services Meeting Minutes
March 28, 2018
In attendance:  Shelly Benoit, BHN, Project FIT, Joel Cox, NEFWC, Dawn DiSefano, Square One, Emily English, Gandara Center, Tavar Jones, Arise for Social Justice, Jane Lindfors, DTA Domestic Violence Unit, Fran Lemay, Greenfield Family Inn/ServiceNet, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Aisha Pizarro, YWCA, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Tj Steele, Springfield Partners, Janna Tetreault, Community Action, Janette Vigo, Way Finders, Melissa White, Valley Opportunity Council
Resource Fair Planning:
We reviewed the survey feedback on workshop interest.  In addition to the sub-population workshops on families (how the EA system works), youth, veterans, chronically homeless, DV services, career services, we will add two additional workshops: the opioid epidemic’s intersection with homelessness and overcoming tenant screening barriers.
On the opioid topic, it was suggested to reach out to Dr. Roose through Doreen Fadus of Mercy Medical Center who has done some training on how to assist with harm reduction while awaiting a treatment bed.  Tavar Jones of Arise also offered to connect us to their harm reduction task force.
We also agreed it would be important to get info out around needle exchange services.
On overcoming tenant screening barriers, it was suggested to reach out to Jen Dieringer of Community Legal Aid; Arise also may be able to assist.  Pamela will reach out to both.
On the EA workshop: Janette Vigo and Donna Nadeau will work together to offer this.
Re: marketing and flyer: Donna Nadeau kindly volunteered to enlist her daughter who produces fliers like this.  Pamela will give her the info.
Homelessness data review (click here and here):
We reviewed the data provided by DHCD – one template produced by Andrew Pape of DHCD and data provided by Donna via her providers re: placements out of homelessness. It was noted that the # of families entering homelessness is greater than the number exiting and the vast majority of those exiting are going into market rate housing (via HomeBASE).  This points to the challenge of increasing the number of placements and to the lack of public and subsidized housing.
We discussed the need to enlist housing authorities in prioritizing units for homeless families.  We also discussed interest in an update from the New Lease program.  How is that program going in the Western part of the state?  Pamela will follow-up.
We also need to add the diversion number to the template and ask Andrew if he can match the format of Donna’s data with our monthly data so we can see the trend over months.
Hampden County Coordinated entry update
 
Gerry provided a summary of the effort to implement Coordinated Entry for chronically homeless families.  Right now, CHD, VOC, Springfield Housing Authority and Gandara Community Housing Program offer permanent supportive units for families, totaling roughly 40-50 units.  The VI-SPDAT assessment tool is being used to assess families’ vulnerability and placement on the priority list for a unit. Currently roughly 30 families have been assessed with the tool.  All housing providers are relying on the coordinated entry group waiting list to allocate an available unit.  It is important to assess all chronically homeless families so there can be an accurate accounting of the housing need and understanding of the need for more units.
Hampden County CoC is using an online system to record the VI-SPDATs and to administer the coordinated entry system.  The CoC is currently working with the State to get a Release of Information that can be utilized to more easily share data and allow quicker referrals within the system.
Fran Lemay was not aware of anything similar happening in the Three Count region.
Community Housing Program: Emily English of Gandara Center presented on this program for families in recovery.  There are 21 units total, 17 in Holyoke, 4 in Hampshire County.  Criteria includes the head of household is in recovery from substance use (6 months into recovery) and must have children or on a reunification plan. The goal is to live a sober life, continue to work on recovery and build stability.  The length of stay is up until the youngest child is 18; average length of stay is 3-5 years.  They work with Way Finders which administers the rent payments.  There are 2 and 3 bedroom apartments
Next meeting date: Tuesday, May 8, 9:30 am, Northampton Senior Center with sub-meetings happening to continue planning for the Resource Fair.

Family Services Minutes – 2/13/18

Family services meeting minutes of 2/13/18
 
In attendance: Shelly Benoit, BHN, Anthia Elliott, Safe Passage, Holly Florek, CHD, Fran Lemay, ServiceNet/Greenfield Family Inn, Jane Lindfors, DTA/DV unit, Heather Marshall, Elizabeth Freeman Center, Michelle Michaelian, BHN, Kathy Moss, BHN, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Stephen Plummer, Springfield Partners for Community Action, Jenni Pothier, MHA/TPP, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Tonya Sparks, WomanShelter, Janna Teatrault, Community Action, Janette Vigo, Way Finders, Lauren Voyer, Way Finders, Melissa White, Valley Opportunity Council
 

DHCD Data Report on Family Homelessness

We reviewed the data provided by DHCD (click here).  We recognized the limits of the shelter entry and exit data including all transfers (e.g., internally from shelter to scattered site) for gaining an accurate sense of the in-flow and out-flow.  Donna Nadeau offered instead to provide us her monthly report that she receives from providers that summarizes # of placements into housing.  Our family providers present also said they could easily provide the # of referrals into shelter. DV providers also agreed to provide their monthly shelter numbers as well (these are not available via DHCD but are crucial in terms of the overall view of family homelessness for the region). CHD will also provide its DHCD front door diversion numbers as well.
The group agreed that it would provide this information at the next family services meeting and we would keep evaluating what it means to acquire meaningful data in order to evaluate our progress.
 
Network “future course” meeting debrief:
The Network hosted a Network-wide meeting on 2/12 to review initial findings based on our consultant’s interviews of roughly 40 people and 25 organizations across the Network.  Click here for summary of findings and recommendations.  The meeting on the 12th provided a chance to further share reflections and recommendations.  Committee members who attended noted that it was a great chance to connect with the wider Network beyond the family services committee (and to register its breadth) and to have a meaningful dialogue towards how best to allocate Network resources.  Pamela reported that this meeting’s input will be utilized at the upcoming Leadership Council meeting on 2/28 where recommendations around future structure and focus will be decided upon.
Homelessness Resource Fair:
We officially launched our planning process for this region-wide Resource Fair which is scheduled to take place on Thursday, June 14, 9 am – 1 pm.  We decided upon the planning task force: Holly Florek, Jane Lindfors, Janna Teatrault, Janette Vigo.  Pamela will be in touch with them to schedule a planning call.  And we will plan to report back an initial outline for the day at our next Family Services Meeting.
Network earmark funding:
Pamela reported that the Network’s earmark of $125K was released and is being allocated equally across both CoC’s to direct financial assistance for youth and rapid re-housing. Stay tuned for an email outlining more detailed allocation of funding and who and how to contact providers to access it.
RAFT: Lauren announced that as of 3/1 there will be $250K in RAFT funding available for individuals (elderly, disabled, unaccompanied youth). Similar funding will be available in Franklin and Berkshire Counties as well. Pamela will send out a reminder notice on this immediately in advance of the 3/1 release date.
Community Action Tax Filing Assistance. Janna reminded everyone that Community Action offers tax filing help (as does Springfield Partners).  Please relay info and urge people to call ASAP to schedule appointments as they are filling up.
Due in 3 weeks.
Next meeting date: Tuesday, 3/13, 1 pm – 2:30 pm.  Kittredge Center, Room 301, Holyoke Community College