Category Archives: Family Services Committee

Family Services Committee Minutes – 9/9/14

Family Services Committee Meeting Minutes
September 9, 2014

In attendance: Luz Alvarado, HAP, Jane Banks, Center for Human Development, Arelia Barrios, Springfield Partners for Community Action, Shannon Barry, Springfield Public Schools, Alvina Brevard, DHCD, Bonnie Caldwell, DHCD, Elizabeth Connor, TPP, Charity Day, FRHRA, Jenni Delmonte, TPP, Anthia Eliott, Safe Passage, Erin Forbush, ServiceNet, Brenda Douglas, Square One, Sean Hemingway, Center for Human Development, Steve Huntley, Valley Opportunity Council, Lisa Lapierre, CPM/Secure Jobs Connect, Fran Lemay, ServiceNet, Jane Lindfors, DTA/DV, Janet Mock, Square One, Jordana O’Connell, Holyoke Public Schools, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Steve Plummer, Springfield Partners, Hilda Santa, Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity, Lourdes Sariol, DHCD, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Sarah Slautterback, DESE, Rachel Trant, DCF, Janette Vigo, HAP

DHCD update: Alvina Brevard, statewide field director, introduced Bonnie Caldwell (formerly of HAP) as new regional director of field operations for Western and Central Mass. Bonnie will provide her contact info to Pamela who will send it out to this list. We welcomed Bonnie to her new position. We are so glad she is there!

Alvina provided approximate numbers of homeless families statewide: Just over 5,000 families in the EA system, 3,000 in shelter; 2,200 in motels. In Western Mass., we have roughly 350 families living in hotels/motels. Alvina expressed her appreciation for all the providers’ tremendous work in the face of tremendous demand.

Alvina noted that approximately 32 families enter the shelter system per day statewide. Approximately 37 families seek EA each day at the Western Mass. office (in Boston, about 50).

DHCD responses: HomeBASE re-housing funds have increased, now offering $8,000 upon exiting shelter/motels ($6,000 at the front door). DHCD has contracted for substantial increase of congregate shelter beds to help move homeless families out of the hotels.

DHCD Undersecretary Gornstein has met with community leaders in Chicopee, Greenfield and West Springfield regarding their high numbers of homeless families in hotels. Some changes are underway, including the assignment of more intensive case management 7 days/week, 2 pm -11 pm.   Contracts are in process with current housing stabilization providers.

Jane Lindfors of DTA/DV unit expressed her desire to be part of the discussion regarding DV issues and how best to respond to DV situations in hotels.

Lourdes Sariol of DHCD noted that we need to look closely at building capacity among neighborhood agencies so necessary support such as job development and child care can be provided to help maintain families’ housing stability and prevent homelessness.

Jordana O’Connell, Holyoke public school homelessness liaison, expressed the need for more support at the Holyoke hotels. They are in need of greater case management support.

Charity Day of Franklin Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority shared that there are now 84 homeless families living in 2 hotels in Greenfield. ServiceNet (via Fran Lemay) will be providing some intensive case management support.

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Family Services Meeting Minutes – 5/13/14

Family Services Committee
May 13, 2014

 In attendance: Shannon Barry, Springfield Public Schools, Melissa Brown, YWCA of Western Mass., Cris Carl, Family Inn, Greenfield, Charity Day, Franklin County Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority, Ken Demers, New England Farm Workers Council, Brenda Douglas, Square One, Anthia Elliott, Safe Passage, Faith Lafayette, FOR Families, Janet Mock, Square One, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Jordana O’Connell, Holyoke Public Schools, Shannon Mumblo, Christina’s House, Maria Perez, New North Community Council, Shannon Porter, HAPHousing, Hilda Santa, Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity, Steve Plummer, Springfield Partners for Community Action,

Report out on HAPHousing “summit” on family homelessness (Ken Demers and Shannon Porter): As part of its strategic planning process, HAP convened a meeting of shelter providers, advocates, researchers, state agency representatives, and the Network, to discuss strategies and direction around family homelessness. Discussion focused significantly on trauma-based care, and the impact of this approach and staff relationships (and staff care) on achieving stabilization.   The role of collaboration among partners and sharing resources were also featured prominently. There was general agreement that shelter is shifting more towards a transitional housing model so that support services are built into the system. These supports are key to moving out of shelter into permanent housing.

Christina’s House, new transitional housing for homeless women and children: Shannon Mumblo, director of Christina’s House, attended her first family services meeting to share information about a newly created transitional housing resource in Springfield. The home, just recently renovated and preparing to officially open in the next month, will provide housing to homeless or at-risk women with children. It is a faith-based non-profit organization that has raised its funding entirely through private fundraising. The home will offer multiple services, including access to child care, employment and training, mental health treatment and personal mentors. The typical stay will be 2 years, although flexible to go longer if appropriate. It is not referral based but encourages interested women to contact the organization directly. Eligibility criteria includes: (1) must have custody of the children (DCF involvement does not disqualify), legal US resident; not in a current domestic violence relationship; not currently using drugs or alcohol; faith-oriented and willing to participate in religious study (it is a Christian organization but all faiths are welcome); 30% of person’s income is the program fee. For more information, contact Shannon Mumblo at info@christinashouse.org or 413-297-5552.

State FY 15 Budget Update:

Senate Ways and Means about to release its budget. Will provide updates to committee as soon as available.

Discussed the House budget cut to HCEC (Housing Consumer Education) of $900,000, which will dramatically impact the regional housing authorities’ capacity to administer the RAFT program (since it relies on HCEC funding to do so).  Hopeful that the Senate budget will restore the program to level funding.

Discussed policy issue of expanding EA eligibility to families at imminent risk of homelessness. The amendment being sought by MLRI and Mass. Coalition for the Homeless (which the Network supports) did not make it into the House Budget. Waiting to hear on Senate. Meanwhile, Rose Evans, director of Housing Stabilization for DHCD, called Pamela to ask if the committee would like to have a conference call on the issue of EA presumptive eligibility (one of the means for ensuring no family is placed in an unsafe situation). All agreed we would like to move forward on this; Pamela will follow-up with Rose and let the committee know of the call date and time. Continue reading

Family Services Committee Minutes – 4/8; next meeting 5/13

Family Services Committee Meeting
April 8, 2014

In attendance:  Shannon Barry, Springfield Public Schools, Cris Carl, Family Inn/ServiceNet, Bonnie Caldwell, HAPHousing, Ken Demers, New England Farm Workers Council, Anthia Elliott, Safe Passage, Erin Forbush, ServiceNet – Berkshires, Faith Lafayette, DPH FOR Families, Jane Lindfors, DTA-DV unit, Lynn Minella, WomanShelter Companeras, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Jordana O’connell, Holyoke Public Schools, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Sarah Slautterback, DESE, Stephen Plummer, Springfield Partners for Community Action, Hilda Santa, Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity, Lauren Voyer, HAPHousing

Update on meeting with Alvina Brevard, DHCD Field Director, to discuss presumptive eligibility policies and procedures:

Per our last family services meeting charge, Pamela reached out to Alvina Brevard to discuss presumptive eligibility.  Alvina was immediately responsive and a meeting took place on 3/31/14 with Alvina of DHCD, Carmen Roman of DCF, Faith Lafayette of FOR Families and the region’s shelter providers.  It was agreed that DHCD should prioritize developing a system for communicating a family’s presumptive placement to providers to prevent against unanticipated terminations (due to failure to complete paperwork, e.g.)

Donna Nadeau of DHCD suggested that the change take place within the ETO system so that the central office could record presumptively placed at the time of placement and all providers could gain immediate access to this information.  Pamela will email Alvina, updating her on this conversation and bringing Donna into the loop.

We also discussed the role of presumptive placement as a way of protecting against families sleeping in places not fit for human habitation.  Both at the meeting with Alvina and our meeting today, providers shared that they have not encountered families in a position where they have been denied EA in the face of sleeping in unsafe places.  Alvina stressed that she always wants to be called if providers are seeing families in this situation.

Donna also announced that next year’s budget proposes to invest more dollars into congregate shelter with the recognition that this is necessary to move families out of motels into more supportive settings.

Everyone expressed support for this move, also recognizing the challenge of start-up costs (rehab) and the challenge of finding the units.  But providers are on board for implementation.

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Family Services Committee Minutes – 3/11/14; next meeting 4/8

Family Services Committee Meeting Minutes
March 11, 2014

 In attendance:  Shannon Barry, Springfield Public Schools, Brenda Barcome, YWCA/New Beginnings, Cris Carl, ServiceNet/Greenfield Family Inn, Jenni Delmonte, Tenancy Preservation Project, Ken Demers, New England Farm Workers Council, Brenda Douglas, Square One, Michelle Geoffroy, Wendy Kane, Community Legal Aid, Faith Lafayette, FORFamilies, Lisa Lapierre, CPM, Secure Jobs Connect, Jane Lindfors, DTA/DV, Jordana O’Connell, Holyoke Public Schools, Maria Perez, HOPWA, Steve Plummer, Springfield Partners, Shannon Porter, HAPHousing, Lourdes Sariol, DHCD, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Robin Sherman, Franklin County Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority

Point in Time Count (conducted 1/29, across the entire region via our 2 CoC’s, Hampden County and Three County) Preliminary report distributed.  Click here.  More detailed analyses to come, especially re: homeless families once the CoC’s have integrated HMIS data into findings.

Network’s legislative priorities for Fiscal Year 2015.  Pamela distributed the priorities as decided by the Network’s Leadership Council.  The Network adopted the Committee’s recommendation to amend the EA language to allow families within 24 hours of staying in placed unfit for human habitation to be eligible for shelter.  Click here to review.

Network Strategic Planning Update:  Pamela updated the committee on the Network’s strategic planning process and the decision to incorporate the federal “Opening Doors” plan to prevent and end homelessness as the basis for its regional efforts.  Stay tuned for further definition and details on implementation.  Click here for overview of the Plan’s goals, specifically the first 2 objectives pertaining to leadership on collaboration and building the knowledge capacity, as they pertain to the Network’s mission. Continue reading