Category Archives: Family Services Committee

Family Services Committee Meeting Minutes – 4/11/16

Family Services Committee Meeting Minutes
April 11, 2016

In attendance: Yoshi Bird, CHD, Bonnie Caldwell, DHCD, Wendy Coco, CCA, Hillary Cronin, VAMC, Anthia Elliott, Safe Passage, Erin Forbush, ServiceNet (Berkshires), Sean Hemingway, CHD, Jamal Jacobs, Community Action, Cheryl LaChance, HAP, Fran Lemay, ServiceNet (Greenfield), Heather Marshall, Elizabeth Freemen Center, Cris Merrill, CHD, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Steve Plummer, Springfield Partners for Community Action, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Janette Vigo, HAP, Lauren Voyer, HAP

Family Homelessness Data Review
Special thanks to Deputy Undersecretary Rose Evans who provided this summary data:

EA Caseload:

  • Hotels/Motels
    601 as of Friday April 8, 2016 – 56% reduction from same time last year, 62% reduction since January 2015; lower than when the system came over from DTA in 2009
  • State Contracted Beds:
    3279 as of Friday April 8, 2016
  • Statewide Caseload: 3880 as of Friday April 8, 2016 – 14% reduction since January 2015

Diversion: As of March 2016: 25% Diversion for the month of March2016

HomeBASE: All numbers are as of February 29, 2016

  • 1445 exits from shelter with HomeBASE (49%)
  • 521 exits from hotels/motels with HomeBASE (18%)
  • 980 families diverted with HomeBASE (33%)
  • Western MA specifically – 368 families have utilized HomeBASE; 253 exits from shelter; 47 exits from hotels/motels; 68 diversions

Lauren Voyer announced that only 29 families remain in motels in Hampden CountyFran Lemay announced that only 3 families in remain in motels in Franklin County

Congratulations on the tremendous work across the region, and thanks to DHCD’s support to make it possible. We agreed we will plan a little celebration to mark this progress.

Bassuk Center Report: Services Matter: How Housing and Services Can End Family Homelessness

 Thanks to Lauren Voyer’s initiative, HAPHousing hosted a forum that featured the Bassuk Center’s recently released report on family homelessness and specifically focused on the importance of combined housing and support services in making a lasting difference.

The report is available at

 The report emphasizes the critical importance of trauma-informed care in the provision of services. We discussed the Network’s recent sponsorship of a very successful training on Trauma Informed Care (by T3, Center for Social Innovation) and our desire to focus on this approach and embed it in an entire organization’s staff (the forum stressed the importance of a whole organizational embrace of this approach for it to be effective).

We discussed and shared the Bassuk Center’s tools such as the “TICometer” – an in-house tool to take stock of an organization’s use of trauma informed care. More detail is available at:

And we discussed the Center’s assessment tool check list – available at:

We agreed that at our next meeting we will look at that check list in relation to the HUD assessment tool that must be done when a family enters the front door. Lauren and Janette will prepare to facilitate the conversation.

The Bassuk Center is also asking organizations to sign on as supporters of this report. Everyone is encouraged to bring this back to their organizations and consider signing on. The sign-on link can be found on the bottom of the main page of the report.

We agreed to use our meetings to further the study of this shift to a trauma informed care approach and use the committee to support the effort.

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Family Services Committee Meeting Minutes – 3/9/16

Family Services Meeting
March 9, 2016

In attendance: Jesus Arce, City of Springfield, Jane Banks, CHD, Yoshi Bird, CHD, Bonnie Caldwell, DHCD, Hilary Cronin, VA, Anthia Elliott, Safe Passage, Erin Forbush, ServiceNet, Jane Lindfors, DTA/DV unit, Luz Marcano, VA, Liza Rios, YWCA, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Tj Steele, Network Partners, Janette Vigo, HAPHousing, Lauren Voyer, HAPHousing

March 4 Progress Report Event Debrief:

Everyone agreed that the personal stories from people who experienced the journey from homelessness to housing defined the event and its powerful impact. We discussed the balance of even more stories within the whole of the program and the desire to have a youth speaker as well. Pamela explained that youth providers conducted outreach but that speaking in front of so many people was a difficult challenge for them. Lisa Goldsmith suggested the possibility of a video with more time to prepare and we all agreed that this was something to consider next year for integrating more stories in general.

Hampden County Family Point in Time Count 2016: Gerry provided a draft analysis of the Hampden County’s Family PIT 2016 which can be found here. Once the data is finalized, this report and all reports will be posted on the Network blog.

The group discussed the disproportionate number of homeless families in Springfield.  It was pointed out that this is largely because most of the families are in fact from Springfield and also because of the significant reduction of the use of motels in Holyoke and Chicopee.

Information was requested about the breakdown of shelter units among co-shelter, scattered site and congregate. Lauren Voyer said she could get that for our next meeting.

The group discussed the referral of any veteran families in shelter to veterans services and confirmed the current practice in shelters of assessing veteran status upon entry and referring as appropriate.

Lauren Voyer of HAP shared about DHCD’s monthly visits to assist with meeting the barriers of hard-to-house families (larger numbers or other issues) in helping them move from motels to congregate shelters (or housing). This targeted effort is showing success.

Yoshi Bird of CHD shared about its extremely successful diversion program (diverting 36% at the front door of shelter). They have adopted a “business model approach” where they devise a detailed budget for the family to demonstrate to prospective landlords what it will take for them to pay their full rent in a timely fashion and then negotiate with the landlord to adjust the rent accordingly. The budget includes a savings plan. They are finding tremendous success with this approach as it gives landlords the security they need and empowers the tenants. This model is being shared across the state.

Permanent Supportive Housing update:
CHD reported that of the 10 PSH units, 4 have been filled to date but they are currently working with families that would fill every remaining unit. There are 34 families on the chronically homeless list.

VOC was not able to attend but they have 8 PSH units as well and are participating in the coordinated entry list.

Berkshire Update:
Erin Forbush of ServiceNet provided an update on Berkshire families (6 beds at Our Friend’s House in Pittsfield; 12 additional beds through shelter expansion, 2 scattered site, the remainder co-shelter units). She is seeing an increasing number of families who are seeking shelter but found ineligible for EA. They only have 2 “community beds” so they are now holding a wait list for them.

Upcoming trainings:

There are a number of upcoming trainings regarding employment (our Network series), Rapid Rehousing, on the CORI law, NE Fair Housoing and Civil Rights Conference and the Network’s Trauma Informed Care and Critical Time Intervention trainings. Pamela will send a separate email that contains all the links to the current offerings.

HAPHousing has a new allocation of RAFT funds for Hampden and Hampshire County families available through the end of the year. Contact HAP for more information.

Next meeting dates:
Due to our employment training on April 12 and hosting John Rio from AHP that day, we agreed to reschedule our family services meeting to Monday, April 11, 1-2:30 pm at CHD.

Due to a conflict for Pamela for the usual May 10 morning time, we will meet on our regular date, Tuesday, May 10 in Northampton but at 1:00-2:30 pm (not our usual morning time).

Re: the upcoming DV/family homelessness meeting with Rose Evans and Robyn Kennedy on Wed., 3/16, 11 am at CHD: Jane Banks has generously offered to provide lunch. Needs a head count. Pamela will send out a reminder notice to all to RSVP.

Family Services Meeting Minutes – 2/9/16

Family Services Meeting Minutes
February 9, 2016

In attendance: Liz Bewsee, Arise for Social Justice, Lisa Darga, Arise for Social Justice, Brittany Gordon, YWCA, Sean Hemingway, CHD, Jenise Katalina, Square One, Cheryl LaChance, HAP, Faith Lafayette, FOR Families, Fran Lemay, ServiceNet, Jane Lindfors, DTA/DV unit, Luz Marcano, VA HUD/VASH, Heather Marshall, Elizabeth Freeman Center, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Jenni Pothier, Tenancy Preservation Project, Evelyn Rivera, Womanshelter, Hilda Santa, Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Rachel Trant, DCF, Janette Vigo, HAP

Point in Time Update: The HUD mandated annual homeless Point in Time count took place on 1/27. We are still awaiting data from the state (on shelter and motel families) to report out on the family homelessness count. Please stay tuned.

Update on DV/Homelessness meeting: Due to winter weather conditions, our meeting with State officials initially scheduled for 2/8 had to be canceled. The reschedule date is: Wed., 3/16, 11 am at CHD, 51 Capital Drive, West Springfield.

EOHHS RFR Update: Pamela reported on the submission of 2 applications from the Western region in response to the EOHHS RFR to create coordinated entry systems to support homelessness prevention efforts for all populations and an additional targeted system and resources for unaccompanied homeless youth.   The two applicants are the City of Springfield – on behalf of the Hampden County CoC – and Community Action – in partnership with the Three County CoC. The region collaborated in the decision to submit two applications in recognition of the geographic and demographic expanse and what is required to truly create “no wrong door.” Each application submitted over 70 support letters, including many of which were joint letters for each application (from 15 legislators, state agencies and other regional organizations), reflecting the collaboration within the region. There will be 3-5 grants statewide, allocating $900,000 for the coordinated entry system and $2m for youth. Decisions will be made by March 1.

HUD TA on workforce development: Through our Secure Jobs work (and the national jobs summit we participated in in 2013), we have been offered Technical Assistance to support our efforts. We are working with John Rio of Advocates for Human Potential (AHP). Planning discussions are underway, including the Secure Jobs program and both CoC’s. We are currently looking at the dates of 4/12-4/13 for 3 workshops, which will include:

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Springfield/Hampden County Funding Opportunities for Homeless Service Providers

There are several open funding opportunities for Springfield-Hampden County providers, as described below.

Opportunities Related to the EOHHS RFR

The Springfield-Hampden County Continuum of Care, through its fiscal agency the City of Springfield, has released two Requests for Proposals, seeking organizations to carry out homelessness prevention/rapid rehousing activities. The CoC’s funding of these activities is contingent on the CoC being awarded funds in response to its application to the Commonwealth’s recent RFR. The CoC RFPs were released Feb. 8, 2016, and responses are due back to the City of Springfield Office of Procurement March 4, 2016 by 2 pm.

  1. Administration of Flexible Funds for Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Rehousing  The CoC seeks one to three experienced agencies to administer flexible funds for homelessness prevention and rapid rehousing. The agencies will serve as a pass-through for these funds, and there is no funding available for staff. Agencies will receive 5% of funds awarded for administrative costs related to administration of the program, Agencies must have a plan to cover/provide intake for the flexible funds in Chicopee, Holyoke, Westfield and Springfield, as well as for victims of domestic violence–this can be done through partnerships with other agencies that will serve as Intake Agencies.
  2. Homeless Youth Initiative The CoC seeks one to three experienced agencies to operate housing stabilization, homelessness diversion and rapid rehousing for youth aged 18-24. The specific activities the CoC seeks are: employment of a Youth Stabilization Specialist; administration of flexible funds to prevent youth homelessness; operation of a Kinship Care program; employment of a Youth Rehousing Specialist, and operation of a rapid rehousing program for youth.

Springfield Emergency Solutions Grant Program

The City of Springfield has released a Request for Proposals seeking providers to operate activities under the federal Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) program. Eligible activities include homelessness prevention, rapid rehousing, outreach services and operating support for existing emergency shelter. ESG funds are provided to the City to serve Springfield residents. This RFP was released February 1, 2016 and responses are due back to the Office of Housing, 1600 E. Columbus Ave., Springfield, on March 1, 2016 by noon. The RFP may be picked up in the City of Springfield Office of Housing, or may be obtained by email by a request to Gerry McCafferty.