Category Archives: Family Services Committee

Family Services Meeting Minute – 12/9/14

Family Services Meeting Committee Minutes
December 9, 2014

In attendance: Shannon Barry, Springfield Public Schools, Toni Bator, HAPHousing, Kathryn Buckley-Brawner, Catholic Charities, Bonnie Caldwell, DHCD, Jamie Chazan, Valley Opportunity Council, Sarah Cloutier, YWCA, Charity Day, Franklin County Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority, Harry Duchesne, New England Farm Workers Council, Brenda Douglas, Square One ,Jill Fijal, Chicopee Public Schools, Donna Harris, Franklin Hampshire Career Center, Sean Hemingway, Center for Human Development, Faith Lafayette, DPH FOR Families, Jane Lindfors, DTA DV unit, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Janet Mock, Square One, jordana O’Connell, Holyoke Public Schoos, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Steve Plummer, Springfield Partners, Liza Rios, YWCA, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Lauren Voyer, HAPHousing

DHCD Update (Bonnie Caldwell):

Families in hotels: 1,720 statewide, continuing to decline. For Western Mass., we are down from 500 to 345 families living in hotels. This decline Is due to a number of factors: increased diversion at the front door; increased shelter capacity statewide, allowing families to back to their communities of origin.

Additional support staff in hotels is making a difference. Great coordination among all providers – HAPHousing, CHD, NEFWC, ServiceNet.

Diversion from shelter at DHCD’s front door is up from 5 per cent to 15 per cent. This is due to the placement of 2 full-time CHD staff in the DHCD office. The staff are fantastic at what they do and the model of being AT the DHCD office works.

Towards the Network goal of becoming more data-driven in our outcomes, we discussed the utility of establishing a standard DHCD template of informative data to review each month.   We brainstormed this possible list of monthly data:

# of shelter entries/denials (by DHCD office)
# diverted (by DHCD office)
# of families experiencing domestic violence
# of exits from shelters and hotels
#s of families re-entering shelter
# of families out of community of origin

Bonnie will bring this back to DHCD and report back about what is available at our next meeting.

New Family Permanent Supportive Housing Available

Valley Opportunity Council announced that they are now taking referrals for their new scattered site PSH for chronically homeless families. 8 units available for 20 people total, including 4 disabled adults over age 24, 4 disabled adults between 18 and 24 and 12 unaccompanied non-disabled children under the age of 18. Families must meet a minimum score on the family VI-SPDAT (assessment tool). A ½ time case manager will be available for support services.

Click here for more information, or contact Jamie Chazan at VOC at jchazan@valleyopp.com, 413-552-1554 ext. 701. Continue reading

Referral/Contact Resource; Family Services Minutes – 11/18

First, I wanted to pass along a housing and referral contact list  for housing and motel staff providers in the region that Andrew Morehouse, Network co-chair and executive director of the Food Bank of Western MA, compiled for use across the food bank network.  Please find it attached and please feel free to distribute to any of your networks.  Thank you, Andrew!

Family Services Committee Meeting
November 18, 2014

In attendance: Jane Banks, CHD, Toni Bator, HAPHousing, Bonnie Caldwell, DHCD, Cris Carl, ServiceNet Greenfield, Charity Day, FCRHA, Anthia Elliott, Safe Passage, Erin Forbush, ServiceNet Pittsfield, Donna Harris, Franklin Hampshire Career Center, Sean Hemingway, CHD, Steve Huntley, VOC, Wendy Kane, Community Legal Aid, Fran Lemay, ServiceNet Greenfield, Betty Medina Lichtenstein, Enlace, Jane Lindfors, DTA DV Unit, Yajaira Marquez, Head Start, Heather Marshall, Elizabeth Freeman Center, Maritza Martinez, Head Start, Jordana O’Connell, Holyoke Public Schools, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Gil Reynders, Salvation Army, Liza Rios, YWCA, Hilda Santa, Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Rachel Trant, DCF

DHCD Update

Motel numbers are seeing some decline, down to 1,779 as of yesterday. Families living in Greenfield motels have been moved back to their communities of origin.

DHCD just issued notice of a proposed regulatory change to equalize treatment of shelter and motel families (basis of MLRI lawsuit) under non-compliance policy so that all families will be deemed in non-compliance after 3 infractions (prior policy allowed 6 infractions for families in shelter; 2 infractions for families in motels). Settlement negotiations have been ongoing for 7 months without resolution. DHCD is now proposing this change. Pamela will forward hearing notice and details on process.

Provider Updates

CHD (Jane Banks): providing support staff at Holyoke Hotel and Days Inn (Holyoke) and Howard Johnson’s in Springfield. Providing transportation to food, doctor’s appointments, other support services. 6 staff present, 8 am to 9 pm. Manager reports are very positive. NEFWC is there to do housing placement work.

Expanding shelter capacity by 125 beds.

Also working at the front door of DHCD and seeing a 56% diversion rate. Great progress and looks forward to more.

HAPHousing (Toni Bator) – providing support staff in EconoLodge and Quality Inn Chicopee – in the process of hiring 4 full time and 4 part-time staff. Currently borrowing from other staff to provide coverage from 1 pm – 9 pm on weekdays and 5-9 pm on weekends.

Expanding shelter capacity by 100 beds.

Discussed recent issue of Springfield postmaster refusing to deliver mail to homeless families (quoted as saying such). This is stunning! Toni said MLRI is involved. Pamela will inquire further to determine if the Network can provide any additional support. We agreed we needed to learn more about current mail practices but noted that families have been receiving mail at shelters and motels without incident until now.

ServiceNet (Fran Lemay, Greenfield): providing support staff at the Days Inn and Quality Inn. Have several staff and currently hire one more. Coverage at the hotels from noon -8 pm, 7 days/week. Has office space at both hotels, which is working very well. About 80 families in both hotels. Roughly ½ from the Eastern part of the state.

Expanding shelter capacity by 15 families in Greenfield (possibly Orange and Turners Falls), 7 in Pittsfield

Continue reading

Family Services Committee Meeting Minutes – 10/14/14

Family Services Committee Meeting Minutes
October 14, 2014

In attendance: Jane Banks, Center for Human Development, Ashley Brehm, HAPHousing, Melissa Brown, YWCA, Bonnie Caldwell, DHCD, Cris Carl, ServiceNet, Claudia Catalano, DPH, Susan Colwell, DCF, Pat Duffy, Rep. Vega’s office, Harry Duchesne, New England Farm Workers Council, Anthia Elliott, Safe Passage, Rose Evans, DHCD, John Fister, HAPHousing, Julia Guazzo, CFCE, Eryka Haase, Tenancy Preservation Proejct, Flo Haves, EEC, Donna Harris, Franklin Hampshire Career Center, Steve Huntley, Valley Opportunity Council, Faith Lafayette, DPH – FOR Families, Lisa Lapierre, Secure Jobs (CPM), Fran Lemay, ServiceNet, Jane Lindfors, DTA DV Unit, Ses Lopez, CareerPoint/SJC, Ashley Mann, New Lease, Melissa Mateus, Springfield Partners, Heather Marshall, Elizabeth Freeman Center, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Janet Mock, Square One, Darlene Morse, CareerPoint/SJC, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Halie Nicolosi, Harvard Catalyst, Jordana O’Connell, Holyoke Public Schools, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Tom Pilcik, New Lease, Dorothy Pink, Valley Opportunity Council/WIC, Steve Plummer, Springfield Partners, Liza Rios, YWCA,  Hilda Santa, Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Robin Sherman, Franklin County Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority, Sarah Slautterback, DESE, Rachel Trant, DCF, Holyoke State Representative Aaron Vega, Janette Vigo, HAPHousing, Lauren Voyer, HAPHousing, Abigail Williams, Harvard Catalyst, Phyllis White, Franklin Hampshire Career Center, Alicia Zoeller, Holyoke Community Development

Pamela welcomed special guests Representative Aaron Vegan, Rose Evans, DHCD Associate Director of Division of Housing Stabilization and Abigail Williams of Harvard Catalyst.

General update from Rose Evans, DHCD Associate Director of Division of Housing Stabilization:

Rose noted FY2014 highlights: 1,000 new households with MRVP subsidies; expansion of state investment in Secure Jobs statewide by $1.5 million; funding for 3,000 units of Permanent Supportive Housing through Housing Stabilization Trust Fund; increase of Household Assistance from $4K to $6K (continuing initiative into FY 2015). The Commonwealth reached a milestone of producing over 20,000 units since 2007.

Regarding shelter capacity: The Commonwealth expanded capacity in FY14, ending the year with an increase of over 700 beds. This effort continues into FY15 as the demand for shelter increases. Shelter capacity will increase by an additional 800 beds in FY15 with 200-300 in Western Mass.

The shelter system has not been “resized” since 2009. An increase in shelter beds is the most appropriate course in view of the continued demand and the desire to decrease reliance on motels and provide more comprehensive services to families.

The FY15 budget includes an increase in Household Assistance upon exiting shelter from $6K to $8K. This has enhanced families’ capacity to become rehoused.

Rose noted the New Lease program. Tom Pilchik, the director, shared that thus far it has moved 65 families out of shelter into apartments. Very exciting initiative.

Rose also noted that DHCD has started case management services at selected hotels (where there are high numbers of families or in remote locations).   DHCD also hired for a new staff position, Felisha Bennett, to oversee operations and to supervise 3 transitional specialists (Juanita Diaz In the Western Mass office).

Rose also noted the FY15 change in MRVP language so that MRVPs are now blind to EA eligibility. Families living in motels and shelter will not have a priority. DHCD is moving to a statewide wait list for MRVPs. This will take time to implement but the process is underway. Meanwhile, housing authorities have released frozen MRVPs and regional housing authorities have been issued new MRVP’s.

Rose provided a breakdown of the 450 families currently living in motels in Western Mass:
242 from Hampshire, Hampden and Franklin Counties
10 Greenfield
39 Holyoke
133 Springfield
22 Chicopee
Other 50% not from W. Mass. DHCD is working very hard to relocate families back to their communities of origin but they have faced the additional challenge of several “extended stay” hotels in Boston area discontinuing business with the Commonwealth. This has resulted in the loss of 233 shelter beds.

Gerry McCafferty posed the question of whether DHCD is considering use of a screening tool (similar to VI-SPDAT that is being implemented for homeless individuals) to prioritize housing resources?

Rose offered that DHCD can get to certain indicators through HUD assessments; can “drill down” based on certain critiera. She will look into that. Continue reading

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.

Continue reading