Category Archives: Family Services Committee

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

Family Services Meeting – 1/9/18

Family Services Meeting Minutes – 1/9/18
In attendance: Shelly Benoit, BHN, Yoshi Bird, YWCA, Ellen Broadhurst, West Springfield Public Schools, Doris Gonzalez, YWCA, Fran Lemay, Greenfield Family Inn, Heather Marshall, Elizabeth Freeman House, Lisandra Maysonet, YWCA, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Jenni Pothier, Mental Health Association/TPP, Aisha Pizarro, YWCA, Steve Plummer, Springfield Partners for Community Action, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Janette Vigo, Way Finders, Melissa White, Valley Opportunity Council
DHCD Data Review and Discussion:
Thanks to Bill Bartosch and Andrew Pape of DHCD for their assistance in responding to data requests.  Click here for the excel document provided by DHCD is a “work in progress” and allowed for additional brainstorming.  Pamela will report back to Bill and Andrew these follow-up questions:
  • For where families applied (the breakdown among Greenfield, Pittsfield and Springfield), we would like to also understand the town of origin for the families applying (i.e., there may be some discrepancy between where the application is filed and where the family is from).
  • The family transfer number is not useful without more context (transfers within a program are also included in that number). The group is interested in the # of families from Western MA placed out of the region and the number of families from outside of Western MA placed within the region; they would also like to pull out transfers that occurred based on domestic violence.
  • It was noted that the number of active families with DV history had to be wildly underreported (59 was the number drawn from HMIS – out of 600 beds – the group consensus is that this is nowhere close to accurate).  The question was raised about whether it was possible to add to HMIS a question when the family is exiting shelter re: “has the family member experienced DV either before or since the date of entry?” (recognizing that many people may not feel comfortable reporting DV at the initial intake). We discussed the barriers of data entry insofar as “new” DV cannot be captured in HMIS – beyond a “touch point” (aka case note) – without going into the initial assessment and changing the data – this is extremely cumbersome for case workers and contributes to missed reporting.
  • Housing status upon exit: the group would like to add this data set to the monthly template.
At the next meeting, we will hope to have a more formalized template in an easier-to-distribute format.
Puerto Rico evacuees:  We were not able to obtain updated data to share.  We know families are still arriving and FEMA is expiring imminently; it is anticipated that this will place a huge demand on the EA system.  MEMA, DHCD and other state agencies are meeting regularly.
State budget update: Youth funding has been released by the Governor but it’s unclear how it will be distributed (via an RFP?).  RAFT funds for individuals has also been released although it’s not yet at Way Finders.
Network Evaluation project: Pamela provided an update on the consultant working with the Network to help evaluate the best use of the Network going forward. She distributed the interview questions and encouraged everyone to provide their input.   She will send the information electronically as well.  She encouraged people to attend the Network meeting on 2/12, 1-4 pm, Kittredge Center, HCC, to further engage in this effort to help shape the Network going forward.
Coordinated entry discussion with DV and shelter providers: Gerry McCafferty hosted a meeting for the Hampden County CoC DV providers and EA shelter providers to begin to tackle the challenge of connecting both systems to create a coordinated entry process.  The first step is for the DV providers to assess how many of their population meet the criteria for chronically homeless (and therefore eligible for permanent supportive housing).
Homelessness Resource Fair – June 14.  We agreed we would start our planning process for this event at our next meeting in Feb.
Next meeting date: Tuesday, Feb. 13, 9:30-11 am, Northampton Senior Center.
 

Family Services Meeting Minutes – 12/12/17

Family Services Meeting Minutes
12/12/17

In attendance: Christina Aliengena, NEFWC, Shelly Benoit, BHN, Yoshi Bird, YWCA, Cynthia Capella, VA, Christie Cullen, CFCE, Anthia Elliott, Safe Passage, Holly Florek, CHD, Tavar Jones, CCO, Jane Lindfors, DTA/DV unit, Luz Marcano, VA, Luis Martinez, CHD, Michelle Michaelian, BHN, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Aisha Pizarro, YWCA, Johnie Sanders, ARISE, Pamela Schwartz, Network, TJ Steele, Springfield Partners, Janna Tetreault, Community Action, Janette Vigo, Way Finders

Data discussion:
DHCD has welcomed our request to receive monthly data reports on family homelessness  to support our own review and discussion at our meetings.  In addition to the data already provided via the monthly DHCD reports re: # of families entering shelter, the group is interested in the following:

·      How many people request assistance?

·      # of families who have identified DV as reason for homelessness

·      # of families who have identified DV as part of their experience in the last 6 months (a question on the intake form),  to capture underlying reason for homelessness even if  DV is not most recent cause

·      # of families denied due to eligibility for FEMA benefits

·      # of families in Springfield shelters are from out of area

The group also expressed interest in obtaining data from other systems:

·      DPH: how many families turned away from DV shelters due to lack of capacity?

·      ARISE: how many families provided assistance due to denial of EA eligibility

Three County CoC Update:
Janna Tetreault reported that the CoC will be launching its coordinated entry system in January.  Soldier On will have an 800 number to provide referrals across the 3 counties; all providers will be using the same assessment tool to prioritize housing placements and there will be weekly case conferencing meetings to utilize the priority list to match families/individuals with available units.

A question was raised around integrating DV shelters into the coordinated entry process.  While this has been the stated goal, DV providers have not been contacted.  Janna will follow-up about this.

Hampden County CoC Update (via Gerry McCafferty email):
1. For maybe 2 years we have had a semi-reguular meeting–about once a quarter–about chronically homeless families, attendance from Way Finders, NEFW and CHD in attendence. We met a week or so ago and decided at that time to make this a monthly meeting to talk about chronic families–that is, to talk about specific clients and brainstorm solution. We are looking to start in January.  Like we do with adults, these would be families that have been assessed with a VISPDAT and have signed a release allow this inter-agency case conferencing.

2. AHAR. The total number of people in families in emergency shelter during the year has crept up a bit–it was 3679 in FY16 and is 3889 in FY17. A little worrisome–hoping it is not a trend.

3, Last year national PIT data. The federal report is out yesterday on the 2017 PIT: https://www.hudexchange.info/resources/documents/2017-AHAR-Part-1.pdf.  Among small-city CoCs, Springfield/Hampden County is #2 in country for number of homeless people in families with children. Page 41, exhibit 3.10. Neither the state of MA or any other MA CoC is in the lists of highest for this category. Related to this, the Springfield/Hampden CoC is #10 in the country for small cities for total number of people homeless. P. 17, exhibit 1.10.

DV/EA Work Group Update:
The group sent a letter to DHCD and DPH directors regarding proposals to make more smooth the process for DV families to obtain HomeBASE.  (Click here to see the memo).  At the same time, Yoshi heard from Jane Doe – the statewide coalition of DV providers – that they are working on this issue as well and they agreed to be in touch as conversation unfolds.

The group also discussed local process issues that may assist Way Finders and the DV providers  in effectively assisting DV families.  The group will follow-up separately with Janette.

Assistance for families from Puerto Rico:
Pamela distributed DCF’s memo  that details MA resources available fro PR evacuees.  The Family Resource Centers are the points of entry. Holyoke (Enlace de familias) has an amazing system in place – Mon-Fri from 12 pm – 2 pm providers are available to provide assistance. Click here for a list of resource centers.

The end of FEMA benefits on 1/13 was discussed.  It seems inevitable that there will be a significant demand on the shelter system.  Donna noted that DHCD is meeting weekly with others from across the government to map out a response strategy.

We did not have a clear sense of the numbers in Western MA, although estimates were made of 200 families in Holyoke and 250 in Springfield.  Janette Vigo will report back on more data.

Network update: Pamela reported the good news that thanks to DHCD’s support, the Network will have funds to continue its work at least through the end of FY18. Special thanks to Assistant Undersecretary Jane Banks for her facilitation of this support. Thanks, too, to Donna Nadeau for her incredible support of the Network. The Network will continue to look at how it can best serve the region around next year’s re-procurement of the family and individual shelter systems.  Stay tuned for further information on that.

Announcements:
Lots of moves afoot!

  • CHD now at 184 Mill St, Springfield – where we met today.  Thanks to CHD for hosting us!
  • Safe Passage just purchased a new building in Northampton that will allow them to consolidate their 3 offices.
  • Way Finders just purchased the old Peter Pan Bus Terminal which will also allow them to consolidate offices, have more parking and be more centrally located with excellent access to public transportation.  
  • ARISE is moving up the street to 813 State Street – better located, more space.
  • WomanShelter moved recently to new space at 208 Race Street in Holyoke, near Gateway City Arts. 

Next meeting:
Tuesday, Jan 9, 12:30 – 2 pm, HCC, Frost Building 309 (unusual time and place to accommodate various schedules and meeting locations).