Category Archives: Meeting Minutes

Domestic Violence/Emergency Assistance Work Group Meeting Minutes – 9/6/17

DV/EA Working Group
Meeting Minutes – 9/6/17
In attendance:  Yoshi Bird, YWCA, Anthia Elliott, Safe Passage, Jane Lindfors, DTA/DV unit, Heather Marshall, Elizabeth Freeman Center, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield/Hampden County CoC, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Tonya Sparks, WomanShelter
Major issues identified:
  • Releases!  How do we do the work of coordinated entry and protect confidentiality? Gerry will reach out to a HUD TA person who is designated to addresses these challenges.
  • Three County CoC: how is it addressing DV needs in its mix of funded housing solutions? Heather will raise this at its next board meeting (in Oct.); Anthia will consider attending or reaching our directly to Dave.
  • DV access to HomeBASE: why has no family accessed this resource? Is it the quid pro quo of a DHCD requirement for a DV shelter to allocate a bed to an EA family suffering DV in exchange for a DV family receiving HomeBASE? Is it too stringent income eligibility requirements? Is it concern for setting up a family for the “cliff effect” when benefit is gone? We agreed we needed to separate out the policy limitations around the benefit (the cliff effect) from the administrative barriers to accessing the benefit.  We think there is a communication gap between the leadership at DHCD/DPH and the case managers/administrators of the program.  More to understand there.
  • Must address INDIVIDUALS’ access to DV resources
  • Must address DHCD system gap in failing to adequately capture DV as the truly originating reason for becoming homeless
On the draft workplan reviewed at the meeting:
On Goals (as written in this current draft):
  • On second and third “indicators” of first goal of “improve access” we need to define what it means to successfully refer and how to measure it (perhaps these two indicators will be conflated and then fleshed out through strategies)
  • Goals of “integrate DV providers in the coordinated entry effort” and “increase collaboration between DV and EA providers” should be shifted to “strategies” to achieve the goal of “improve access to resources for DV survivors”
  • Other strategies for “improve access” include resolving the release of information challenge and gaining clarity on (3 County) CoC allocation of resources in relation to DV needs
  • Add a goal that pertains to increasing access to DV services for individuals
  • On data collection goal, add outcomes: CoC will provide data it already collects on individuals and DV (HUD requires the question on its intake); and improve accuracy of data collected (possible strategy: DV providers train non-DV providers on info collection)
  • On data collection, add ascertaining more accurate number of EA families in the system due to DV (unclear on strategies)
On Action Plans:  we agreed that the format would change so the document is one work plan with each goal containing a breakdown of strategies, indicators, outcomes – and all the columns will still fit on one page!
Next meeting date: October 3, 3:30-5:00 pm, Northampton Senior Center

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting Minutes – 8/8/17

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting
August 8, 2017

In attendance:  Yoshi Bird, YWCA, Anna Cruz, TiLP program (CHD), Serena Daye, Rapid re-housing, Emily English, Gandara Center, Rosemary Fiedler, HCC (Thrive), Lisa Goldsmith, DIAL/SELF, Sharon Hall-Smith, Gandara Center, Natalie Hill, Gandara Center, Sarah Hills, Eliot CHS Homeless Services, Natalie Kyles, Gandara Center, Jacqueline Lozada, RVCC/Holyoke SSYI, Kim Majewski, Gandara Center, Rebecca Muller, Grantworks, Kathie Robies, RVCC/HSSYI, Jean Rogers, CHD, Pamela Schwartz, Network

Overview of purpose/goal of subcommittee:
Rebecca provided an overview of HUD’s new youth funding competition, and the Hampden County CoC’s process to complete a competitive application.  The CoC is receiving HUD funded Technical Assistance in support of the application.  The CoC applied last year and did very well (so as to earn the TA) but not quite well enough to be funded.  Certain weaknesses were identified in the areas of youth engagement and cross-sharing of data among state and other agencies.  The Network Youth Committee will provide the umbrella for this application process.
We welcomed two young people, Anna and Serena, who attended the meeting for the first time and welcomed their feedback around factors that could increase youth engagement.  Together we brainstormed:
  • ease of transportation
  • food
  • active engagement and recruitment – what is this, why become involved
  • use of an anonymous survey to collect background info and feedback around this meeting
Review of Hampden County data (Click here)
The group reviewed a summary of findings around youth homelessness in Hampden County.  Please see attachment.  We also reviewed the research that outlined the primary causes of youth homelessness:
  • Family instability
  • System involvement
  • Residential instability
  • Extreme disconnection from education, employment and support networks
And the youth sub-populations more frequently impacted by homelessness:
  • LGBTQ youth
  • Justice System Involved Youth
  • Child Welfare System involved youth
  • Sex Trafficked Youth
  • Immigrant and Refugee Youth
Gerry noted that parenting youth is also a significant sub-population in our region (106 parenting youth in last year’s Point in Time count), and is a factor in causing homelessness.
The group also briefly reviewed a summary of Gandara’s SHINE youth program findings (click here).
Next steps:
  • Anna will work with Serena to develop a survey for youth that would be utilized as part of an engagement strategy for this committee; she will relay to Jean at CHD and then Jean to Pamela for continued discussion within the committee in advance of the next meeting
  • Gerry will reach out to DCF and DYS to recruit representative attendance at their next meeting (Lisa suggested searching out the adolescent outreach staff at DCF)
Next meeting date:
Wednesday, 9/13, 4-5:30 pm, HCC, subject to Rosemary’s space inquiry.
Thanks to Jackie and Kathie for the use of their meeting space today.

Individual Services Meeting Minutes – 8/3/17

Individual Services Meeting
August 3, 2017

In attendance:  Jesus Arce, City of Springfield, Beth Barbra, Veterans Inc, Sam Cunningham, ServiceNet, Jen Glover, Life Path, Lauren Jubb, Craig’s Doors, Peg Keller, City of Northampton, Charlie Knight, SCARF/Rainville, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS, Jade Lovett, Craig’s Doors, Jen Lucca, Samaratin Inn, Kim Majewski, Gandara Center, Pamela Schwartz, Network

Three County Update:
Jay Levy reported that the planning for coordinated entry continues with steady progress:
  • The assessment tool is determined (AZ Matrix Tool) and being incorporated across the region
  • ServiceNet will either expand or launch monthly meetings in Pittsfield, Northampton and Greenfield for all regional providers to attend and discuss housing match/case management issues
  • REACH meetings will also continue with a focus on system implementation and opportunities to assist harder-to-serve individuals
  • Soldier On – with CoC funding – is preparing to launch an 800 number that will be a direct referral line for shelter services and an access point to the coordinated entry system
  • January is the target date for a full roll-out of the coordinated system
The group discussed the use of the Network meetings in the context of this work and agreed that it would be appropriate, similar to Hampden County’s approach, to use the Network as a vehicle for bigger picture data review on progress being made.  Jay will discuss with Dave how to implement a system for reporting out on a monthly basis.  Jay suggested it would be useful to get data on 3 sub-populations: chronic, veterans and youth.
Hampden County Update:
Gerry sent her regrets but offered the following updates:
  • Performance Review Data for the last 2 years in preparation for the upcoming HUD competition. Jay noted that the increased numbers in the unsheltered count was due to the more extensive outreach and better identification of the population.
  • The Hampden County CoC RFP for the HUD competition has been released.
  • Gerry is attending a meeting with Holyoke Mayor Morse and others in the City of Holyoke to discuss street homelessness in Holyoke.  She will keep us posted.
Shelter Updates:
Grove Street: Sam reported it is full and the Resource Center has increasing numbers visiting it daily.
Craig’s Doors: Jade provided summary data from its 2016-2017 season:
  • Police and EMT calls were markedly down from the previous year (in police calls a decrease from 99 calls in previous years to 42 calls this year: for EMT calls from 42 to 26 calls), a great indicator of both the increased staff training and the improved relations between the shelter and emergency services.
  • 155 guests throughout season (30 fewer as compared to last season)
  • 20% were chronically homeless; 23% physically disabled; 49% with mental health issues; 21% reported substance use issues
  • 9 youth, 8 people over the age of 62, 15 people between 55 and 61
  • 7 veterans
  • average of about 5 women per night (only 6 beds for women so regularly turned away women)
  • In general, 2-3 turn-aways each night
Two shelter managers for this coming season are returning staff, which is great for continuity and overall capacity.
Jade also reported on the newly opened Resource Center in Amherst; very excited about this day-time resource for shelter guests.
Peg noted the fantastic progress in relationship building with the Town of Amherst and the sharing of information and collaboration that is taking place between Craig’s Doors and Northampton’s shelters.  We all shared in the congratulations for the great work.
FY18 State Budget Update:
Pamela reported on the Governor’s vetoes, specifically those impacting individual homelessness:
  • veto of Berkshire Regional Housing Authority’s $150,000 earmark that funds winter overflow shelter
  • veto of youth funding, which directly threatens youth services and housing that has made a great impact on this population.  Kim Majewski reported that Gandara is likely to lose some staff and is trying very hard to maintain support for the 24 youth currently housed
  • veto of RAFT funding that allowed for expanded eligibility to include individuals’ access to prevention funds
Additionally, the Governor vetoed the Network’s funding.  Legislative overrides are likely to take place in Sept., after revenue figures come in.  We have a very supportive delegation.  But even if overrides happen, the Governor can utilize 9C cuts if the revenue shortfall continues.  The Network Leadership Council is meeting to brainstorm alternative funding sources.
Next meeting dates:
9/14, 10:30-12, Springfield
10/5, 9:30-11, Northampton

Leadership Council Meeting Minutes – 7/27/17

Leadership Council Meeting
July 27, 2017

 In attendance: Jim Ayres, United Way of Pioneer Valley, Mary Jane Bacon, Senator Rosenberg’s office, Tim Brennan, Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, Kathryn Buckley-Brawner, Catholic Charities, Steve Como, Solider On, Ben Cluff, DPH, Dawn DiStefano, Square One, Lisa Goldsmith, DIAL/SELF, Brad Gordon, Berkshire Regional Housing Authority, Clare Higgins, Community Action, Steve Huntley, Valley Opportunity Council; Peg Keller, City of Northampton, Charlie Knight, Rainville, Joanne LaCour, DTA, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Michelle Michaelian, BHN, David Modzelewski, Network, Andrew Morehouse, Food Bank of Western Mass. , Megan Rhodes, Franklin Regional Council of Governments, Dr. Christina Royal, Holyoke Community College, George Ryan, Hampden County Regional Employment Board, Sandy Sayers, United Way of Franklin County, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Sarah Tanner, Friends of the Homeless, Janna Tetrault, Community Action

Motion to Approve Minutes of 4/11/17:
So moved: Tim Brennan
Seconded: Charlie Knight
All in favor with one abstention (Joanne LaCour)

In Memoriam: Ken Demers
The group honored Ken’s enormous contributions to ending homelessness and his steadfast and profound caring for the people he served throughout.  We will sorely miss him.

Welcome to Jim Ayres at United Way of Pioneer Valley
From years-long Leadership Council membership as executive director of the United Way of Hampshire County to now assuming the leadership post at the United Way of Pioneer Valley, the Network’s fiscal sponsor, we are grateful to Jim for his new position. We all look forward to working together to address the Network’s challenges and opportunities.  Welcome, Jim!

Hampden County CoC update:
Gerry provided detailed information regarding the Hampden County CoC’s performance measures as defined by HUD. Please click here for additional detail.

In summary, comparing the last 2 years (ending in 2016):

  • Point in Time count shows 3% decrease in homelessness
  • Annual rate of homelessness down 9%
  • Length of homelessness decreased 9%
  • Average length of stay stayed steady at 210 nights in shelter; median is 129 nights (both for FY16)
  • Placement rate of people from shelter to housing increased from 32 to 40%
  • Reduction in returns to homelessness 8% (1% first 6 months, 1% next 6 months, 6% next 12 -24 months)
  • Largest cause of decrease is reduction in families in shelter (kudos to State interventions)
  • Unsheltered count increased from 35 to 53, all individuals. Biggest driver of increase was extensive outreach and therefore identification of homelessness, especially among youth ages 18-24 years.
  • Youth homelessness overall decreased by 9% (a function of successful new programs)
  • Family homelessness decreased by 7%.
  • Veteran homelessness decreased by 52% – now at 14 identified homeless veterans, down from 50, remaining individuals are largely chronic, difficult to engage, continuing to strategize interventions
  • Chronic homelessness decreased overall by 22%.

Preparation for this year’s HUD application is underway. This data is key. The CoC is investing in a new data system that will be rolled out in September that will enable better integration of CoC’s system with state system and offer to track housing matches within the database. This will make housing placements quicker and more effective.

The CoC is receiving HUD Technical Assistance for a major funding for a youth initiative. Application will be due in December. The Network’s youth committee is providing the umbrella for the meetings in support of this effort.

Three County CoC Update:

Dave Christopolis, the CoC administrator, sent his regrets. Lisa Goldsmith and Brad Gordon reported on the 3 County CoC’s behalf:

  • The CoC is moving forward in its development of its coordinated entry and common assessment tool which will be ready to launch in January. This will include an 800 number (based at Soldier On) to provide immediate assistance with referrals.
  • The by-name lists for homeless veterans and chronically homeless individuals are in development and will be used to prioritize allocation of resources.
  • The CoC itself is in the process of further developing its governance and structure.
  • Brad and Lisa will report back to the CoC about creating a system for delivering more detailed data at the Leadership Council meeting, recognizing the value of LC members being informed about the progress being made.

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