Category Archives: Meeting Minutes

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Family Services Committee Meeting Minutes – 9/18/18

Family Services Committee Meeting
September 18, 2018
 
In attendance: Shelley Benoit, BHN, Melissa Blisset, Square One, Lynnanne Brown, Elizabeth Freeman Center, Portia Bullock?, NEFWC, Ellen Broadhurst, Chicopee Public Schools, Hillary Cronin, VA HUD VASH, Anthia Elliott, BHN, Fran Lemay, Greenfield Family Inn/ServiceNet, Heather Marshall, Elizabeth Freeman House, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Janna Teatrault, Community Action, Melissa White, Valley Opportunity Council
DHCD data review – click here
We reviewed the data provided by DHCD and confirmed our continued need for greater clarity, e.g., to include the transfer number in the number of entries and exits does not provide us with meaningful data.  We also agreed it would be useful to understand:
  • among the number of EA applicants, how many were diverted, and within that number, how many used RAFT, how many used HomeBASE
  • on the data sheet that details “where client went upon exit” the first box says “emergency shelter” – need to clarify that
We also agreed that once Donna has returned (10/1), we will ask for her placement numbers to be added to the monthly report.
Network earmark update
Pamela shared the Network Steering Committee conversation regarding the allocation of the Network earmark of $125,000.  The current proposal is to allocate $25,000 to training needs for the Network focused on a range of skills and practices, including trauma-informed care, how to run a housing oriented shelter, and cultural competency.  The remainder would be allocated to flexible funds to assist with prevention and rapid rehousing, including landlord mitigation funds (e.g., repairs, etc.) to encourage renting to tenants. The Committee unanimously supported this proposal.
Family Services Committee work plan
The Network Steering Committee also requested that the Network committees consider its goals and broad work plan for this fiscal year.  After discussion, the group recommended these broad goals:
  • relationship building and information sharing (supports motivation and positive energy in the work)
  • legislative advocacy – a unified voice and opportunity to meet with legislators
  • professional development through Network sponsored trainings
We agreed to further brainstorm outcome measures related to # of legislative meetings and legislative outcomes and # of people attending trainings, broken down by agency type and sub-region so we can best assess Network reach and impact.
Network Legislative Meeting: November 16, 1-3 pm, Greenfield Community College
The Network is hosting a legislative meeting to introduce the 5 new legislators in the Upper Valley.  It will be regionwide, including all Western MA legislators and local officials and Network partners.  Stay tuned for additional info but mark your calendars for now!
Next meeting dates/times
Our previous meeting time of 1 pm on Tuesday permanently conflicts with Hampden County’s individual case conferencing meetings which precludes Gerry McCafferty, the Hampden CoC liaison, from ever attending these meetings.  All agreed that it was no problem (and for some, even preferred!) to move the time to at least afford the opportunity for her to join us.
In general, we will move our meeting time to 11 am-12:30 pm but due to a conflict in October, for the October meeting we will meet from 12 noon-1:30 pm.
So our upcoming meeting schedule is:
 
Tues., 10/9, 12 noon – 1:30 pm
Tues., 11/13, 11 am – 12:30 pm
Tues., 12/11, 11 am – 12:30 pm
Note: Unfortunately, the Holyoke Public Library is not available, but HCC’s Frost Room 309 is.  So our meetings will take place there.

Three County Individual Services Meeting Minutes – 9/17/18

Three County Individual Services Meeting
9/17/18
 

In attendance:  Elizabeth Bienz, ServiceNet, Sam Cunningham, ServiceNet, Eleanor Dodson, ServiceNet, Jen Glover, Life Path, Lisa Goldsmith, DIAL/SELF, Erin Forbush, ServiceNet, Chris Hughes, ServiceNet, Andy Klatka, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Jay Levy, Eliot Services, Katie Miernecki, ServiceNet, Danielle McColgan, CHD, Star Mott, ServiceNet, Nikki Riello, Hilltown CDC, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Kate Shapiro, DMH, Michael Trembley, ServiceNet, Hayley Wood, Easthampton Council on Aging, John Wren, ServiceNet, Chris Zabik, DMH

Coordinated Entry Update
Erin Forbush provided an update regarding weekly Coordinated Entry meetings.  They are taking place at 1 pm every Monday at this ServiceNet location (296 Nonutuck Street).  Every week there is a meeting to discuss individual clients and best housing matches. In the last 2 months there have been no vacancies, largely as a result of ServiceNet’s shift in its HUD contracts for Permanent Supportive Housing.

There are 2 contracts that are in transition, 1 for 15 beds that ends as of Jan. 2019 and the other for 45 beds that ends as of July 2019.  In Northampton, this impacts 38 Hawley Street (12 units) and Pleasant Street (1 unit).  ServiceNet is working diligently with individuals impacted to ensure they are re-housed as needed.  Meanwhile, the Three County CoC has posted an RFP for these housing funds to be administered by another agency.

Network earmark update
Pamela shared the Network Steering Committee conversation regarding the allocation of the Network earmark of $125,000.  The current proposal is to allocate $25,000 to training needs for the Network focused on a range of skills and practices, including trauma-informed care, how to run a housing oriented shelter, and cultural competency.  The remainder would be allocated to flexible funds to assist with prevention and rapid rehousing, including landlord mitigation funds (e.g., repairs, etc.) to encourage renting to tenants. The Committee unanimously supported this proposal.  Members especially noted the need for training on harm reduction and trauma-informed care.  The lack of racial and ethnic diversity in our own group was also noted and the group agreed it would be extremely valuable to allocate resources for training around our cultural competency.  We distributed the newly produced data around race and ethnicity within the region’s homeless population, noting the disproportionate representation of people of color (click here for the report ).

Network Legislative Meeting: November 16, 1-3 pm, Greenfield Community College
The Network is hosting a legislative meeting to introduce the 5 new legislators in the Upper Valley.  It will be region-wide, including all Western MA legislators and local officials and Network partners.  Stay tuned for additional info but mark your calendars for now!

Upcoming training on Overcoming Tenant Screening Barriers
This training is taking place on October 4, 9:30-11:30 am at HCC.  Pamela will send a reminder notice just to this group attending in order to provide an opportunity for more 3 County CoC attendance.

Next meeting date:
Monday, October 15
1 pm – 2:30 pm
ServiceNet
296 Nonotuck Street, Florence

 

 

Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes 9/5/18

Veterans Committee Meeting Committee Minutes
9/5/18
In attendance:  Heather Cahillane, Soldier On, Janice Humason, FOH/CSO, Gerry McCafferty, Hampden County CoC, Lizzy Ortiz, Mercy Medical, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Stephanie Tonelli, FOH/CSO, Catherine Torres, FOH/CSO
Built for Zero Update – click here for the report 
note: the report is titled August but the numbers listed are through July, 2018
The numbers are creeping up a bit but the analysis suggests that that is a function of more veterans willing to self-identify as word gets around re: housing options and support. We noted how it is important to explicitly explain these upticks to the extent they are a paradoxical reflection of progress in the system.
It was also noted that there were zero placements in July and August, a reflection of the challenge in finding affordable and suitable housing (a segue to the later topic on the approval of HUD VASH vouchers for VA ineligible veterans!).
The group discussed increasing coordination with the Three County CoC to better identify veterans that are moving between the sub-regions so as to best understand veterans’ status and needed outreach/support.  Committee members will reach out to 3 County CoC to learn meeting schedule and will attend.
HUD VASH vouchers for VA ineligible veterans:  We are still experiencing an extremely frustrating challenge with HUD’s bureaucracy as the only thing standing in the way of using these vouchers for VA ineligible veterans is HUD approval. Gerry is reaching out to Bob Pulser of US ICCH for assistance. The community is at the ready to house 8-10 VA ineligible veterans as soon as the vouchers and support service plan (with ServiceNet) is approved. We will keep pushing!
Built for zero learning sessions – Gerry put the word out that the next learning session is October 10-12 in Detroit.  Expenses paid. Participants must commit to participating in improvement projects between learning sessions. Please contact Gerry if interested.
Network update:
  •  The Network was allocated its $125,000 earmark in this FY19 budget.  The Steering Committee will be meeting next week to discuss its allocation across the region and will report back.
Next meeting date:
Wednesday, October 3
2 pm – 2:30 pm (case conferencing to follow)
Friends of the Homeless,
755 Worthington Street, Springfield

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee Meeting Minutes –

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee Meeting Minutes
August 8, 2018
 
In attendance: Emily English, Gandara Center, Rosemary Fielder, HCC, Sharon Hall-Smith, Gandara Center, Ann Lentini, Domus, Inc., Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Rylee O’Brien, Baystate General Pediatrics, Lizzy Ortiz, Mercy Medical, Mena Regan, CHD, Denise Rivera, FOH/CSO, Jean Rogers, CHD, Martha Sandoval, Baystate General Pediatrics, Pamela Schwartz, Network , Julie Vital, Baystate General Pediatrics
State Youth RFR:
The FY19 State Budget includes $3.3 million in funding for youth homelessness services (triumphant!).  The RFR has already been issued to fund 10 regions across the state, including Hampden County and the Three County region. The aim is to build an infrastructure for youth homelessness services that will hopefully grow over the coming years.  The state is providing 2 year contracts (funding allocated for the first year only) and plans to make the contracts renewable for up to 8 years, clearly indicating the evolving nature of this project.
Certain core services must be provided, e.g.,outreach, prevention, rapid re-housing, stabilization, and winter shelter that is separate from the adult system.  Funding for each region will range from $250,000 to $320,000.
4 regions (not including Western MA) will be eligible for additional funding to support partnerships with local state colleges for available housing. There is potential for growth in this area as well.

Responses are due to the state on Sept. 10.  For the Three County region, Community Action will be the lead applicant, working with DIAL/SELF and Berkshire Regional Housing Authority.  For Hampden County, the Hampden County CoC will be the lead applicant.  Because this CoC is based in the City of Springfield, the CoC has issued an RFP for partners interested in participating in this project which is due on 8/29. For more information, go to: 19-025 Homeless Youth Services and 19-025 Addendum No. 1

MANY Call on coordinated entry:  This is part of a series of calls to share best practices and network among youth providers across the country.  This call focused on coordinated entry.  Hampden County has launched its coordinated entry process with youth, meeting monthly to review data on youth – assessment status, etc. – and housing options. The goal is to establish a clear process for determining highest priority and allocating resources on that basis.
The take-away message from this call is to focus on HOUSING; that every day a young person is homeless increases the chances of staying homeless for longer.
Coordinated entry training for youth committee and other providers:  We all recognized the need for a broader coordinated entry training and discussion in our region.  Gerry agreed to offer this to youth providers later in Sept. or early October.
Youth Data Update:  Please click here for Hampden County data on youth and here for both Hampden and Three county data .  This will be utilized in our upcoming grant applications.  We agreed we would meet as needed in late Aug/early Sept. to support the grant writing process.
FY19 Budget Update – Highlights include (in addition to $3.3m for youth!):
  • RAFT funded at $20m (including at least $3m for individuals)
  • HomeBASE benefit increased from $8,000 to $10,000
  • The Network received its earmark of $125,000.  The Steering Committee will be meeting at the end of August to discuss budget planning.
Next meeting date: Wednesday, 9/26, 9 am – 10:30 am, Kittredge Center, Room 303, HCC 

Family Services Meeting Minutes – 8/7/18

Family Services Committee Meeting Minutes
August 7, 2018
 
In attendance: Melissa Blissett, Square One, Joel Cox, NEFWC, Hillary Cronin, VA, Christine Cullen, Holyoke Chicopee Family Community Program, 
Jennifer Gonzalez, Holyoke Public Schools, Jessica Jacobs, TPP, Fran Lemay, ServiceNet, Heather Marshall, Elizabeth Freeman Center, Theresa Nicholson, CHD, Lizzy Ortiz, Mercy Medical, Steve Plummer, Springfield Partners, Jenni Pothier, TPP, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Rachel Shuman, WomanShelter, Tonya Sparks, WomanShelter, Janna Tetrault, Community Action, Janette Vigo, Way Finders, Jennifer Wands, Springfield Public Schools
 
State EA Data Review (click here)
Follow-up questions for DHCD:
  • Do the number of applicants listed in Pittsfield and Greenfield include phone applications?
  • Can we get families entering shelter excluding transfers?
  • Can we get diversion numbers (at the front door)?
  • Is there tracking of returns to shelter post end of HomeBASE benefit?
Pamela will follow-up with Andrew and Donna in advance of the next meeting.
FY19 State budget
Family homelessness related highlights include:
  • RAFT funded at $20m (including at least $3m for individuals)
  • HomeBASE benefit increased from $8,000 to $10,000
  • Elimination of family cap (so families are not penalized if they have another child while receiving benefits)
  • Youth homelessness was funded at $3.3m – will be used to develop a youth homelessness program in 10 regions across the state – Western MA is counted as 2 regions with Hampden County and Three County.
  • Tenancy Preservation Project funded at $1.3m (up from $500,000); the bulk of the increase will go to serve new housing court expansion in other parts of the state
  • The Network received its earmark of $125,000.  The Steering Committee will be meeting at the end of August to discuss budget planning.
Update on Puerto Rico evacuees
Way Finders is administering the METAR program (MA Evacuee Temporary Assistance Reserve Program) and has hired a team of housing case managers and a program case manager.  The program provides up to $8,000 for families and $4,000 for individuals. Thus far they have assessed 109 households (103 are living in hotels) and 22 families have been housed thus far.  Way Finders has walk-in hours, Tues.,Wed. and Thurs, 9 am – 1 pm.
Springfield Public Schools has 650 student evacuees.
Holyoke Public Schools has 250 registered student evacuees.
Hampden County CoC Update (from Gerry McCafferty via email):
  • Springfield-Hampden CoC is moving into coordinated entry for Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) for families.  Way Finders and NEFWC have been trained on electronic system, CHD and VOC will be trained soon.
  • CoC competition applications due by 8/8/18, 4 pm.  The RFP is available: Springfield-Hampden CoC Competition RFP FY18
  • CoC has just released RFP looking for local partners to apply for Mass Homeless Youth Program.  Note that target population are all youth 18-24, including parenting youth. Responses are due 8/29/18 and the CoC will hold a bidders’ conference on 8/17, 18, 10 am, Springfield Municipal Operations Center, 70 Tapley St. Springfield. Go to: 19-025 Homeless Youth Services and 19-025 Addendum No. 1
DHCD Procurement Meeting Debrief: On July 26, DHCD (Jane Banks and Donna Nadeau) convened a meeting of Western MA EA shelter providers to begin the conversation around the upcoming re-procurement process (not due out until next year). The consensus was that it was a good start; for some newcomers to the system, it was a good way to learn more about our current systems.  There was emphasis on the need for greater and more in-depth continuity of service – ensuring families are in the right program model that best meets kids’ and parents’ needs, especially related to mental health.  The group discussed the particularly complex challenges facing larger families.
It was noted that this was the first meeting and there will be opportunity for further discussion and planning together.  Pamela offered the Network as a resource in facilitating further regional conversations.
Announcement: Holyoke and Chicopee Family and Community Program (662 High Street, Holyoke) is offering a nurturing place program for infants and toddlers  – meets weekly on Tuesdays.  Call 413-536-0363 for more information.
Meeting schedule: all at Holyoke Public Library
Sept. 18 – 1-2:30 pm
Oct. 9, 1-2:30 pm
Nov. 13, 1-2:30 pm
Dec. 11, 1-2:30 pm

Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes – 8/1/18

Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes
August 1, 2018
In attendance: Grechar Aquino, Friends of the Homeless, Janice Humason, Friend of the Homeless, Nichole King, Friends of the Homeless, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Sabrina McGill, Soldier On, Katherine Person, Veterans Inc, Denise Rivera, Friends of the Homeless, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Kate Sweetster-Owens, VA, Stephanie Tonelli, FOH
Built for Zero Update:  Please click here for the latest numbers on veterans (19 homeless veterans as of the end of June).  Last month 3 veterans were housed.  Making progress!
VHA-Ineligible vouchers.  Many of the homeless veterans on the by-name list are VHA ineligible. We are waiting on HUD’s approval of the MOU signed by the Northampton Housing Authority and ServiceNet that would allow for the use of HUD VASH vouchers for VHA ineligible veterans. Hampden County is hoping to house 8 or 9 veterans with these vouchers.  Gerry and Steve Connor are trying hard to move along the process and we are hoping for release of the vouchers very soon.
FY19 State Budget Update:  The final budget was signed a week ago. There were many positive outcomes for homelessness and housing, including an increase in funding for RAFT ($20 million statewide!) and the availability of this resource to individuals (at least $3 million).  Another exciting development is the increase in funding for youth homelessness, $3.5 million statewide, a massive increase relative to last year’s $675,000.  Please go to the Western MA Network blog – http://westernmasshousingfirst.org – to get more detailed budget updates (and please subscribe to it if you haven’t already!).
Network training calendar for FY19: Pamela shared the update on the Network’s plan to schedule targeted trainings for the year, drawing on the enthusiastic interest demonstrated at the Resource Fair.  The Network Steering Committee received the committees’ feedback and agreed to support a series of topical trainings throughout the year, culminating in the Resource Fair in June. Based on the level of interest at the fair, the Network will aim to schedule the workshops “Overcoming Tenant Screening Barriers” and “Homelessness and the Opioid Epidemic” in the early part of this year.  Please stay tuned for an email inviting your additional input.
Next meeting date: Wednesday, September 5, 2 pm-2:30 pm, FOH.

Hampden County Individual Services Meeting Minutes – 7/24/18

Individual Services Committee Meeting Minutes 
July 24, 2018
 

In Attendance:  Grechar Aquino, Friends of the Homeless, Jesus Arce, City of Springfield, Olivia Bernstein, Mental Health Association, Lynn Conway, PDPR/BSAS, Jessica Dorman, Mercy Medical, John Fisher, Way Finders, Fina Fulla-Kay, City of Springfield, Marvin Gonzalez, Eliot CHS, Dave Havens, Mental Health Association, Sarah Hills, Eliot CHS, Janice Humason, Friends of the Homeless, Hershelle Keaves, BHN, Todd Konlezhny, Lighthouse, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Lizzy Ortiz, Mercy Hospital, John Paglier, Mercy Hospital, Denise Rivera, Friends of the Homeless, Christina Ruest, Friends of the Homeless, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Dennis Sheehan, Stephanie Tonelli, Friends of the Homeless, Friends of the Homeless, Kathy West, Eliot CHS, Lynn White, Viaiblity, Kimberly Wiggins, BHN Mission West, Chris Zabik, DMH

Built for Zero Update (see attachment Chronic Report July 2018):
Gerry reviewed the Chronic Report with the group, noting that Hampden County just housed 10 people this past month, the highest since last December.  More than 20 individuals are in line to be housed imminently.
Total number of chronically homeless individuals is now at 84.   The data indicates that overall in-flow has exceeded out-flow but this is also a function of the by-name list becoming a more accurate representation of the number of CH homeless individuals in the county, e.g., added in the individuals at Annie’s Houses and Safe Havens. The number of housing placements over the months has varied widely, e.g., 2 in June, 10 in July.
The last Built for Zero conference in Detroit was productive. The Hampden County group decided on 3 things to focus on in the next 3 month period:
1. shortening the speed of referral within the system to husing
2. producing a list of landlords who house people with sex offense histories
3. housing VHA ineligible veterans with HUD VASH vouchers (just waiting on HUD approval to begin that process)
Shelter Inventory List:(see attachment)
The group reviewed the list and noted that the Samaratin Inn (on attachment as Greater Westfield Committee for Homeless) is constantly under-capacity.  The group agreed it would be useful to meet with Donna Nadeau to discuss this.  Pamela will include Gerry, Janice Humason, Sarah Hills and Lizzy Ortiz in an outreach email with Donna Nadeau on this topic.
FY19 State Budget Update:
Pamela reviewed the Conference Committee’s FY19 budget that was recently released and is now subject to the Governor’s review. Housing and homelessness programs did very well overall, including an increase in RAFT funding and the inclusion of funding for individuals in the RAFT program and $3.3 million in funding for youth services.
Note: since this meeting the FY19 budget has been finalized.  The funding outlined above stayed intact. For more information, please go to the Network blog – http://westernmasshousingfirst.org (and please subscribe to the blog where budget updates and other information are regularly posted!).
Network Training Workplan for FY19
Pamela reported on the Network Steering Committee’s decision per committee feedback to support the scheduling of targeted trainings over the course of the coming year, culminating in the Resource Fair in June.  Pamela sought this committee’s feedback on which of the trainings offered at the Resource Fair would be most useful to offer again with more time (and more opportunity to attend since there would be no other trainings offered alongside it).  Based on informal discussion and feedback, the group expressed interest in this order:
  • overcoming tenant screening barriers
  • homelessness and the opioid epidemic
  • domestic violence resources (NOTE: Gerry has arranged a training for the CoC on September 10 – will provide more details to the group shortly)
  • youth services
  • EA and HomeBASE for families
The group also expressed interest in focusing on landlord resources (how to locate landlords!), especially pertaining to housing people with sex offense histories.
Pamela encouraged people to contact her with any additional thoughts and she will provide another opportunity via a targeted email on this topic.
Next meeting date: Tuesday Aug 28, 1 pm, FOH.

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting Minutes – 6/15/18

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting Minutes – 6/15/18
 
In attendance:  Emily English, Gandara Center, Rosemary Fiedler, Holyoke Community College, Lisa Goldsmith, DIAL/SELF, Ann Lentini, Domus, Inc., Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Jean Rogers, CHD, Pamela Schwartz, Network
Homelessness Resource Fair Debrief:
Summary of comments and brainstorm: In the big picture, a success – such an amazing turn-out with great energy. In the smaller picture, it was too many people (a good problem!) to accomplish the most of what we want to accomplish (true resource sharing, a chance to dialogue and get to all the tables, a chance to get trained on sub-topics).
Our brainstorm landed us on the consensus recommendation that we should separate out the actual resource fair and tabling from the trainings.  Have the resource fair be JUST that – 2 hours of visiting tables and having conversation – and then have discrete trainings throughout the year on the range of topics offered at the fair.  This way, people are not being forced to choose among competing topics AND we can afford to give each topic the time it deserves based on the content and complexity (as opposed to based on fitting in the flow of other workshops).  Pamela will take this suggestion to the other committees and report back.
New youth housing units in Northampton:  
DIAL/SELF is managing these units.  For the pre-application form click here and for the brochure click here.

MANY learning collaborative:
MANY is the Mid-Atlantic Network for Youth – a national trade organization for runaway/homeless youth.  It is sponsoring a series of best practices phone/web meetings starting this Wed.  Our Committee members are able to participate (thanks to DIAL/SELF for leveraging their membership!).  The first call is this Wed.  We will stay posted.

Update on State Plan to End Homelessness: The report has been issued; the Commission is now focused on hiring an executive director.
FY19 State Budget update:  The budget is now in Conference Committee.  The Senate budget proposed funding at $3.3 million, the highest by far (House at $1m, Gov. at $2m).  We are calling our legislators and will keep everyone posted.
Evaluation of FY18 and Western MA youth homelessness: The group agreed that it would be useful to review this past year around both outcomes and the factors influencing those outcomes, e.g., the funding loss and the consequence to young adults’ engagement with services.  The groups will also review the basic indicators of:
# housed
# on wait list
length of stay
returns to homelessness
We will exchange reports and discuss at our next meeting.
Gander’s Youth Impact Center at 41 Taylor Street in Springfield:  Fantastic opening; fantastic resource for young people.  Everyone should visit!
 
Next meeting date:
August 8 9 am – 10:30 am, Frost Building, Room 309, HCC