Category Archives: Meeting Minutes

Congress Agrees to Historic Funding for HUD in FY18 Omnibus Budget Bill

From the HUD Resource Center:

Congressional leaders Wednesday announced agreement on a $1.29 trillion fiscal year (FY) 2018 omnibus spending bill, of which nearly $700 billion was for defense and $591 billion for nondefense. According to the House Appropriations Committee release, the bill provides full-year appropriations legislation and funding for the 12 annual appropriations bills through the end of FY 2018 (Sept. 30) and includes a $60 billion increase in nondefense spending over current funding levels.

For the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the bill provides $52.75 billion in gross discretionary spending and $42.7 billion in net appropriations, according the House Appropriations Committee Transportation-HUD summary. The gross spending level is $4.69 billion (9.8 percent) more than the amount appropriated in FY 2017, $4.71 billion (9.8 percent) more than the House FY 2018 bill, and $2.8 billion (5.6 percent) more than the Senate FY 2018 bill. Given the budget challenges facing nondefense and HUD spending, this represents a historic increase and amount of funding for HUD, and a tremendous achievement for the affordable housing community.

This omnibus spending bill and the funding levels for HUD were made possible by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, which increases the nondefense spending caps for FY 2018.

Highlights of the bill follow.


Blog Chart Key Programs of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Budget
Click to Enlarge



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.

Hampden County Individual Services Meeting Minutes – 3/27/18

Hampden County Individual Services Meeting Minutes
March 27, 2018

In attendance:  Grechar Aquino, Friends of the Homeless (FOH), Olivia Bernstein, Mental Health Association, Steve Connor, Veterans Services, Marvin Gonzalez, Eliot Services, Richard Hendrick, social worker, Sarah Hills, Eliot CHS Homeless Services, Janice Humason, Friends of the Homeless, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Digno Ortiz, Friends of the Homeless, Keith Rhone, FOH, Denise Rivera, FOH, Laura Robertson, Catholic Charities, Christina Ruest, FOH, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Stephanie Tonelli, FOH, Chris Zabik, DMH

Hampden County Point in Time Count Report (see below):

Gerry provided the following update:

Observations included:

  • The total number, 354, is the lowest number the CoC has had since the CoC became all of Hampden County (2011)
  • The unsheltered number has usually bounced between 30 and 55, except 2015, when the count took place in between two Nor’easters, and was only10
  • The count will not be finalized until people displaced from PR hurricane are accounted for (in hotels through FEMA), still waiting on that number
  • More than 50 of the people counted as chronically homeless in last year’s count have been housed (great progress); there are a number of people newly aging into chronic status and unsheltered people are better counted.  Overall, people are moving through the system into housing at a better rate.

Homelessness Resource Fair:

The Network’s second annual Homelessness Resource Fair is taking place on Thurs., June 14, 9:30 am – 12:30 pm at HCC.  We will offer a series of brief workshops, and feedback from the survey reflected interest in learning about resources for chronically homeless individuals. The group decided to offer a workshop that would feature the following information:

  • defining “chronically homeless” – what is criteria?
  • why are we especially focused on this population?
  • how are we addressing it through “coordinated entry” and other systemwide efforts

Janice has agreed to be a point person for the workshop and Laura Robertson has agreed as well. Other people to consider reaching out to are Kathy West of Eliot CHS Homeless Services and Dave Havens of MHA.  Pamela will also reach out to ServiceNet since this resource fair covers the whole western region.  Gerry will provide a hand-out for the workshop that summarizes how to access the coordinated entry system.

HUD Budget Update:

Congress just passed a nearly 10% increase in HUD spending, the largest single increase in 20 years. Homelessness Assistance received a 5.5% increase.  This is great news!

Emergency Shelter Update

Friends of the Homeless reported a notably high number of 172 individuals per night. It was noted that the Hartford seasonal shelter closes in the 2nd week of March and this may explain some of the FOH rise.

We did not have other 3 county shelter providers at this meeting for their reports.  Pamela will reach out to see if they are interested in participating in the Hampden County meeting by Skype or at minimum to obtain their data so Pamela can report on it at our next Hampden County meeting.

Next Hampden County meeting date: Tuesday, April 24, 1 pm – 1:30 pm, FOH.

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee Meeting Minutes – 3/14/18

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee Meeting Minutes – 3/14/18

In attendance: Emily English, Gandara Center, Rosemary Fiedler, HCC, Lisa Goldsmith, DIAL/SELF, Rebecca Guimond, STCC, Jayson LaBombard-Morse, HCC student, Ann Lentini, Domus, Inc., Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Rebecca Muller, Gandara, Juan Rivera, DCF, Jean Rogers, DYS, Pamela Schwartz, Network

Hampden County Point in Time Count Findings for Youth:

Gerry reported on the findings for youth – ages 18-24 – from the annual HUD Point in Time count conducted on Jan 31:

  • Total homeless youth 118, 90% were parenting youth in the family shelter system, 28 were neither parenting or with parents – 26 in shelter, 2 unsheltered (a couple living in an abandoned building)
  • Of the 118, 81% are female, 70% latina, 17% black, 3% non-hispanic white
  • Of the 26 non parenting youth: 61% female, 71% latina, 11% black, 11% non-hispanic white
  • Since 2015, the youth count numbers have steadily decreased, both among parenting youth and unaccompanied youth.  Parenting youth since 2015 have decreased each year from 243 to 111 to 106 to 90.  Unaccompanied youth have decreased since 2015 from 45 to 44 to 35 to 28.  However, it was noted that outreach during the count this year was less extensive than the previous year so the decline in numbers may only be a reflection of that lessened outreach.

A brief discussion of these numbers: the high percentage of latino/a homeless youth was noted – this is significantly higher than the percentage in the community (as opposed to African American percentage which is more consistent).   Also striking is the gap between the number of women and men (women so much higher).  We will further discuss.

The full PIT count is complete but for the final accounting of those who are living in FEMA sponsored motels as a result of the Puerto Rico natural disaster.  The total number in Hampden County is 1,047 or 393 households.

Youth by-name list and case conferencing: Gerry is convening the first youth-only by-name list meeting next Tuesday.  Youth providers will be meeting at Friends of the Homeless (since FOH is where the greatest number of unaccompanied homeless youth reside).  29 youth have been in and out of FOH over recent months.  They are in the process of being assessed with the youth VI-SPDAT. After the key providers and systems get established, they will invite other agency providers, eg., DMH, DCF, DYS to broaden the web of housing assistance and support.  This is an exciting development!

HUD Youth Grant: Gerry reported that the youth grant is due in one month. The engagement of a Youth Advisory Board is an important component. Rebecca reported that the new DMH funded Access Center Grant – an on-site drop-in center on Taylor Street – is a resource for engaging and meeting with youth.  Jean also reported that she has young people who would like to get involved. Rebecca, Jean and Emily will continue to discuss this Board development.

 Network 2nd Annual Resource fair: Pamela reported on the planning thus far with the planning team.  It is taking place on Thursday, June 14, 9:30 am – 12:30 am at HCC.  We brainstormed the workshops and the desire to have longer than 30 minutes this year for each topic (Pamela will bring that back to the planning group).  The group agreed it would do a youth services workshop.  Pamela will reach out to Lisa, Jean, Emily, Ann and Rebecca to schedule a workshop planning all.

State Youth Count: coming up end of April/early May.  We agreed we needed to bring in the public school liaisons to help plan for outreach.  Pamela will do outreach to get them to our next meeting where we will feature planning for the count.

Network Evaluation Check-In: Pamela updated the group on the Network evaluation findings and the various committee mergers that are happening across Veterans and Individual Committee meetings (merging with CoC meetings).  There was general agreement that this youth meeting continues to serve an important function as is; that if anything our focus should be on additional outreach or targeted outreach depending on our agenda items.  Pamela will start with the school liaisons.

Next meeting date: Monday, April 2, 1 pm – 2:30 pm, HCC Frost Building Room 309