Category Archives: Meeting Minutes

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).

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting Minutes – 12/11/17

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee Meeting Minutes – 12/11/17

In attendance: Emily English, Gandara Center, Rosemary Fielder, Thrive HCC, Lisa Goldsmith, DIAL/SELF, Rebecca Guimand, STCC, Sharon Hall-Smith, Gandara Center, Charlie Knight, Rainville, Yeisie Mateo, DCF, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Rebecca Muller, Grantworks and Gandara, Juan Rivera, DYS, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Jennifer Wands, Springfield Public Schools

This meeting focused on learning more about DCF and DYS and how each agency intersected with unaccompanied homeless youth. Towards that end, we learned from Yeisie Mateo, DCF housing specialist, and Juan Rivera, DYS Holyoke District Office.  Below are some highlights of the conversation:

Yeisie Mateo, DCF:
Yeisie is the housing specialist for all of Western MA.  She focuses primarily on families with small children and consults with youth ages 18-24.  There are very few resources to refer to and she is eager to learn of additional resources.

Young adults can sign on with the department for services (DCF can serve youth ages 18-24 years old).  There are roughly 75-90 consultations with young people each month, all in Western MA.  Case management generally translates into establishing goals and providing assistance in finding employment or going to school.  Many young people who have been part of the foster system want nothing to do with it once they turn 18.  A young person can choose to stay in the foster home after reaching 18 if the foster parent will allow it.  Young people who find an apartment (very difficult to find and afford) can receive a small stipend.

If a young person leaves home at 16 or 17, they generally are not effectively in the custody of DCF in which case they are not eligible for services.

The group discussed the prospect of promoting greater engagement with DCF through building collaborations with community based partners and greater acesss to housing.

Juan Rivera, DYS:

Juan outlined the various treatment programs and capacities of each.  Young people are committed up to age 18 or 21 if involved with juvenile court.  The young person is assessed and the judge determines length of stay at various centers, generally 3-5 month stays.

•   Springfield Residential Treatment program – secure setting – run by CHD – 16 beds

•   Girls secure treatment detention setting – Tinkham Road – CHD –  also a revocation unit for young women who are not compliant – 12 beds

•   Community adolescent treatment program – Worthington St – step-down, short-term stay 3-5 months –  track 2 – more access, technically in the community – 12-14 beds

•   Our House – residential treatment in Greenfield – Key Program – track 2 program – more access to community, going to school, etc. 12-14 beds

•   Westfield Youth Service Center – for boys  – revocation unit, bail unit, stabilization unit, higher offenders, higher risk individuals 27/30 – reassessed

•   Tom Gruccialternative options – 14 – Gandara

•   Independent Living Program – West Springfield CHD – contract with CHD – 12

DYS operates on positive youth development model with a strong clinical component.   90 days before returning to the community, discussion begins around re-entry, appropriate support services, etc.   Services are in place 30 days prior to discharge.

At 18, youth can leave or can sign on to Youth Engagement Services (YES) up to 90 days after discharge.  Entirely voluntary. Western MA has the most young people YES (75-100).  If they don’t sign on they are given resource packets and referrals.

Bridging Opportunity Gap (BOG) is a partnership with community orgs, e.g, NEFWC, Community Action.

DYS District Manager is Lorrie Bobe (already on committee email list).  Juan is here on her behalf and will check back in with her following this meeting.

Next steps:

·      Gerry will invite Catholic Charities to next meeting to gain better clarity about how to access their resources

·      Yeisie will invite DCF Adolescent Supervisor Peter Meade

·      Gerry will follow up with Yeisie (how many homeless youth are seen) and Lorrie (#s committed, in YES, in Track 2) to gain better sense of numbers; in general our goal is to get as clear a picture as possible on the numbers of homeless youth because the more we can quantify the need, the better position we are in to bring resources to the table.

·      We want to identify the points of entry in and out of homelessness within the various systems and the points of connection and resources among community agencies to get youth on the path to stable housing and financial self-sufficiency.

Budget advocacy: Gerry will follow-up with EOHHS to gain a better understanding of how FY18 youth program funds are being allocated.

Next meeting: Tuesday Jan. 9, 2:30-4:00 pm, HCC, Donahue Building, 368

Individual Services Meeting Minutes – 12/7/17

Individual Services Meeting Committee Minutes
12/7/17
 
In attendance:  Rebecca Barowsky, Craig’s Doors, Sam Cunningham, Service Net, Interfaith Shelter, Jen Glover, Lifepath, Charlie Knight, Rainfille, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Jade Lovett, Craig’s Doors, Dave Modzelewski, REACH, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Rachel Weiss, Craig’s Doors, Lynn White, Viability, Chris Zabik, DMH
 
Hampden County CoC Update (via Gerry McCafferty email):
  • The CoC is rolling out and expanding its on-line coordinated entry data system. The developer is this week loading in the Youth and Family VISPDATs, so the system will soon be covering all populations. Individual and youth providers are meeting this Wed to talk about how these systems coordinate, and DV and single adult systems are meeting the following Wed.
  • The CoC will be gearing up for the Point in Time Count, schedule for the last Wed. in January.
  • The state is continuing to move forward with plans for a statewide data warehouse, which would offer an excellent resource for understanding the homeless population across CoC lines and tracking progress.
Three County CoC Update (via Dave Christopolis email):
  • Coordinated entry will be launched in January, 2018.  The CE committee members are all going to participating agencies in person and training people. Case conferencing will begin weekly in each county facilitated by ServiceNet where people in the list will be reviewed based on vulnerability as well as a weekly vacancy report of COC units in order to try to find a housing match.  Three County CoC Board will be asked to vote to approve the CE policy and procedures at the Dec. board meeting.
  • Coordination for the Point in Time Count will take place over the next 6 weeks, coordinated by each county and their sub-regions.
Shelter Updates:
 
Interfaith Cot Shelter, Northampton: Sam reported a smooth start to the season. The shelter has just hired a Spanish speaking person which is great (roughly 1/4-1/3 guests are Spanish speakers).  Sam reported 18 turn-aways for the month of November, 12 due to no capacity and 3 due to under the influence.  (Capacity is 20 beds in Northampton; 6 over-flow in Easthampton.) When people are turned away, they are given bus passes to get to Amherst (Craig’s Doors) and other options are explored with them.  There is a new doctor with Health Care for the Homeless providing service at the shelter each Wed. night which has been very useful.
Craig’s Doors, Amherst: Rachel and Jade reported a smooth start but capacity is also an issue (capacity is 22 men, 6 women).  They turn away roughly 1 or 2 men every night and sometimes must turn away women.
There was discussion of the work afoot via the Amherst Homelessness Committee (funded by the Town of Amherst to hire a staff person who would be available to provide additional prevention and re-housing support (a la Tenancy Preservation Program or the staff person in Northampton).  This would be an extremely useful additional resource.  Conversations also continue to be underway with the Amherst Housing Authority about designating units for homeless individuals.
We discussed the issue of moving people from shelter into housing and the extreme challenges involved, including lack of affordable housing and lack of landlords’ willingness to rent to people with more challenging backgrounds. We agreed it may be useful for the Network to focus on creating opportunities to build community relationships with landlords; we will discuss this further at the next meeting.  We also agreed that tracking the housing outcomes for people entering shelter would be useful to help better identify barriers and possible solutions. We discussed how the imminent implementation of Coordinated Entry may provide some additional tools and information.  We will discuss this further as well at our Jan. and Feb. meetings.
Friends of the Homeless, Springfield (via Janice Humason, email): FOH averaged 142/night in November.  Bed availability is greater in the women’s shelter than the men’s shelter.
Network Update:  Pamela reported the good news that the Network will continue to be funded at least through FY18 thanks to DHCD’s support.  Special thanks to DHCD Assistant Undersecretary Jane Banks for her support (she facilitated a contract amendment with CHD to allocate a portion of its housing stabilization funds to fund the Network).  DHCD determined that in view of the family and individual homelessness system re-procurement process coming up next fiscal year, the Network’s role as a convener around coordination and collaboration is critical.  Additional thanks to Donna Nadeau for her support as well!
Network endorsement of increasing benefits for EAEDC participants who are experiencing homelessness: Committee members unanimously agreed to endorse Mass. Coalition for the Homeless’ legislative advocacy campaign to increase Emergency Aid benefits for the Elderly, Disabled and Children (EAEDC) program participants who are experiencing homelessness. They still receive a reduced grant of only $92.80 from the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance. This monthly grant is 70% lower than the $303.70 average monthly grant for individuals who have housing. It clearly is insufficient for these participants to meet even their most basic needs.  Pamela will report to MCH to add the Network as an endorser.
Hampshire REACH meeting: Jay and Dave reported Hampshire County REACH is meeting this Monday, 12/11 at 1 pm at DMH Haskell Building.  It will be an opportunity to take stock of REACH’s future in view of the imminent implementation of Coordinated Entry sub-regional meetings.  Please come if you can to be part of the discussion!
Way Finders is accepting applications for Live 155, affordable housing on Pleasant Street in Northampton.  There are 3 preferences, including homelessness, relocation (if had to move from the original Pleasant St Lodging) and DMH units.  Go to: https://www.wayfindersma.org/real-estate/property/live-155 to find out how to apply (applications to enter the lottery are due by end of January.
Loretto House has a new executive director, Michael Lewis.  There are openings (sobriety required).
Three County CoC AHAR (Annual Housing Assessment Repot) review: We took some time to review Three County’s AHAR report, an annual HUD requirement (click here ; note that the report is for all of 3 County but the form – due to HUD’s failure to update – states Berkshire County).  The group found it interesting to take a closer look at what HUD is looking at and the numbers in the 3 county area.
Next meeting date: Thursday, Jan. 4, 10:30-noon, Friends of the Homeless

Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes – 12/1/17

Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes – 12/1/17
In attendance: Beth Barbra, Veterans, Inc., Steve Connor, Central Hampshire Veterans Services, Pat DiGregorio, Veterans Inc., Keegan Hersey, Veterans Inc., Nikki Riello, Hilltown Community Development Corp (Three County CoC), Kate Sweetster-Owens, Ali Wilson-Pierce, HUD/VASH.
Hampden County CoC Update:  The CoC is rolling out its new online system that supports coordinated entry. Kate, Katherine and Barb have all been trained on it and are finding it easy to use; they see it as an extremely useful tool for gaining quick info on a veteran’s priority status and for understanding the most appropriate next steps to assist a veteran.  The system also provides real-time data on veterans in the family shelter system, which the CoC has never had before. This will make it easier to make sure those veteran households are connecting to veteran services soon after shelter entry.
Hampden CoC  veteran numbers continue to be low, but it is challenged by some very difficult cases, which don’t have clear paths to resolution.
Three County CoC Update: Nikki provided an update.  They are working with Sue White of the VA to get HUD/VASH updates into the overall tracking system (to keep track of who has been housed).  The current count is at 13 homeless veterans (outside of Soldier On’s system where there are a  couple hundred).   The 3 county veterans committee is continuing to meet monthly to review its by-name list.  Housing placements are happening.
Soldier On housing: The prioritization process is still being worked out between Soldier On and HUD/VASH for the new Agawam housing: Soldier On runs by a first-come, first-serve in terms of processing its applications; the VA is hoping to allocate the units based on priority need.  Conversations are underway to come to a  resolution.  There are currently roughly 20 units left in Agawam.
Responding to Puerto Rican veterans: The group discussed the complexities arising from the arrival of PR veterans in the Springfield area. The usual prioritization system does not apply and there is hope that some accommodation will be made so that these special circumstances can be taken into account, e.g., “over-assets” by virtue of owning property in PR but the property is not habitable.  Discussions with the VA are underway but it is unclear who is in a decision making position. It was recommended to contact the Holyoke VSO office (Jesus) with questions regarding PR veterans.
Statewide Update: Steve noted that at a previous meeting it was said that the Central/West region had 72 unused HUD VASH vouchers.  This was confusing and did not comport with the West’s sense of the numbers.  One theory was that this number was coming from the Worcester area.  It was also noted that HUD/VASH positions are not being filled in both Worcester and Springfield, which adds to a slow-down in the allocation process.
Network Update:  Pamela reported the good news that thanks to DHCD, the Network will be funded to continue its work through at least FY18.  The Leadership Council will still use this opportunity to retain a consultant to explore with Network partners how the Network can best meet the region’s needs in the years ahead.  Stay tuned for more on that in the new year.
Announcements: 
  • Chapin Mansion is looking for a live-in house manager – a great opportunity for a qualified veteran
  • Hampden County got 8 new HUD/VASH vouchers – good news
Next meeting: Friday, January 26, 9 am-10:30 am, Northampton Senior Center