Category Archives: Unaccompanied Homeless Youth

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting Minutes – 6/8/16

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee Meeting
June 8, 2016

 In attendance: Jesus Arce, City of Springfield, Dawn DiStefano, Square One, Lisa Goldsmith, DIAL/SELF, Allie Haber, Network, Natalie Kyles, Gandara Center, Kim Majewski, Gandara Center, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Evelyn Rivera, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Jean Rogers, CHD, Maria Vogel, Gandara Center

FY2017 state budget update:
Conference Committee meeting this week to resolve Senate and House budgets. Now is the time to contact legislators to urge their adoption of Senate version of youth funding ($2 million as opposed to House $1 million). See Pamela’s previous email alert or blog post for more information.

EOHHS Youth Services Grant Update:
Three County Region (Community Action):
Lisa reported that there were significant delays with EOHHS on finalizing contract. DIAL/SELF was likely to sign a sub-contract with Community Action today. It’s unclear how start-up will be impacted by next fiscal year’s budget uncertainties. The Consortium funding is underway but questions have arisen around eligibility and sustainability, which are being sorted out now.

Hampden County CoC:
Gerry reported that programs are underway. For the Consortium, HAP and Catholic Charities are providing rapid rehousing and prevention resources. These resources are complementing an already established infrastructure within each program which has made start-up very smooth. Catholic Charities will also be receiving $350,000 from the CoC for rapid rehousing which will augment the efforts happening now (or replace them depending on continued funding).

Gandara Center Youth Program Update:
3 young adults will have been placed in apartments by the end of this week with rapid rehousing funds. Program staff (currently 2.5) are busy conducting outreach to both youth (schools, colleges, other programs) and landlords. Relationship building is underway with Friends of the Homeless to put a smooth intake/assessment and referral process in place for young adults.

Conducting TAY-VI-SPDAT to assess vulnerability. It was agreed that it is important to track the number of youth scoring high in vulnerability (8 and above) in order to assess whether our current program capacity matches the level of need. In terms of the challenge of assessment, many teens do not know they suffer from a mental health or substance use issue, a real reflection and function of their youth. Frequently the “need for help” only emerges after engagement and then it’s a question of whether the young person is in a place to receive it.

Gandara is creating a list of all youth assessed, their vulnerability scores and prioritization. They are working with Friends of the Homeless to track youth there as well. They are also tracking the precise use of the flex funds (e..g, purchase of steel toe boots in order to take a job that required them) – an extremely valuable resource.

Gerry and Kim will follow-up together about ensuring data input is aligned with HMIS. We agreed it would be useful to have a standing report to bring to the youth committee meetings.

The Host Home component is still in process – have not yet found hosts but in process.

More on evaluation of performance measures:
Pamela shared a draft template (click here) that Simtech (consulting firm Hampden County CoC is using) for quarterly committee review of performance measures. Gerry provided context regarding HUD’s movement from singular provider performance review to whole system review: how is the system doing in ending homelessness. Towards that end, HUD is asking each CoC to report on specific performance measures. Chief among them are returns to homelessness and length of homelessness (in addition to # of people homeless at a given time; increase in overall income and earned income, e.g.,) Pamela also expressed interest in town of origin (prior to homelessness) and demographics such as age, race, etc.

The Network is supporting the CoCs in adopting performance measures tools and methods for review. The goal is for each Network committee to integrate this evaluation tool into their regular meetings. We will continue this conversation at our next meeting, after Gerry and Kim have a chance to meet.

Youth Count review:
What we would do differently: consider timing so that the count does not happen immediately after the seasonal shelters are closed or right at college finals time when students have either dispersed or are likely to be less responsive to outreach due to the focus on exams. Also consider how to engage more deeply with schools (per the various confidentiality constraints).

Next meeting:
Due to summer vacation schedules, we agreed to meet at an odd time:
Friday, July 8
9:30 – 11 am
Center for Human Development
51 Capital Drive, West Springfield

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee Meeting Minutes – 5/11/16

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee
May 11, 2016

In attendance: Jesus Arce, City of Springfield, Pamela Cook, Gandara Center, Lisa Goldsmith, Dial/SELF, Charlie Knight, Rainville/former consumer, Natalie Kyles, Gandara Center, Kim Majewski, Gandara, Peter Miller, Westfield CDGB, Pamela Schwartz, Director, Maria Vogel, Gandara Center

EOHHS newly funded youth program update:
Hampden County:
Gandara Center has hired 2 new staff (to run rapid re-housing and host family programs) and is in the process of hiring a third (for youth specialist for assessments and referrals). Rapid rehousing program will provide up to a year of support for homeless youth 24 and under. They already have referrals and are in the process of locating apartments, mostly in Holyoke and Springfield.   Gandara will hold the lease for apartments with youth having an option to take over the lease after the first year.

The host family program is modeled after CHD’s Safety Zone program, providing emergency placement with a family for 3-4 weeks, a version of short-term shelter and support which could be a pathway to rapid re-housing or reunification with family, circumstances depending. Host families get paid $50/day. 2 potential host families are in the pipeline.

Gandara also received “bonus project funds” through the HUD CoC funding process which will provide an additional 8 units of rapid re-housing for youth.

Three County:
Community Action and EOHHS are still working out contractual issues, including the question of whether the contract will include an up-front payment or require reimbursement. The latter poses great challenges. Hopefully, issues will be resolved imminently.

Unfortunately, the Three County CoC did not receive bonus project funding for their youth programs.

Westfield youth housing update:
Peter Miller provided an update on Our House, a housing project that will provide 10 units of supportive housing for homeless youth. They recently hired a resident manager and expect the housing to open by August 1 and will serve youth in Agawam, Southwick, Westfield and West Springfield.

FY17 State Budget Update:
The House budget included $1 million for youth funding; the Governor’s budget included $2 million. Advocacy will now focus on the Senate budget, due to be released on 5/17. Pamela will provide an action alert after the Senate budget is released regarding messaging to senators. Be sure to contact your senator!

Youth Count
The Youth Count is ongoing (5/2-5/15). Hampden County hosted a few events with minimal turn-out but then an event at STCC the other day had 38 youth attend. They all completed surveys and several assessments are underway right now for support. A very successful day. They also held an event at Dunbar High School where 8 or 9 youth attended. CHD hosted an event at HCC where only 2 youth attended.

Three County, due to its geographical expanse, does not do events, but they are continuing to get surveys out through their usual points of contact. Unfortunately, Greenfield Community College refused to host an event, citing confidentiality reasons. DIAL/SELF is continuing to push on that.

Next meeting: Wed., June 8, 9:30-11, Gandara Center, 1236 Main Street

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee Meeting – 3/9/16

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee Meeting
March 9, 2016

 In attendance: Jesus Arce, City of Springfield, Arlene Goad, Tapestry WIC, Lisa Goldsmith, DIAL/SELF, Charles Knight, SCARF/Rainville, Ann Lentini, Domus, Kim Majewski, Gandara Center, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Peter Miller, City of Westfield, Jean Rogers, CHD, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Rhonda Young, CHD

Hampden County Youth PIT 2016: – final report in process
DRAFT findings show 158 youth between ages 18-24 counted.

We saw a significant decrease in parenting youth in 2016 (down from 199 last year to 116 this year), reflecting the decrease in families in shelter overall (the number of unaccompanied youth has stayed fairly constant).

The vast majority of parenting youth are Hispanic females. 94% of parenting youth families are headed by single parent.

Unaccompanied without children: 57% Hispanic, 28% black

Of note: among youth population strikingly high percentage are Latino (57%, for parenting youth over 90%), a higher percentage than the rest of the population experiencing homelessness (37% among homeless individuals). This demographic shift (younger homeless population is more Latino) is worth looking into further to understand more and to ensure cultural competency in support.

The group is interested in clarifying the age and service breakdowns among the youth population, e.g., parenting youth under 21 are referred to DTA/DCF programs and therefore not counted in the PIT count (must clarify this). Therefore, is entire population of counted parenting youth those youth between ages 21-24, i.e., what is the gap in the PIT count vis-à-vis the reality on the ground of homeless parenting youth (how much bigger is the actual number).

We agreed it would be useful to talk to someone from a Teen Living Program. Pamela will reach out to the YWCA for the next meeting.

Statewide Youth Count Meeting – 3/8/16

A meeting was held yesterday in Worcester, convened by Kelly Turley and others working with the Statewide Commission, for CoC leads to gain strategies around outreach for the youth count. A panel of youth spoke and shared some useful insights, e.g., did not like being called “homeless” but instead a young person experiencing homelessness; that it is jarring to discover through the youth survey that they are “homeless” – a frightening label that they may not have ascribed to themselves.

The count and survey will take place from May 2 – May 15. The Commission is working with Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, a policy research group, that is conducting more intensive analysis of youth through 10 sites nationally and Boston is one of them. Continue reading

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting Minutes – 2/10/16

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting
February 10, 2016

 In attendance: Jesus Arce, City of Springfield, Lisa Goldsmith, DIAL/SELF, Charlie Knight, Rainville/former consumer, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS – Homeless Services, Kim Majewski, Gandara Center, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Rebecca Muller, Grantworks, Pamela Schwartz, Network

Update on State Special Commission on Unaccompanied Homeless Youth:

Lisa reported that current discussions are indicating the Youth Count will take place between 5/2 and 5/15. A training date for CoCs and other participants is tentatively slated for 3/8 at Holy Cross (but no notice issued yet).

There was also discussion of having the youth survey available year-round in order to gain better data on the population.

Rebecca noted recent data obtained in the course of responding to the EOHHS RFR: over 50 youth stayed in Craig’ Door and the cot shelter in 2014 and 40 youth last year.

Gerry reported that in Hampden County, approximately 190 homeless youth were counted. For 18-24 year olds with children, that number was 577 in Hampden County. In Greenfield, that number was 53.


Gerry summarized the Hampden County CoC (City of Springfield) application: the CoC just released 2 RFPs, one to administer flexible funds, the other focused on youth services and housing. The RFP for youth is structured so providers can apply for all or parts of the system.   The proposal includes 2 staff people, one targeted for youth stabilization (prevention) and the other for re-housing (currently in shelters); they would be the point people for getting information and resources out to all possible entry points.

Rebecca summarized the Three County proposal: Community Action is the lead (a good match since it is already the lead for ESG funds) and would continue to sub-contract with Berkshire Regional Housing Authority and work closely with Franklin County Regional Housing Authority as well.

On the youth side, Community Action would sub-contract with DIAL/SELF which would hire a youth outreach worker to do prevention and diversion work in each county; there would also be strong linkages with community colleges as there is increasing awareness of a growing homeless student population .

Our committee would be the connector for aligning policies and procedures across the region.

Initial Planning:

Rebecca proposed that we integrate into this committee a convening four times a year of a larger group invested in ending youth homelessness from a larger cross-section of the community. The meeting would have clear topics and goals for discussion. All agreed this was a great idea.

We agreed that developing and testing the assessment tool is a critical first step.

We agreed that developing data collection systems is also key. Gerry summarized two distinct goals around data collection: (1) to better understand the population and its needs; and (2) to implement a coordinated entry system that allows for scoring around need and determination of best allocation of resources. Gerry pointed out that the Hampden CoC is hoping to receive federal dollars this June that could be used to support the development of the necessary technology for this coordinated entry system. However, we will need to get started before June.

Gerry will reach out to Friends of the Homeless to do youth VI-SPDATs now and begin to analyze the findings. We also discussed utilizing HMIS as much as possible to streamline the data collection. We can draw on the experience of the Hampden County CoC’s partnership with DHCD in acquiring data, and specifically the assessment score, on chronically homeless families (which protected confidentiality).

Jay pointed out that especially with youth, the assessment score is a limited starting point and must be enhanced by on-the-ground feedback about a particular youth’s needs. Lisa is joining Jay Levy and Jay Sacchetti in looking at assessment tools and beginning to assess the best tool for the region, including the appropriate assessment tool for youth. It was agreed that there would be different stages of assessment depending on whether a youth needed prevention or diversion.

We agreed that it is important to start testing out tools ASAP, and not do extensive process independent of immediately collecting data and empirical feedback.

Next meeting date: Wed., 3/9, 9:30 am – 11 am. Location to be confirmed depending on available space (first try will be Gandara Center)