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:
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.
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!
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