Category Archives: Unaccompanied Homeless Youth

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee Minutes – 5/25/17

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee
May 25, 2017

In attendance: Courtney Godbolt, Friends of the Homeless, Lisa Goldsmith, DIAL/SELF, Sarah Hills, Eliot CHS, John Lewis, Springfield Police/Shannon Grant, Kim Majewski, Gandara Center, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Jenny Mills, Youth Build, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Delphine Wray, Friends of the Homeless

Youth Count Debriefs:
The MA sponsored youth count took place over 2 weeks at the start of May.

Hampden County: Kim reported 3-4 events (boys and girls club, STCC, Dunbar, MLK) – STCC generated most contact with approx. 30 surveys. CHD organized an event at HCC which generated approx. 35 surveys.  Gerry reported over 100 surveys were completed from parenting youth residing at shelters.  This number is greater than last year (except the state has not yet released the results from last year’s surveys).  High school outreach was not particularly fruitful.  A couple of non-profit organizations complained that they felt tired of being asked to complete surveys without additional engagement.  This suggests the need for more sustained follow-up around the services that are available.

Hampshire County: Lisa reported that there were a couple of outreach events, one at ServiceNet, another in Greenfield.  She does not have outcome info as she was not directly involved in running these events. She noted that some of the youth that had interacted with ServiceNet had not been referred to DIAL/SELF, which points again to the need for sustained outreach (since it’s not just a matter of “knowing” about the resources are there but really about integrating their existence into the daily work).

Discussion of data collection and analysis as it pertains to understanding the status of the youth homelessness and the system response to it:We returned to question of what data would be useful for this committee to generate to best understand the over-arching questions:

  • how many youth are homeless?
  • how many are assessed?
  • how quickly and in what manner are they getting housed?
  • are they staying housed or returning to homelessness?

The broader goal is to determine the amount of youth homelessness and how effective our system is in responding to it and where the gaps lie.

We noted the limits of the State’s quarterly report requirements stemming from the youth grant since they are too detailed and too specific to the programs meeting their grant obligations.  The questions listed above require a combination of HMIS data and a by-name list (as successfully demonstrated by Hampden County’s coordinated entry efforts with chronic homeless and veterans; Three County has a coordinated entry retreat scheduled for 6/19). Gerry also noted the development of a new data warehouse for Hampden County that is in process that will greatly increase capacity to pull the data we are interested in.

Kim noted that Gandara Center is currently maintaining a list of youth that seek services but it is not formalized based on the questions listed above.  Gerry and Kim will meet to plan for the development of a list that is consistent with coordinated entry.  Lisa noted that DIAL/SELF’s youth workers each have a list of who they are currently working with but that is also not an overall cohesive by-name list and it also does not account for the people who are referred but do not make it into services.  This goes to the universal challenge of greater outreach and engagement services.

Another area to explore is the intersection between unaccompanied youth and parenting youth who are in the family shelter system – how do the two systems connect, e.g., an unaccompanied youth seeks services through Gandara and then later reveals having a child in the foster care system or at a relative’s home.

For next month’s meeting, we agreed that Gerry and Kim would report back on their meeting around a by-name list; Lisa would share any additional information/thoughts on reporting; we will further discuss the outreach to family providers working with parenting youth.

State Budget Update: The Senate Amendment to increase the youth funding to $4 million did not pass but the $2.5 million for youth is still in the Senate budget which is $.5 million over last year’s funding (and $1.5m over the House Budget).  Debate is still underway about language ensuring a Youth Commission.

New Youth Housing in Northampton:  Lisa announced the great news of the purchase of youth housing in Northampton.  Click here for the flyer.

Next Meeting Date: Wed., July 5, 10 am – 11:30 am, Holyoke Public Library  



Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting Minutes – 4/12/17

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee Meeting Minutes
April 12, 2017

In attendance: Jesus Arce, City of Springfield, Jenny Davila, CHD Safety Zone, Courtnee Godbout, Friends of the Homeless, Lisa Goldsmith, DIAL/SELF,  Jay Levy, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services,  Jose Lopez-Figueroa, STCC, Kim Majewski, Gandara Center, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Jean Rogers, CHD, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Daisy Vera, YWCA Youth Build

Program updates:
Three County: numbers of youth seeking support are rising across both sub-regions (Berkshires; Franklin/Hampshire), a testimony to the combination of the need that is out there and the outreach that is ongoing.
Currently working with 105 people, including partners and children.
9 youth have subsidies; 35 are in process.
89 are 18-25 years old, 16 are under 18 (presumably children of parenting youth)
Click here for the Three County’s Youth Program Quarterly Report to EOHHS.

Hampden County: Acquired 8 new apartments in March, now leasing 13 apartments with 15 participants, all of whom are either working or going to school.
26 students are on the wait list for apartments but are currently actively engaged; one youth utilized a host home last month but is not in the transitional housing program; SHINE’s Transitional Housing program has all 8 beds filled but with funding ending at the end of Sept., plans are afoot for transitioning the youth to stable housing. Federally funded Rapid Rehousing program is also fully running – 8 apartments with 8-10 youth.
Click here for Hampden County’s Youth Program Quarterly Report to EOHHS.

FY18 State Budget Update
Pamela reported on the House Ways and Means budget that was released 2 days ago. It did not include funding for the youth program (similar situation last year) but an amendment is being filed by Rep. Jim O’Day to restore funding. The Network Leadership Council met yesterday and decided youth funding was its top priority. Pamela is communicating with our region’s legislators now on this and urging their co-sponsorship of this (and other) amendments.

2017 Hampden County Point in Time Count: (Click  here for the report)
0 unaccompanied homeless youth under 18
141 homeless youth 18-24 years
— 35 non-parenting youth – 25 in shelter (Friends of the Homeless, Samaratin Inn, Rescue Mission), 10 living on the streets
–106 parenting youth

The number of homeless youth has dropped 51% since the 2015 count, driven primarily by closing hotels.  Trend data has limited meaning because of the state system and the fact that a percentage of families are placed in this region but are from other parts of the state.

The more meaningful number is the number of non-parenting, unsheltered youth – that number was 4 in 2013 and is 10 in 2017, a function of the greater outreach taking place across the community.

Parenting youth:
79% female
21% male
71% latina
18% black
9% non-Hispanic white
2% other

Non-parenting youth:
49% female
51% male
57% latino
23% black
17% non-Hispanic White
3% other

It was noted that it would be useful to compare this breakdown with census data. Gerry will look into that.

Lisa will follow-up with Andrea and Dave of the Three County CoC to ask for Three County Point in Time Count data.

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Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting Minutes – 2/15/17

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting
February 15, 2017

In attendance: Jesus Arce, Springfield Office of Housing, Katrina Colon, STCC, Jenny Davila, CHD, Courtnee Godbolt, Friends of the Homeless, Lisa Goldsmith, DIAL/SELF, Rebecca Guinard, STCC, Natalie Hill, Gandara Center, Charlie Knight, Rainville, Kim Majewski, Gandara Center, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Jen Wands, Springfield Public Schools

Gandara Center Update (Hampden County CoC):
All rapid rehousing units full – 18 young adults living in apartments (subsidized for one year with slow reduction in subsidy as young adults raise their income)
1 youth in host home; 3 openings (predictably under-utilized due to nature of arrangement)
SHINE transitional housing (8 units; HUD funding ends September 30)
4 more units coming on line once additional state funding finalized

Discussion of program orientation: increasing income vs. increasing education. The group discussed the trade-off of short-term vs. long-term sustainability as the focus of the RRH program is on building economic self-sufficiency as opposed to attaining higher education. Right now, the program is primarily focused on employment in order to meet the immediate demand of housing costs.   We agreed that it would be worthwhile to focus on the question of whether there are ways to navigate this tension in order to support long-term economic gain. We will pick up this topic at the next meeting.

Point in Time Count:
Gandara coordinated 2 events, one at STCC and the other at Dunbar High School. Due to some administrative barriers at STCC, very little notice was provided. 15 or 16 individuals came to the event and just a couple met the criteria of homeless. The Dunbar event had fewer people and unclear whether anyone met the criteria.

CHD coordinated an event at HCC with 19 people attending and 2 meeting the criteria of homelessness.

DIAL/SELF Update (3 County):
The program is currently working with 75 people; 15 are being actively subsidized across the region, including Northampton, Easthampton, Greenfield, etc. Berkshire County is gearing up with a full-time staff person. There is an Americorp volunteer providing additional support to case managers.

Subsidies are provided as a stabilization resource for 3-6 months. Participants can apply to have subsidies renewed at the end of 3 months. This has occurred a few times thus far.

Statewide Demonstration Project Work Group:
Lisa provided an update on the group’s progress. The survey of all the projects is almost done and the information looks good so far. The next meeting is on March 3, where they will consider how to distribute the information. The intention is to use this document as an advocacy tool to better inform legislators about the impact of the program.

We agreed that our data collection and analysis are critical to understanding the program’s efficacy. We will pick up this topic at the next meeting with Gerry’s draft template.

Family Homelessness Retreat Update:
Pamela reported on the family homelessness retreat that took place on Tuesday, 2/14 at UMass Springfield. 35 people attended from across the four counties and many cross-sectors of service (housing, health care, child care providers; state agencies). The group agreed to move forward with a “surge event” for providers to better understand the services that are available to respond to families in housing crisis. We will be continuing this planning at our next family services meeting on 3/14.

Schools update:
Jen Wand of Springfield public schools reported that there are currently 955 homeless students in the public school system; 20 are unaccompanied homeless youth, although this number is widely acknowledged to be under-counted. Springfield schools has just stared a youth mentor program with Behavioral Health Network. In Holyoke, Rebecca Chavierri reported that Holyoke schools have counted 8 students as unaccompanied homeless youth but this is also understood to be an undercount.

Next meeting: Wed., March 15, 9:30 am, Gandara Center, 1236 Main Street, Holyoke

Agenda items:

  • Data template review (what do we want to know to evaluate the programs’ success and challenges and to better understand the population the programs are serving)
  • Discussion of rapid re-housing program balancing of goals between employment (immediate income) and higher education (longer-term higher income/job satisfaction)

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee – 1/18/17

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee
January 18, 2017

In attendance: Jesus Arce, City of Springfield, Katrina Colon, STCC, Lisa Goldsmith, DIAL/SELF, Natalie Kyles, Gandara, Jose Lopez-Figueroa, STCC, Kim Majewski, Gandara, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Jean Rogers, CHD, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Rhonda Young, CHD

Project Updates:
Three County CoC:
Involved with 44 people (young people and family members)
11 youth currently have subsidies
24 youth have applications in process

Berkshire County staff person started last Monday
Data systems now integrated with HMIS

Hampden County CoC:
Rapid rehousing: full at 18 slots
HUD did not refund transitional housing program of 8 beds (SHINE) – as of now funding remains through September. Will appeal.
Additional state funds will allow for 2 unit expansion.

Demonstration Work Group: Lisa noted that this statewide commission work group is meeting this Friday in Worcester to talk about the EOHHS youth demonstration project, specifically how to capture best practices and impact (in effect demonstrate its effectiveness). She will keep us posted.

Point in Time Count: Next Wed., 1/25. HUD is asking for focus on youth count.

Hampden County: doing outreach events in Hampden County (Dunbar, HCC, possibly STCC) – will have incentive gift cards; booklet on youth resources; online survey so youth can complete by interview or online. Gerry will provide Facebook and Twitter links to events.

Three County: reaching out to local municipal offices to seek info about young people who may be homeless. They adapted the survey to stay away from word “homeless” (in response to youth feedback). Also utilizing gift cards. Will work to get the survey online. Focusing on provider outreach.

State youth count is also happening – in early May. No further information at this time. The group expressed its frustration at this timing in view of seasonal shelters closing end of April. This feedback has been provided multiple times to no avail.

HUD Youth Pilot Project Application: Hampden County CoC was not awarded. It was a very competitive process and the only New England award went to the entire state of CT (in general, each of the 10 awards went to very large geographic areas).

However, the CoC will still move forward with aspects of the proposal, including the creation of a Youth Advisory Group and additional youth planning. Gerry advised that she will be hiring a staff person to assist with CoC work and these items will be included in the new hire’s job description.

FY18 Budget Priorities:
The group discussed its FY18 state budget priorities to bring to the upcoming Network Leadership Council meeting on 2/9. The group agreed to recommend the same priorities as last year, that is:

  • Youth program funding (will confer with Mass Coalition for the Homeless on ask but at minimum will seek continuation of the $2 million appropriation)
  • Home and Health for Good (LGBTQ youth funding) – will confirm amount
  • RAFT funding for expanded eligibility to include individuals (family services committee also endorsed this

Data Review and Discussion: The group agreed that our data collection/evaluation would use current federal reporting requirements as a starting point to streamline and maximize existing data work. Kim provided Gandara Center’s Annual Performance Report (APR) (HUD required) as a springboard for discussion. Gerry talked us through the raw data in the report.  She noted that HUD distills all this raw data to evaluate outcomes based on 7 performance measures:

  • Are there more or less homeless individuals over the course of a year compared to last year?
  • At the Point in Time Count are there more or less people being counted as homeless?
  • Have we reduced length of time people are homeless?
  • Have we improved the number of people who leave homelessness to enter permanent housing?
  • Has income increased over the course of the year for people experiencing homelessness?
  • Have people returned to homelessness

Looking at these measures helps to answer the question of whether we have increased the effectiveness of the system as a whole. We agreed we should rely on HUD’s decades of experience and use these performance measures to evaluate our progress.=

Gerry will draw up a template for us to consider at the next meeting.
Next meeting: Wed., 2/15, 10:00-11:30 am,
91 School Street, after Springfield school liaison meeting