Category Archives: Unaccompanied Homeless Youth

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.

EOHHS RFR Update:

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)

Springfield/Hampden County Funding Opportunities for Homeless Service Providers

There are several open funding opportunities for Springfield-Hampden County providers, as described below.

Opportunities Related to the EOHHS RFR

The Springfield-Hampden County Continuum of Care, through its fiscal agency the City of Springfield, has released two Requests for Proposals, seeking organizations to carry out homelessness prevention/rapid rehousing activities. The CoC’s funding of these activities is contingent on the CoC being awarded funds in response to its application to the Commonwealth’s recent RFR. The CoC RFPs were released Feb. 8, 2016, and responses are due back to the City of Springfield Office of Procurement March 4, 2016 by 2 pm.

  1. Administration of Flexible Funds for Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Rehousing  The CoC seeks one to three experienced agencies to administer flexible funds for homelessness prevention and rapid rehousing. The agencies will serve as a pass-through for these funds, and there is no funding available for staff. Agencies will receive 5% of funds awarded for administrative costs related to administration of the program, Agencies must have a plan to cover/provide intake for the flexible funds in Chicopee, Holyoke, Westfield and Springfield, as well as for victims of domestic violence–this can be done through partnerships with other agencies that will serve as Intake Agencies.
  2. Homeless Youth Initiative The CoC seeks one to three experienced agencies to operate housing stabilization, homelessness diversion and rapid rehousing for youth aged 18-24. The specific activities the CoC seeks are: employment of a Youth Stabilization Specialist; administration of flexible funds to prevent youth homelessness; operation of a Kinship Care program; employment of a Youth Rehousing Specialist, and operation of a rapid rehousing program for youth.

Springfield Emergency Solutions Grant Program

The City of Springfield has released a Request for Proposals seeking providers to operate activities under the federal Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) program. Eligible activities include homelessness prevention, rapid rehousing, outreach services and operating support for existing emergency shelter. ESG funds are provided to the City to serve Springfield residents. This RFP was released February 1, 2016 and responses are due back to the Office of Housing, 1600 E. Columbus Ave., Springfield, on March 1, 2016 by noon. The RFP may be picked up in the City of Springfield Office of Housing, or may be obtained by email by a request to Gerry McCafferty.