Category Archives: Unaccompanied Homeless Youth

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


Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting Minutes – 12/14/16

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee
December 14, 2016

In attendance: Katrina Colon, STCC, Lisa Goldsmith, DIAL/SELF, Charlie Knight, former consumer, Rebecca Guimond, STCC, Kim Majewski, Gandara Center, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield/Hampden County CoC, Peter Miller, City of Westfield, Jean Rogers, CHD, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Janna Teatreault, Community Action, Jennnifer Wallace-Johnson, STCC, Jen Wands, Springfield Public Schools, Kathy West, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Rhonda Young, CHD 

Youth Program Reports:
Hampden County:  Rapid Rehousing program (EOHHS funds) has leased 15 apartments housing 18 young adults (2 2 BR apts). Referrals have increased since last quarter, now working with close to 50 young people. Host homes are not currently being utilized but there is capacity for 4 young people. Additional state funds are anticipated which will allow for 2 more housing units.

Three County: Berkshire Regional Housing Authority has now hired a full-time staff person to serve homeless youth, starting in January. In most recent month, the program provided subsidies for 9 youth – 4 in Hampshire, 3 in Franklin, 2 in Berkshires – and engaged with 27 other young people.

Data Collection and Analysis Discussion:
The group looked first at the EOHHS quarterly report form (see attached) as a starting point for discussing what would be useful for our region to review and obtain to best assess programmatic impact and impacts. The group determined that while the data requested by EOHHS will continue to be provided to the best of each program’s ability, it does not meet our needs. The group agreed that:

  • Data needs to be reported both by quarter and cumulatively to be able to track a youth’s progress across quarters and ultimately annually
  • Definitions need to be clarified, e.g., outreach (by program to youth on street or once contacted?), youth who are parenting (including those not living with their child or just those with their child), etc.
  • It would be important to collect the outcome numbers of the number of youth who secured stable housing and the number of youth who maintained that housing and the type of assistance provided in each case (not currently asked)
  • We should rely on HUD’s current indicators such as length of homelessness, return to homelessness, increase in income and employment, etc. Gerry noted that all of this information is in HUD’s Annual Performance Report so that we should not need to reinvent this wheel. Gandara’s program is in HMIS, but DIAL/SELF is not yet, which makes this integration with HUD data more challenging at the moment.
  • Lisa will bring back this discussion to the Special Commission’s Demonstration Project Work Group (includes all EOHHS grantees) which should be meeting sometime in January.

The group agreed at its next meeting it would review the APR to further determine its application to this Committee’s data needs. Kim will provide.

Hampden County CoC Youth Homelessness Project Application:
Gerry reported that the Hampden County CoC submitted its application to HUD to be selected as one of 10 sites nationwide for a youth homelessness pilot project. As part of the application, it committed to creating a youth advisory board, which it will create regardless of application outcome. As part of the application process, with Rebecca Muller’s’ help, the CoC convened 6 focus groups with youth, engaging over 30 young people. More than 10 of them are interested in being part of the advisory committee and will be trained by youth leaders from the Special Commission. Special thanks to Rebecca Muller for her voluntary assistance with this effort.

State Commission update:
Lisa reported on the Demonstration project work group, which will be convening in January. And reported that the LGBTQ Commission is also working with its population around youth homelessness and is seeking provider input about how best to inform its policy work. Please contact Lisa to provide your feedback.

Point in Time Count: It is Wed., January 25. HUD has requested special emphasis on identifying homeless youth, so additional efforts will be made this January (alongside the annual state led count in May). Gerry raised the question of whether it is possible to do outreach in January through community colleges and whether it’s possible to retain youth ambassadors with a stipend. STCC volunteered to do an event. Gerry will schedule a meeting with all youth partners; please contact her if you can participate. Gandara will reach out to the youth it is currently serving to help them reach others for the count. Three County will continue to work outreach on their service-provider model as well as reach out to police and selectboards. We discussed using the Network to reach out to GCC to better understand how we can gain their participation. Pamela will follow-up with Lisa on this.

STCC update: The group welcomed STCC to the committee. Their office, Center for Access Services, is explicitly available as a resource center to connect students to community resources and meet non-academic barriers. Their mission includes serving students experiencing or at risk of homelessness. We look forward to growing this partnership!

January meeting. Wed., 1/18, 9:30-11, Gandara Center, subject to confirmation.