Category Archives: Unaccompanied Homeless Youth

Webinar Invite: Landlord Recruitment/Engagement – Best Practices [Zero 2016]

As part of Zero 2016, Community Solutions is offering a webinar series on best practices for recruiting and engaging landlords. With our widespread use of rapid rehousing and tenant-based permanenent supportive housing models, we need to be sure that we are engaging and supporting our landlord partners. The webinars will present best practices from communities with successful models.

Please feel free to join one or more of the calls:

Module 1: Building Local Infrastructure (a.k.a. Building the Runway)

Module 2: Sharing Effective Outreach Strategies 1 (Mayor-Led Events, Outreach to Large, Medium, Small Companies)

Module 3: Sharing Effective Outreach Strategies 2 (Outreach to Apartment Rental Associations, Faith Communities, Civic Organizations, Real Estate Agents, Working with a local PHA)


  • Phone Number: 646-661-2933
  • Meeting Room Code: 1413051
  • Participant Access Code provided in a pop-up window when you enter the virtual room

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting Minutes – 7/16/15

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee Meeting Minutes
July 16, 2015

In attendance: Lynnette Camacho, Springfield Public Schools, Lisa Goldsmith, Dial/SELF, Rani Gould, YWCA, Charlie Knight, former consumer, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS – Homeless Services, Kim Majewski, Gandara Center, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Jennifer Wand, Springfield Public

FY16 budget news:

Great news for unaccompanied homeless youth! The Conference Committee allocated $2 million to support housing and support services for unaccompanied homeless youth. The budget also included $150,000 to support the Special Commission. And Franklin County’s LGBTQ Housing First program also received continued funding.

A huge thanks to our fabulous Western MA delegation for their terrific support!

Youth Count info

We noted that the youth count/survey data of January has not yet been released by DHCD. Lisa said she heard that it may be released soon.

The W. MA Opening Doors Plan Strategies Review

We reviewed the data and the strategies listed for this population (see p. 24). Jay noted a missing strategy:   develop additional housing options for youth (was it so obvious that we missed it?!). It shall be added.

We agreed to focus initial efforts on Coordinated Entry. We established that similar to what is happening in the veterans committee, we need a referral/intake form that allows for an “any door” quick determination of where the youth needs to be referred.

Lisa volunteered to be the point person on creating this tool, working together with Rani, Jean and Kim.

We agreed that ultimately our coordinated entry system will include this efficient referral flow for every sub-population – veteran, individual, family, youth, elder – and be available at every door for every population.

We will review the draft tool at our next meeting.

We also agreed to review the current youth tools available for prioritization of housing and support services. Pamela is in the process of tracking down a tool that came to her attention. We will review these tools at our next meeting.

We also discussed the need to better coordinate with DESE around their school data. Pamela will follow-up with Heidi of Simtech Solutions who ha discussed at our last meeting reaching out to DESE to learn more about possible linkages. Springfield school liaisons Lynnette and Jennifer noted that they are entering data into a DESE system on a regular basis, and that schools have a great need for the kind of referral tool we are creating.

Lisa offered a framing of our various strategies in 3 different categories:

  1. Coordinated entry
  2. Data collection
  3. Resources – housing, employment, support services

We may want to look at our strategies in that context as we move forward in the creation of a workplan.

We discussed that we will work on simultaneous tracks of building a work plan for the year over the next few months (including our “take-down targets” for reducing the numbers of homeless youth) while moving forward immediately on implementation.

Next meeting:

Wed., 8/19, 9:30-11:00, Northampton Senior Center

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee Minutes – 6/17/15

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee
June 17, 2015

In attendance: Dawn DiStefano, Heidi Gold, Simtech Solutions, Lisa Goldsmith, Dial/SELF, Jean Rogers, Safety Zone, CHD, Diana McLean, City of Westfield, Pamela Schwartz, Network

 Draft Western MA Opening Doors Plan Review (click here)

  • Point in Time Count numbers for homeless youth need to be checked and corrected (e.g., Three County CoC youth number was in accurate – listed as 0, when 25 – will also cross check number for Hampden County)
  • Discussed inclusion of “youth parents” – those unaccompanied homeless youth under the age of 25 who are also parents of children. We agreed that targeting this population was also important and that strategies for this population should be included in the “family strategies” section.
  • We agreed the Plan should include the state Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) numbers of homeless youth. They are counted differently than the HUD definition – DESE includes “doubled-up” as homeless – so while they cannot be integrated into PIT count, our Plan should account for the fact that this data exists and provides an additional view of this population.
  • Another strategy to consider is breaking down the current barrier posed by DESE around gaining access to the schools for the PIT count. While some advances were made around that this past year, greater access and collaboration are needed to maximize getting both in and out of school youth in the annual count.
  • We discussed the various HMIS systems as it intersects with the Runaway Homeless Youth (RHY) HMIS system. The RHY is in the process of being integrated into the HMIS system – we agreed that this needs to be spelled out in the strategy section that refers to RHY and HMIS so it is comprehensible to the lay reader. It was also noted that RHY data goes straight from the local community to the federal agency requiring it; the state is nowhere in this data loop.
  • We discussed the multiple barriers to good data that exist across the system. For instance, Dawn shared how data is collected on the domestic violence beds at the YWCA that are funded by DCF. DCF only collects data on intakes and exits on a monthly basis. Right now there is no way of understanding the state systems clients used prior to entry into this one; and where are they re-entering the system after this one). The YWCA uses the HMIS system called Client Track.
  • Consider stating explicitly as a strategy (in every sub-population!) “enhancing coordination and collaboration among all state agency and non-profit providers.” It was noted that the homeless youth population intersect with so many state agencies; this point of collaboration is especially critical.
  • Add strategy of prioritization of the population for placement. Adopt a release of information that all providers can use for this purpose.
  • Heidi said she will get the matrix of providers that Andrea put together and share that with everyone.

Next meeting: Thursday, July 16, 11 am – 12:30 pm, Northampton Senior Center to be confirmed (not our usual day due to vacation schedules)

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting Minutes – 3/11/15

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee
March 11, 2015

In attendance: Lisa Goldsmith, Dial/SELF; Rani Gould, YWCA, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Jean Rogers, CHD, Pamela Schwartz, Network

Governor’s Budget Update: We reviewed Mass. Budget and Policy Center’s and Mass Law Reform Institute’s budget analyses and neither contained reference to unaccompanied homeless youth funding. Mass. Coalition for the Homeless had not yet released their analysis by the time of our meeting. We will keep everyone updated as soon as we learn more about whether the unaccompanied homeless youth initiative received any funding.

Youth Count and Survey Update: We are still waiting on DHCD to return the entered data from the surveys that were submitted. Hampden County collected 327 surveys (fantastic job, Lizzy and all!). Unclear on the Three County count (Pamela will follow-up with Dave). Pamela will email Rose at DHCD to find out who is in charge of the youth survey data compilation. Since Liz Rogers left DHCD, it is unclear.

Lizzy discussed how her interaction with Putnam High School in Springfield via the youth count has led to regular interactions with homeless youth there; the guidance counselor reaches out to Lizzy and Lizzy in turn provides information and connections to services and benefits to the youth. It’s a wonderful relationship with the school and also only underscores the gap in services that exist to the extent that Lizzy’s outreach is the only reason such services are available.

VI-SPDAT discussion: Lisa noted that it is difficult to use this tool with youth and at minimum it must be used in comparison with other youth. We all expressed interest in understanding more about the tool and if/how it has been applied to the youth population. There were also questions about the VI-SPDAT release form – how to share information between providers. Pamela will inquire about these questions and report back.

We also discussed the data challenges between the federal and state systems – how the HMIS must be connected to the RHYMIS system (Runaway Homeless Youth Management Information System) – and how this challenge has been going and is still unmet.

Pamela said she would touch base with Matt and Andrea (working on our regional Opening Doors Plan) to gain any insight about how to meet this barrier of data sharing.

Lisa reported that she spoke with Liz Rogers who is now at Father Bill’s in the South Shore. Father Bill’s is seeing a noticeable increase in the youth population. They are not a youth oriented facility although they apply “youth protocol” (e.g., more flexibility about hours, allowance of cell phones and keeping their same beds), but they are acutely aware of the need for more housing options for this population.

We discussed the data challenges between the federal and state systems – how the HMIS must be connected to the RHYMIS system (Runaway Homeless Youth Management Information System) – and how this challenge has been going and is still unmet.

Next meeting: Wednesday, 4/8 10 am 417 Liberty Street – special guest Danielle Ferrier from Youth Harbors who will discuss her work in the schools with homeless youth.