Category Archives: Unaccompanied Homeless Youth

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.


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.


Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting – 1/13/15

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee Meeting Minutes
January 13, 2016

In attendance: Jesus Arce, City of Springfield, Pam Cook, Gandara Center, Dawn DiStefano, Square One, Lisa Goldsmith, Dial/SELF, Charlie Knight, SCARF/Rainville, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Kim Majewski, Gandara Center, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Rebecca Muller, Grantworks, Denise Rivera, Friends of the Homeless, Jean Rogers, CHD, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Alicia Stacy, YWCA, Mark Watkins, Gandara Center

Reviewed Point in Time Count youth outreach sheet:

Thanks to Andrea Miller for collating tips and creating outreach sheet (click here).

One edit: change bullet of “have other resources to hand out if the youth wants them, regardless of whether they participate in the count” to ”Distribute information on local resources.” Pamela will relay to Andrea.

Discussion of EHSS RFR:
EHHS has released an RFR (due 2/2) that will utilize the $2 million allocated for the youth services and housing in the FY16 budget. The RFR allows for up to 5 grants and requires that urban, rural and suburban regions are funded. An application must be paired with the larger coordinated entry application (3-5 grants, allocating $900,000 statewide) for the region.

The group discussed the issue of whether the Network would apply as the lead agency (via its fiscal sponsor United Way of Pioneer Valley) or whether 2 CoC’s would apply separately. The coordinated entry issue suggests CoC specific applications since the coordinated entry systems are being built separately as a result of the distinct populations and large geography across the sub-regions. Since the youth application must mirror the coordinated entry application for the geographic region, we may be compelled to do two separate applications for the youth piece. However, the CoC’s with Network support can collaborate on the applications to ensure a coordinated approach across the region.

A bidders’ conference on 1/15 will help answer a lot of questions about the best direction. United Way and CoC’s will be represented there.

We want to make sure we use the Network role and reputation in support of whatever we do. We want to make sure that we incorporate the regional flow of youth across the entire region in each application (assuming there are 2) and build systems that talk to teach other.

Community Action of Franklin/Hampshire and the Quabbin has expressed interest in being the lead applicant in the Three County CoC. They will be investigating further as well.

The RFR seeks focus on reaching the at-risk population further “upstream” – prevention and diversion. We need to identify the gaps and how we close them.

Other brainstorm ideas:

  • Consider funding a youth coordinator who serves as the designated liaison to resources and information and who has access to the flexible funds.
  • Explore more strategies about how to re-connect youth 18 and older with their families.
  • Explore more about the host home model and mentoring programs.
  • Connect more with (and possibly help build) Berkshire based youth programs, e.g., Reconnect Center in Pittsfield.
  • Integrate street outreach and coordinated assessment across each county (Dial/SELF now has funding to do street outreach in Hampshire)
  • Frame our “no wrong door” approach to triage case management across the region while at the same time developing expertise and centralized knowledge that agencies can draw on
  • Develop standard assessment tools and basis for distributing resources
  • Develop and utilize “natural” youth supports (as opposed to a volunteer inserting him/herself suddenly in a young person’s life); need to draw on and nurture pre-existing relationships

We will continue this conversation via email following the bidders’ conference this Friday.

Network FY17 Budget Priorities:

Pamela summarized the Network process for determining its FY17 budget priorities, which includes each committee making recommendations for Leadership Council consideration. The Leadership Council will review and vote at its next meeting on 1/20. These priorities will define the Network advocacy for the FY17 budget cycle.

Support funding for youth housing and related support services for $4 million. This priority is shared by MA Coalition for the Homeless and is a “repeat ask” from last fiscal year (which resulted in $2 million in funding). The Committee recognizes that the need continues and would like to see the full funding needed to meet the need.

Support Home and Healthy for Good for $3.8 million, a program that provides permanent supportive housing for the chronically homeless, including a program for LGBTQ unaccompanied homeless youths, one of which is funded in Franklin County through Dial/SELF.   This priority is shared by CHAPA and MA Coalition for the Homeless.

Unanimous support for both legislative priorities.

Next meeting: Wed., Feb. 10, 9:30 am – 11 am, location to be determined (Gandara Center is not available then; will check with Northampton Senior Center).