Category Archives: Uncategorized

Ken Demers

It is with great sadness I write to announce the death of Ken Demers, the Executive Director of Berkshire Works.  Ken was a long-time member of the Network’s Leadership Council and founding partner of the highly successful Western Massachusetts’ Secure Jobs program for homeless families while serving as Vice-President of Employment and Training at Corporation of Public Management.

Ken’s life-long commitment to helping people both in his work and his community was a gift to all who knew and worked with him.  His kind and generous spirit, his sense of humor, his unwavering determination to make good things happen for the people he served and the people with whom he worked made him a true inspiration for us all. He will be sorely missed.

His obituary and service details can be found here:

Our hearts are with his family.

Hampden County CoC 2013 NOFA Release and Update

Hampden County Continuum of Care

Ending homelessness one person at a time

2013 HUD Continuum of Care NOFA

There are significant changes in this year’s CoC NOFA, and this message highlights major changes. There will be more information to follow, particularly for existing providers, the CoC Application Committee, and providers interested in applying for new funds.
Funding for New Projects Unclear
It is not immediately clear whether we will be able to fund any new projects this year.  The NOFA states that there are no bonus projects this year, and that the only funding that will be available for new projects in a CoC is if the CoC decides not to renew an existing project.  However, because our CoC is not spending its full pro rata allocation each year, there is a chance that we may still be able to fund new projects using these funds. I am hoping that HUD can give us guidance on this quickly, so that we will better understand the likelihood for new funding.  In addition, HUD is urging CoCs and providers to reconsider all existing programs and retool or terminate programs that are underperforming.  If the CoC decides not to fund, or not to fully fund, any existing projects, this could make funding available for new projects.
Limits on Types of New Projects
If we are able to apply for new funds, there are only two types of projects that are allowable: (1) Permanent Supportive Housing for chronically homeless families, and (2) Rapid Rehousing for families with children.
Existing Projects at Risk
The Hampden County CoC will seek $2.2 million in annual renewal funds for 16 programs that provide critically needed programs for homeless individuals and families.  We risk losing 5% of our grant–about $112,000–if we fail to meet minimum scoring criteria.  Loss of this amount of funds could result in our CoC losing one or more programs, because a number of programs have annual CoC-funded budgets less than this amount.
Two Funding Rounds in One Application
CoCs will submit a regular application for FY13 funds, and the scoring of that application will be used to determine the allocation of FY14 funds; the shortened FY14 competition will begin soon after Congress approves a budget. One thing this means for CoCs is that the score we obtain on our application will impact us for two funding rounds.
Emphasis on Chronic Homelessness & Housing First
HUD is strongly emphasizing the federal plan to end homelessness, and particularly the goal–and strategies–to end chronic homelessness by 2015.  Scoring this year includes strong encouragement for the CoC and its providers to:
  • Use all available PSH units (new units or turnover) for chronically homeless persons, even if the units are not dedicated for that population;
  • Operate at least 75% of all CoC programs as Housing First projects, which do not require sobriety or mental health treatment as a condition of acceptance; and
  • Demonstrate use of strategies that target assistance to the hardest to serve.
 New Performance Metrics
The performance of the CoC as a whole is being measured by new metrics, which evaluate our success in maintaining housing stability and increasing both earned income and income from benefits.  The standards are set high, and we do not currently meet them.  In order to score well on this application, we will need to create a plan to meet them.  Here are two new key metrics:
  • The CoC’s rate of housing stability–the number of participants currently in permanent housing or who have exited from our programs to permanent housing in the last year, divided by all program participants.  This metric strongly discourages transitional housing.
  • The rate at which CoC participants increase income between program entry to program exit.
Stay Tuned for More!
This year’s application will require significant collaborative planning and decision-making.  Please watch for more messages and meeting invitations.

Veteran Homelessness Updates/Action

Please see the link below for a new study on veteran homelessness by the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

And please read below to join the National Alliance to End Homelessness’ campaign to end veteran homelessness


Spotlight On…

Join the Alliance’s Never Another Homeless Veteran Campaign

This Veteran’s Day, the Alliance launched its Never Another Homeless Veteran Campaign. On any given night, more than 60,000 U.S. veterans are homeless. Veterans face unique obstacles in finding stable, safe housing. Skills learned in the military do not always match the needs of the civilian workplace. For veterans with combat-related injuries or mental-health conditions, finding and keeping housing can be especially difficult. At the same time, veterans face the same challenges as the rest of us: a critical shortage of affordable housing and stubbornly high unemployment.

Ending homelessness among veterans is an achievable goal. Veteran homelessness has declined nearly 17 percent since 2009, and with continued funding and support, we can reach a day where every veteran has secure housing. We know what it will take to get there, and we have a plan. Will you join the Alliance and its partners in working toward a day when no veteran is without a home?

Yes, I’ll sign the Never Another Homeless Veteran statement

Homes for Families Update on State Welfare Reform

Thanks to Homes for Families for the following update on Welfare Reform:

Welfare Reform

The welfare bill is in conference committee which will work out the final bill between now and some time in January. Had the bill been rushed through, we are certain it would have included some very harmful provisions. We now have the opportunity to improve the bill, but this will take ongoing efforts on our part. We have a lot of work to do through the Holidays.

The calls and contacts that you all made to legislators had an important and significant impact. Without your outreach, it is likely that a potentially harmful bill would likely have been rushed through committee. Thank you for everything you have done and will undoubtedly continue to do to ensure that our state passes responsible and effective welfare reform!

We will be in touch about next steps. In the meantime, it would be great to thank legislators who supported improvements to the bill and let them know you will be following up.