In attendance: Yoshi Bird, consultant, Waleska Estrada, NEFWC, Jill Fijal, Chicopee Public Schools, Holly Florek, CHD, Fran Lemay, ServiceNet, Andrea Marion, VOC, Heather Marshall, Elizabeth Freeman Center, Gerry McCafferty, Hampden CoC, Michelle Michaelian, BHN, Tony Motyl, CHD consultant, Marisabel Perez, CHD, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Janna Tetreault, Community Action, Anthony Thomas, Springfield Partners for Community Action, Janette Vigo, Way Finders, Lauren Voyer, Way Finders, Melissa White, VOC

Announcement of Youth Homelessness Demonstration Project (and how it may relate to the EA RFR):

Gerry McCafferty announced HUD’s award of $2.4 million to the Hampden CoC and $1.9 million to the Three County CoC (for Franklin County) to address youth homelessness (ages 18-24).  This is an extraordinary accomplishment for our region!  It is part of HUD’s Youth Homelessness Demonstration Project (YHDP) which will fund a combination of permanent supportive housing, transitional housing and rapid rehousing.  Rapid rehousing can include staffing and financial support for at least 2 years and with waivers up to 3.  The planning process is underway now with an initial draft due to HUD by 12/29, then time to finalize with HUD, so program funding expected to start by next summer.   It will total roughly $1.2 million yearly over the next 2 years – and then the funding gets incorporated into the renewal fund process within the CoC.

Parenting youth ages 18-24 will comprise a target population of this grant and could intersect directly with planning around the state’s RFR. Gerry will be reaching out to family shelter providers to participate in the planning process for the grant and this resource can be incorporated into our innovation planning as well.

Discussion of EA RFR Innovation Section:
DHCD’s RFR includes a request for “innovations.”  It is allocating $2 million statewide for this pool of funding and may include innovative proposals to reduce length of stay, reduce returns to homelessness and improve family stability.  DHCD’s examples include landlord mitigation funds, flexible funds and increased case management where appropriate to maintain stability.

Our region currently has 5 EA providers – Way Finders, NEFWC, CHD, VOC and ServiceNet – and all 5 affirmed their desire to collaborate on a joint proposal if possible.
We brainstormed the following ideas:

  • use coordinated entry – a shared assessment tool and by-name list across each sub-region – to target long staying families and determine how best to allocate additional funds to extend housing subsidies past the one year HomeBASE period (through YHDP and/or other CoC funds) 
  • establish a landlord mitigation/incentive fund that would be utilized to preserve and obtain tenancies
  • extend the Secure Jobs model by funding an outreach worker to reach out to families across the system (via every provider) and establishing a flex fund pool to support the path to employment

Also considered was how the “system navigator” (new position in the RFR) may fit into these innovations and whether the housing search component could be shared (e.g., a “realtor” equivalent staff person that would do new landlord recruitment across the sub-region)

The group discussed the allocation of funding across the region and whether it would make the most sense to divide the total amount sought among the providers so each provider would have a portion to manage in a coordinated fashion.

The group agreed to return to their organizations with these ideas and talk further internally.  We agreed on a next meeting date on this topic only: Tuesday, September 24, 11 am – 12:30 pm, Frost Building, 309, HCC. 

Other training updates:

Next regularly scheduled meeting: Tuesday, October 8, 11 am – 12:30 pm, Frost Building, Room 309, Holyoke Community College