Hampden County Individual Services Meeting – 10/8/19

In attendance: Grechar Aquino, FOH-CSO, Jessica Dorman, Mercy Medical, Fina Full-Kay, City of Springfield, John Fisher, Way Finders, Dave Havens, Mental Health Association, Sarah Hills, Eliot CHS, Janice Humason, FOH-CSO, Mark Jachym, FOH/CSO, Nichole King – FOH-CSO, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield/Hampden CoC, Lizzy Ortiz, Mercy Medical, Christina Ruest, FOH/CSO, Denise Rivera-Nunez, FOH/CSO, Keith Rhone, FOH/CSO, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Rosemary Surdyka, Mercy Medical, Stephanie Tonelli, FOH/CSO, Catherine Torres, FOH/CSO, Kathy West, Eliot CHS, Delphine Wray, FOH/CSO, Chris Zabik, DMH

Built for Zero Update: Their quarterly conference is coming up (this time in Denver) October 21 – 23 – Hampden County team will be attending. The conference will focus on case-conferencing and coordinated entry – looking forward to reporting back. Currently Hampden County’s by-name list of chronically homeless individuals has approximately 80 people on it and last year the CoC re-housed 110 people. Hampden County is doing a great job on “outflow” (rehousing people, essentially turning over the list each year); the dominant challenge is the “in-flow” – the number of people entering homelessness. The CoC also has a BFZ “coach” named Eddie Turner who will come out here this Spring to discuss and brainstorm the “in-flow” challenge.

The CoC is working closely with the major housing authorities – Springfield, Chicopee and Holyoke. Springfield and Chicopee both applied for more Section 811 “mainstream housing vouchers” (for non-elderly disabled individuals). If both applications are fully funded, there would be 70 new mainstream vouchers coming into the region (note: Holyoke Housing Authority does not do Mainstream vouchers because they are a “Moving to Work” HA with more flexibility around how to use their vouchers and they have put 15 vouchers aside for homelessness priority and will do so again as of Jan. 1). These housing authority partnerships are critical. Continuing outreach afoot with West Springfield and Westfield Housing Authorities.

Additional work happening on outreach to local hospital leadership to expand strategies on making the health care system even more active partners in homelessness prevention and re-housing work. Follow-up will likely focus on Springfield.

HMIS Capacity Building grant. The CoC received $150,000 over 2 years to support HMIS capacity building. It will be used to train point people and staff and will also be used to support the intersection of Trauma Informed Care (TIC) and quality data, i.e., how to improve data on exit destinations with a TIC model of inquiry and relationship building as well as view of physical space and lay-out. It will be interesting to see the findings.

MassHire meeting at FOH: MassHire Springfield and Holyoke met with FOH staff on Sept. 25 to discuss ways to build the relationship with FOH guests and better meet their employment needs. There was a good conversation on the barriers experienced by shelter guests and discussion of possible solutions, e.g., bringing resume work shops or general orientations to the shelter directly. Conversations will continue.

HUD Youth Homelessness Demonstration Project (YHDP):
Hampden County CoC and Three County CoC (for Franklin County) were each selected by HUD for a 2 year Youth Homelessness Demonstration Project (YHDP) – 23 grants nationwide and Western MA got two of them! – totaling $4.3 million ($2.4 for Hampden, $1.9 for Franklin). This is an extraordinary opportunity! The first stage is the planning process; the CoC’s must submit a proposed plan to HUD by 12/29/19. It will be followed by another four months of planning with HUD for a final plan approval by April, 2020. Funding for programs is slated to start by summer. The project will serve youth ages 13-24 years. The overall goal is to prevent and end youth homelessness through a coordinated prevention and response system. HUD expects youth to inform and lead the process every step of the way. Our CoCs each have a Youth Advisory Board (YAB) comprised of young people that will provide the foundation for youth involvement in this project.

Specific information gathering workshops will be held as follows:
Housing: Nov. 8, 9:30 am – 12:30 pm, UMass Springfield, Tower Square, 1500 Main Street, Springfield
Permanent Connections/mentoring: Nov. 22, 9:30 am – 12:30 pm, The Innovation Center, 276 Bridge Street, Springfield
Education/Employment: Dec. 13, 9:30 am – 12:30 pm, The Innovation Center, 276 Bridge Street, Springfield
Contact: Gerry McCafferty, gmccafterty@springfieldcityhall

Next meeting date: Tuesday, November 12, 1 pm – 2 pm, FOH, 755 Worthington Street, Springfield

Family Services Committee Meeting Minutes – 10/8/19

In attendance: Hillary Cronin, VA, Dawn DiStefano, SquareOne, Lisa Goldsmith, Community Action, Michele LaFleur, 3 County CoC, Heather Marshall, Elizabeth Freeman Center, Yeisie Mateo, DCF, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield/Hampden CoC, Rylee O’Brien, Baystate Pediatrics, Lizzy Ortiz, Mercy Medical Center, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Chad Surber, Baystate Pediatrics

HUD Youth Homelessness Demonstration Project (YHDP):
Hampden County CoC and Three County CoC (for Franklin County) were each selected by HUD for a 2 year Youth Homelessness Demonstration Project (YHDP) – 23 grants nationwide and Western MA got two of them! – totaling $4.3 million ($2.4 for Hampden, $1.9 for Franklin). This is an extraordinary opportunity! The first stage is the planning process; the CoC’s must submit a proposed plan to HUD by 12/29/19. It will be followed by another four months of planning with HUD for a final plan approval by April, 2020. Funding for programs is slated to start by summer. The project will serve youth ages 13-24 years. The overall goal is to prevent and end youth homelessness through a coordinated prevention and response system. HUD expects youth to inform and lead the process every step of the way. Our CoCs each have a Youth Advisory Board (YAB) comprised of young people that will provide the foundation for youth involvement in this project.

The group acknowledged that it was vitally important to get family shelter provider input on how to respond to the question of how the family shelter system is doing in responding to the needs of parenting and pregnant young adults who are experiencing homelessness; what is working well and what can work better. We agreed to hold a “focus group” style meeting for our next family services meeting. Pamela will survey the shelter providers on the best possible date (either 11/15 or 11/21, two dates that worked for people attending this meeting today).

Upcoming and ongoing YHDP dates:
Hampden County: large kick-off meeting is on October 11, 10 am – noon, Innovation Center, 376 Bridge Street, Springfield.

Specific information gathering workshops will be held as follows (locations to be determined)
Housing: Nov. 8, 9:30 am – 12:30 pm, UMass Springfield, Tower Square, 1500 Main Street, Springfield
Permanent connections/mentoring: Nov. 22, 9:30 am – 12:30 pm, The Innovation Center, 276 Bridge Street, Springfield
Education/Employment: Dec. 13, 9:30 am – 12:30 pm, The Innovation Center, 276 Bridge Street, Springfield

Contact: Gerry McCafferty, gmccafterty@springfieldcityhall.com

Three County CoC Planning:
The 3 County CoC is meeting the first and third Thursday of each month, 3-4:30 pm, Community Action Youth Programs,154 Federal Street, Greenfield. They are having a big working session on October 23, 2-5 pm, to discuss governance and vision statement, etc.

Contact to get involved in Franklin County YHDP: Lisa Goldsmith, lgoldsmith@communityaciton.us

Additional thoughts on the focus group: We will come prepared with HMIS data, e.g., this is what the data tells us about this population in shelter (how many, how long the stay, etc.). We will survey providers on the data they collect. We will provide prep in advance of the meeting.

3 County Data/Point in Time Count update:
Michele LaFleur is the new data manager at the 3 County CoC (with Community Action) and attended to inform people of the various newly created committees of the CoC (e.g., ranking and evaluation, performance outcomes, data, equity and inclusion, coordinated entry), as well as the upcoming point in time count.

Next meeting date: November 15, 9:30 am- 12 noon, Frost Building 309, Holyoke Community College

Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes – 9/26/19

In attendance: Mike Hagmaier, Soldier On, Justin Maynard, VA, Julie MacPhail, VA (social worker intern), Gerry McCafferty, Hampden CoC, Jesus Pereira, Holyoke Veterans, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Kate Sweetster-Owens, VA GPD

Updates:
Kate Sweetster-Owens is shifting positions from HUD-VASH in Springfield to GPD based in Leeds. She will still be the point person for the Network/CoC and will also stay connected to Springfield’s HUD VASH program until her position is filled.

New Solider On grant from the VA: Mike reported a new grant to provide up to 6 months of case management for people who are leaving GPD who are not VASH or SSVF eligible (and also people living in the community who came out of GPD). The grant will hire 2 full-time case managers for 2 years. It is targeting people who are over-income (therefore ineligible for other resources) but still in need of support services.

Soldier On also reported successful advocacy with MHSA on a $500,000 increase in the Home and Healthy for Good line-item. $100,000 will be used for case management for women’s permanent housing program for 15 units in Pittsfield.

Built for Zero update, and getting to “functional zero”: At the end of August, the Hampden CoC was down to 10 veterans on its by-name list. September saw 4 new veterans identified so now the list is up to 14. The CoC is consulting with the BFZ coach on how to increase prevention and ultimately how to sustain functional zero. One strategy is to focus more on street outreach. It was recommended to reach out to the VA (Jim Seney) around allocating more staff to outreach. Also recommended to talk with Matt Buckley at Soldier On who oversees SSVF and outreach. Gerry will follow-up.

Three County CoC update (from Keleigh Pereira via email): Current focus is to include the veterans list in the by-names effort and to engage providers in the newly established committee structure. Committees will start meeting over the last quarter of this year and then regularly in 2020. Soldier On is working with the CoC to arrange access to its data system. Gerry will follow-up with Mike to coordinate data sharing.

Non-VHA eligible vouchers: Northampton Housing Authority got the go-ahead on the 11 vouchers in July. Hampden County has referred 8 people – some are housed, others are in housing search. Unclear on Hampshire County’s vouchers. Pamela will connect Gerry and Steve to get updated.

On filling units:
Chapin Mansion may be down to 2 available units – expanded availability beyond veterans. Some challenges around screening process. Will continue conversation with VOC.
52 Maple Court – just renovated – transitional housing – now advertising
Vikings Landing – status unclear

Mainstream Housing Voucher applications: Great progress in housing authorities applying for these vouchers in 3 County region: Amherst, Northampton, Greenfield, Franklin Regional Housing Authorities all applied for a total of 45 vouchers. Springfield and Chicopee also applied for Hampden County.

Next meeting date: December 5, 9:30-11 am, Frost building 309

3 County Individual Services Meeting Minutes – 9/23/19

In attendance: Elizabeth Bienz, ServiceNet, Erin Forbush, ServiceNet, Michele LaFleur, Three County CoC, Jay Levy, Eliot Services, Luis Martinez, CHD, Katie Miernecki, Earl Miller, DMH, ServiceNet, Brooke Murphy, 3 County CoC, Lizzy Ortiz, Mercy Medical Center, Keleigh Pereira, Community Action/CoC, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Kate Shapiro, Network, Hayley Wood, Easthampton Council on Aging, Chris Zabik, DMH

Three County CoC Update:
The CoC convened its annual meeting on 9/20, confirming its Board and committee structure. CoC staff is now in place, including Brooke Murphy who will work on coordinated entry and other support, and Michele LaFleur, who will provide data support and analysis. HUD’s NOFA (the application for all homelessness program funding) will be finalized and submitted in the next few days – congratulations to Keleigh and the entire CoC!

The CoC was awarded $1.9 million in HUD funding for its Youth Homelessness Demonstration Project (YHDP) for Franklin County. This is a monumental achievement towards the effort of preventing and ending youth homelessness in Franklin County (and eventually the other 2 counties; Franklin County was the focus this time because they applied under the “rural” category and Franklin is the most rural and offered the greatest shot at winning the funding). Congratulations to all! The funding process begins with plan development over the next 4 months, working with the leadership of young people through the Youth Action Board. That plan is due at the end of December and then feedback with HUD is slated for the next 4 months with funding for programs aiming to start by next April.

Housing Authorities apply for Mainstream Vouchers: HUD made available a new round of “mainstream vouchers” (Section 811) for non-elderly disabled individuals (a critical resource for chronically homeless individuals). With CoC and municipal support, housing authorities in Northampton, Greenfield, Amherst, and Franklin Regional all applied. If funded, this will mean 45 new vouchers for the region, which will be a huge advance for the region’s affordable housing supply.

Coordinated Entry: meetings are ongoing; right now the assessment tool is available on the CoC page on Community Action’s website although a CoC only website is in formation (due to HUD requirements).

CHD update on Permanent Supportive Housing units: Units are coming on line and being filled in Greenfield, Millers Falls and Pittsfield.

Dial/SELF also has openings for it transitional and permanent housing program – 10 CoC-funded beds in total. Available to 18-24 year olds.

Shelter plus care vouchers are tentatively taken but due to tenuous situations, always open to referrals.

Elder homelessness training discussion: A sub-committee met to plan this training. Agreed on 3 parts, including prevention, re-housing and a possible pilot program to address specific needs facing elders experiencing homelessness. Earl Miller, Director of Recovery for DMH, suggested using DMH’s structure of community events to host this discussion (regular convenings across the region of 60-100 people). The group enthusiastically agreed this was a great idea. Earl will follow-up with the sub-committee.

Craig’s Doors: Jay Levy is on the Board (thank you, Jay!) and reported that interviews are underway to hire new staff. It is unclear when exactly the shelter will reopen but presumably sometime in November. This is great news.

Franklin County Regional Network is hosting a legislative breakfast for the entire community on October 18. Pamela will forward the invitation.

Next meeting dates:

Monday, November 18
1 pm – 2 pm
DMH Haskell Building, 2nd floor large conference room

Monday, December 9
1 pm – 2 pm
ServiceNet
21 Olander Drive, Board Room, Northampton

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting Minutes – 9/18/19

In attendance: Kim Borden, Berkshire Regional Housing Authority, Emily English, Gandara Center, Rosemary Fiedler, HCC, Leslie Fisher-Katz, Children’s Study Home, Lisa Goldsmith, Community Action, Charlie Knight, former consumer, Kara Knott, UMass, Amanda Lesnick, Gandara Center, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield/Hampden CoC, Spencer Moser, MCLA, Lizzy Ortiz, Mercy Medical Center, Jordan O’Connell, CHD,Aisha Pizarro, YWCA, Phil Ringwood, DIAL/SELF, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Jen Sutherland, Springfield Public Schools, Tyrese Tillman, CHD, Rhonda Young, CHD

Needs Assessments report-out:
We reviewed some central findings of both 3 County and Hampden County CoCs needs assessments on the youth population.  

For the 3 County report, please go here.
The Hampden County CoC has created a new youth homelessness website – go to http://undertheradarspringfield.org to get connected and to read its needs assessment go to: https://www.undertheradarspringfield.org/the-report


HUD awards Western MA $4.3 million for its Youth Homelessness Demonstration Projects (YHDP)! We celebrated this tremendous accomplishment for the region – out of 23 awards nationwide, Western MA got two of them!  Specifically, Hampden County received $2.4 million and Franklin County received $1.9 million. CONGRATULATIONS to all!

The first step:  each community must produce a broad, coordinated community PLAN to prevent and end youth homelessness that includes all systems (DCF, DYS, family shelter system, etc.). The draft must be presented to HUD by 12/29, then followed by a review and discussion and revisions with HUD before finalizing by the end of April. The plan will include a road map for allocating the funding to specific agencies to accomplish specific goals (e.g., rapid rehousing, PSH, transitional housing, support services).

The grants are for 2 years and the funding will be divided over that time.  Whatever goes into programming becomes part of the CoC’s renewable grants for each NOFA (forever impact!).  

A defining piece of this work is engaging youth who will lead it.  We are working WITH them, not for them. Each CoC has established a Youth Action Board (YAB) already which will provide the vehicle for youth leadership. 

The best use of this Committee to support this effort: After discussion, it was decided that the Committee meetings over the next 4 months would be utilized as a gathering point to begin or deepen important relationships and understanding around particular issues with relevant staff.  We agreed on this list of issues/agencies:

  • human trafficking (outreach at Baystate, Sheriff’s offices, YWCA?)
  • corrections (outreach at sheriff’s department, AISS, ROCA)
  • pregnant and parenting youth (will happen in Dec., after EA RFR is submitted; will reach out to: Square One, Care Center, Healthy Families, Teen Living Programs – YWCA)
  • high school/college – McKinney Vento and single point of contacts for college
  • DCF (since currently around our table, will go next round in January – will reach out further to Laurie Sullivan of DCF; will deepen discussion on how to reach out to youth who are leaving DCF and refuse continuing services)
  • workforce development – Pamela will enlist the Network’s Career Services committee to further this conversation around targeting employment paths for youth

Other issues that surfaced:

  • LGBTQ for Hampden County (Three County already has an infrastructure in place to address this)
  • Mentoring (Hampden County has a focus on this that is underway)
  • Gun violence
  • Food insecurity
  • Recovery services community 

We agreed our next committee meeting will focus on trafficking, specifically: increasing the understanding of this issue in Western MA, the challenges, the opportunities for intervention; learning from youth about what they are experiencing, how prevention can work; how to train agency staff to respond.  Pamela and Gerry will work on trainer invitations to the meeting. 

Next meeting dates: 
10/24, 9:30-11, Kittredge center  Room 303
11/20, 9:30-11, Kittredge Center, Room 303
12/18, 9:30-11 Frost 309

Hampden County Individual Services Minutes – 9/3/19

In attendance: Grechar Aquino, FOH/CSO, Linda Cruz, River Valley Counseling Center, Dave Havens, FOH/CSO, Janice Humason, FOH/CSO, Mark Jachym, FOH/CSO, Nichole King, FOH/CSO, Jay Levy, Eliot Services, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield/Hampden CoC,Denise Rivera-Nunez, FOH/CSO, Christina Ruest, FOH/CSO, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Stephanie Tonelli, FOH/CSO,Catherine Torres, FOH/CSO, Kathy West, Eliot Services

This was a brief 30 minute meeting where we focused on planning for a training between FOH staff and Springfield/Holyoke Mass Hire Career Centers.  The group brainstormed what would be useful and how to guide the Career Centers. The suggestions included:

  • providing career centers a deeper understanding of the barriers facing people experiencing homelessness (e.g., the percentage of people with employment history at entry and exit, under-employed; living on benefit income, education levels). Janice and Christina will work on this.
  • bringing Mass Hire staff to FOH and have them outreach directly.
  • stressing the value of one-on-one case management in view of the depth of barriers and limited experience for many people seeking employment
  • discussing further the possibility of bringing in Mass Rehab and Viability (and others) to build our the relationships

Youth Homelessness Demonstration Project FundingGerry 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 fundings gets  incorporated into the annual renewal fund process within the CoC. 

Training updates:

Next meeting date: 10/8, 1-2 pm, Friends of the Homeless.

Family Services Committee Meeting Minutes – 9/3/19

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

Exciting News on Ending Youth Homelessness!

Thrilling news to report: the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has awarded the Western MA region over $4.3 million to end youth homelessness as part of its Youth Homelessness Demonstration Project!  The Springfield/Hampden Continuum of Care (CoC) was awarded $2.4 million for Hampden County; the Three County CoC received $1.9 million for Franklin County.

CONGRATULATIONS to everyone and especially to our Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee partners – Gerry McCafferty of the Springfield/Hampden CoC/City of Springfield and Lisa Goldsmith of Three County CoC/Community Action in particular –  who led the way on making this extraordinary investment possible. 

The grant lays out the next four months for planning time with youth and community partners to develop the plan to end youth homelessness. We will continue what is already well underway and plan with the promise of resources to make the plan happen.  How positively thrilling!

Yesterday, a press conference was held at Springfield City Hall.  You can see the coverage on MassLive and the Greenfield Recorder  and read more from the HUD announcement here.  Young leaders from both regions who participated in this grant planning were in the room for the press conference and received the kudos they richly deserved. We look forward to following their lead in the months and years ahead!

Congratulations once again.  A remarkable step forward for our entire community and for our young people and their futures most of all.

At the press conference at Springfield City Hall announcing the grant. At the podium: Clare Higgins, Executive Director, Community Action Pioneer Valley. From left: David Tille, HUD New England Regional Administrator, Springfield Mayor Dominic Sarno, Gerry McCafferty, Springfield Housing Director and Springfield/Hampden CoC Administrator and Lisa Goldsmith, Community Action Director of Youth Services.