The Hampden County Continuum of Care held its organizational and first annual meeting this morning, September 13, at Holyoke Community College.  This was the first general membership meeting of the newly-reformed CoC.

In attendance: Gerry McCafferty (City of Springfield), Pamela Schwartz (Western Mass. Network to End Homelessness), Steve Flynn (VA), Milt Vasquez (VA), Kevin Reed (VOC), Jaysteen Gonzalez (VOC), Steve Huntley (VOC), Allison Maynard (SMOC/Open Pantry), Charles Peterson (tapestry Health), Orlando Mercado (Tapestry Health), Joanna Carrington (Horizons for Homeless Children), Maria Perez (NNCC), Lauren Voyer (HAP Housing), Jennifer Lucca (Samaritan Inn), Christine Burns (Providence Ministries), Alicia Zoeller (City of Holyoke), Wendy Fydenkevez (SMOC/Open Pantry), Charlotte Dickerson, Lizzy Ortiz (City of Springfield), Karen Dean (Hamden County Sheriff’s Dept.), Kathy McBride (Hampden County Sheriff’s Dept.), Marianne Polmetier (RVCC), Christina Densmore (Arise), Jay Levy (Eliot), Jane Banks (CHD), Kathryn Buckley Brawner (Catholic Charities), Dawn DiStefano (YWCA), Jerry Ray (MHA), Doreen Fadus (Mercy Medical Center), Bill Miller (FOH), Ann Lentini (Domus), Diana McLean (City of Westfield), Jesus Arce (City of Springfield), Marcia Crutchfield.

Welcome.  The meeting marked the start of a newly-configured Continuum of Care which will be responsible for homelessness planning and HUD homelessness funding for Hampden County.  The Hampden County CoC has an open membership, and all are welcome to be part of the CoC and its committees.  If you missed the meeting and want to be a part of the CoC, please email your name and contact information to Gerry. HUD has newly required CoC’s to be governed by a Board of Directors, so this organizational meeting was for the purpose of ratifying organizational documents and electing an initial Board.

Report from the Springfield/Chicopee/Holyoke/Westfield CoC.  The CoC’s work is being carried forward from the previous Springfield CoC, which absorbed the rest of the Hampden County communities in 2012.   Members of that group worked over the summer to create the proposed governance structure.  One of the goals of defining the structure of the CoC is, to the extent possible, merge the committees and work of the CoC, the Western Massachusetts Network to End Homelessness, and the committees which are implementing 10-year plans to end homelessness.

Governance.  The general membership ratified two documents which were compiled and presented by the prior existing CoC: the CoC Governance Charter and the CoC HMIS Governance Charter.  The membership also agreed to some immediate amendments to the Governance Charter: 1) In the first year of the organization’s existence, the Board officers for the year would be chosen by the Board, rather than elected by the membership; 2) For the period between the general membership meeting until the first Board meeting, the acting, temporary officers will be Gerry McCafferty (Chair), Pamela Schwartz (Vice Chair) and Jerry Ray (Secretary); and 3) the Governance Charter will be changed to reflect that there is a joint CoC-Network Veterans Services Committee.

Board of Directors.  The general membership voted in the initial CoC Board of Directors.

Committees and Workgroups.   An initial Hampden CoC Schedule of Meetings was distributed, and members were encouraged to sign up for committees.

Continuum of Care Funding Opportunity.  HUD is expected to release the Continuum of Care Notice of Funding Opportunity in the next several weeks.  Once the NOFA is out, the CoC will prepare a Request for Proposals (RFP), and agencies may submit proposals to the CoC for evaluation.  The CoC Application Committee will select which existing projects should be renewed, and select any new projects to submit with the application to HUD.  It is expected that, even if all existing projects are renewed, there will still be about $1 million to use for new projects.  Based on analysis done by the CoC over the past several months, the highest-priority for projects will be for permanent supportive housing and rapid rehousing.

Next Meeting.  The next full membership meeting of the CoC will be March 21, 2014, 9:00 – 10:00 am, at Holyoke Community College/Kittredge Center.  Committee meetings are listed on the Hampden CoC Schedule of Meetings, and will be posted on the calendar on this site.

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