Work Group for Housing People with Sex Offense History
Meeting Minutes 6/13/12

 In attendance:   Carl Cignoni, DOC Re-entry/Hampshire Sheriff’s Office, Steve Connor, C.H. Vets Services, Joe Critelli, Hampden county Sheriff Dept., Danielle DeBerry, ServiceNet, Karen Dean, Hampden County Sheriff Dept.,  Jen Glover, ServiceNet, Laurie Guidry, MATSA, Ellie Harris, ServiceNet, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Rose Mary Mok, Franklin County Sheriff Dept, Robin Powell, Hampden County Sheriff’s Dept., Wanda Rolon, ServiceNet, Pamela Schwartz, network coordinator, Laurie Smith, ServiceNet

Housing Outreach Update

Valley Community Development Corporation is not available right now to discuss their housing policy regarding sex offenders.  They said to check back in late fall after certain projects are settled.

Meanwhile, as outreach to HAP directors was underway, coincidentally, Steve Donato of HAP reached out to the Network to find out about our experience with tenant selection policies regarding sex offenders.  Steve connected back to HAP directors and got confirmation to be the point person for discussions on this issue with the Network.

We agreed that the following people will meet with Steve:    Laurie Guidry, Karen Dean, Joe Critelli,  Carl Cignoni, Jay Levy and Pamela.  Steve’s schedule eases up in the next couple of weeks and Pamela will begin the scheduling effort.

We also agreed that we will create a written summary of our approach/background/options for take-away to providers.  A sub-group to work on this will include:  Laurie Guidry, Steve Connor and Sally Johnson Vanwright.

Initial discussion of various agendas/issues for meeting:

  • Need to educate that  level of sex offender should not be rule-out factor – it is not as relevant a factor as it may appear.
  • Do we make criteria for housing include having a connection to services, e.g., e.g, parole, probation, some state service agency involvement that helps connect person to treatment).
  • Do we become a clearinghouse for making those connections possible (do we use the REACH meetings to facilitate that?)?
  • We need to address what happens if tenants begin to fail in their treatment plan.
  •  Needs to be research component, tracking outcomes.
  • Franklin County Sheriff’s Dept –  re-entry department – only has existed for a year – this dept. could be used to help connect inmates to services prior to release.  Framed in the context of working towards strong public safety.
  • Hampden County Sheriff’s Dept:  Started new transitional housing program – Community Housing Earned Safe and Supportive (CHESS) –  over last 4-5 months, partnering with Mental Health Association, working with various landlords.  Supportive relationships started when incarcerated, relationships continued upon release, includes guidelines (that could be useful in our work).

Other updates/progress

  • Fred Smith of St. Francis House is launching 3 businesses to create working opportunities for sex offenders housed at St. Francis.  Great prospects for building stability.
  • The VA is beginning to approach the issue of sex offenders (currently the VASH program does not accept them), creating opportunities for conversation.  Both Laurie Guidry and Steve Connor are participating.  Exciting potential.
  • Becky Lockwood of Rape Crisis Center – victim advocacy group – is interested in attending our meetings.  Exciting to have this perspective join our table.
  •  Mass. Housing and Shelter Alliance (MHSA) has invited the Network to speak at its 7/9 member meeting regarding this group’s efforts.  Pamela will follow-up to find out more detail about the meeting, its participants and its agenda.  After gathering this information, will assess whether it makes sense to have other Network members attend, e..g, Laurie Guidry, Karen Dean and Joe Critelli and possibly Jerry Ray.

Next meeting date:  August 8, 1:00-2:30 pm, AISS, 736 State Street

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