Family Services Committee
May 14, 2013

In attendance:  Jane Banks, Center for Human Development, Shannon Barry, Springfield Public Schools, Tana Bloom, FCRHRA, Bonnie Caldwell, HAP, Charity Day, Franklin County Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority, Harry Duchesne, New England Farm Worker Council, Toni Hochstadt, Community Action, Steve Huntley, Valley Opportunity Council, Wendy Kane, Community Legal Aid, Faith Lafayette, Fran Lemay, Greenfield Family Inn, Jane Lindfors, DTA Domestic Violence Unit, Jordana O’Connell, Holyoke Public Schools, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Stephen Plummer, Springfield Partners for Community Action, Jim Reis, HAP, Pamela Schwartz, Network coordinator, Kate Shapiro, Tenancy Preservation Project, Rachel Trant, DCF, Lauren Voyer, HAPHousing

Emergency Housing Assistance:

No placements since last meeting, April 23.  DHCD doing more placements with presumptive eligibility; staff having success in finding friends or family as alternatives.  HAP out of RAFT funds since last Monday.

Motel Task Force:  meeting this Thursday.  Still Beverage Fund dollars for supplies and to assist with first/last month rent.  Currently 230 families in hotels, staying about level for the last few weeks.  Seeing a lot of transfers out to Worcester (some shelter openings there; aiming to transfer only families with non-school age children to minimize disruption).

For  Families stating in Chicopee Quality Inn next month.
More medical care in motels  through Health Care for the Homeless.

Franklin County:  currently 10 motel families.  Working with City of Greenfield to have a summer meals program and offering summer camps.

RAFT funds for FY13 Franklin, Hampshire and Hampden Counties are spent (presumably Berkshire County, too, although not present at the meeting).

Community Action ESG funds:  $59,000 remaining for families.  Available in Hampden (except Springfield), Franklin and Hampshire.  Must be pledged by 6/30.  Have to be below 30% of area median income; have to have a summary process summons to court; has to be a household member with a disability or history of homelessness or history of domestic violence.  Up to 6 months of rental arrears not to exceed $4K in any situation; for unsubsidized tenants, can include utility arrears.

Now responding to next year’s ESG.  In total have allocated $140,000, a big cut from last year.  Reduced amount for subsidized households to $2,000.  Criteria still includesl the summons, below 30% AMI, and now also feeling or attempting to flee DV within the last 30 days, but no other eligibility criteria.  Targeting subsidized households.

Hampden County state ESG – majority for individuals but also funds for families.  Catholic Charities will submit RFR; YWCA, HAP, Open Door will also participate for families.  Emphasis on DV.

State Budget update:

Updated committee on Leadership Council discussion re: changing EA regulation to allow for eligibility if at imminent risk of staying in a place unfit for human habitation.

Agreed that we will await the Senate budget to learn if they incorporated the Leadership Council’s recommendation to allow for the use of RAFT funds to fill this safety net need.

If the RAFT alternative is adopted, committee members expressed hope that with it would come a mandated referral to RAFT by DHCD.  A desire for some “teeth” in the reliance on this resource.

Farewell and Thanks to Jim Reis

As Jim approached  his last day at HAP (5/24), we all raised our glasses to toast his incredible work and contribution to preventing and ending homelessness in Western Mass. and to the Network in particular.  We are forever grateful and wish him well in retirement.  Thank you, Jim.  We will miss you!

Next meeting:  Tuesday, June 11, 1:00-2:30 pm, NEFWC, 225 High Street, Holyoke

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