Leadership Council Meeting
July 27, 2017

 In attendance: Jim Ayres, United Way of Pioneer Valley, Mary Jane Bacon, Senator Rosenberg’s office, Tim Brennan, Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, Kathryn Buckley-Brawner, Catholic Charities, Steve Como, Solider On, Ben Cluff, DPH, Dawn DiStefano, Square One, Lisa Goldsmith, DIAL/SELF, Brad Gordon, Berkshire Regional Housing Authority, Clare Higgins, Community Action, Steve Huntley, Valley Opportunity Council; Peg Keller, City of Northampton, Charlie Knight, Rainville, Joanne LaCour, DTA, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Michelle Michaelian, BHN, David Modzelewski, Network, Andrew Morehouse, Food Bank of Western Mass. , Megan Rhodes, Franklin Regional Council of Governments, Dr. Christina Royal, Holyoke Community College, George Ryan, Hampden County Regional Employment Board, Sandy Sayers, United Way of Franklin County, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Sarah Tanner, Friends of the Homeless, Janna Tetrault, Community Action

Motion to Approve Minutes of 4/11/17:
So moved: Tim Brennan
Seconded: Charlie Knight
All in favor with one abstention (Joanne LaCour)

In Memoriam: Ken Demers
The group honored Ken’s enormous contributions to ending homelessness and his steadfast and profound caring for the people he served throughout.  We will sorely miss him.

Welcome to Jim Ayres at United Way of Pioneer Valley
From years-long Leadership Council membership as executive director of the United Way of Hampshire County to now assuming the leadership post at the United Way of Pioneer Valley, the Network’s fiscal sponsor, we are grateful to Jim for his new position. We all look forward to working together to address the Network’s challenges and opportunities.  Welcome, Jim!

Hampden County CoC update:
Gerry provided detailed information regarding the Hampden County CoC’s performance measures as defined by HUD. Please click here for additional detail.

In summary, comparing the last 2 years (ending in 2016):

  • Point in Time count shows 3% decrease in homelessness
  • Annual rate of homelessness down 9%
  • Length of homelessness decreased 9%
  • Average length of stay stayed steady at 210 nights in shelter; median is 129 nights (both for FY16)
  • Placement rate of people from shelter to housing increased from 32 to 40%
  • Reduction in returns to homelessness 8% (1% first 6 months, 1% next 6 months, 6% next 12 -24 months)
  • Largest cause of decrease is reduction in families in shelter (kudos to State interventions)
  • Unsheltered count increased from 35 to 53, all individuals. Biggest driver of increase was extensive outreach and therefore identification of homelessness, especially among youth ages 18-24 years.
  • Youth homelessness overall decreased by 9% (a function of successful new programs)
  • Family homelessness decreased by 7%.
  • Veteran homelessness decreased by 52% – now at 14 identified homeless veterans, down from 50, remaining individuals are largely chronic, difficult to engage, continuing to strategize interventions
  • Chronic homelessness decreased overall by 22%.

Preparation for this year’s HUD application is underway. This data is key. The CoC is investing in a new data system that will be rolled out in September that will enable better integration of CoC’s system with state system and offer to track housing matches within the database. This will make housing placements quicker and more effective.

The CoC is receiving HUD Technical Assistance for a major funding for a youth initiative. Application will be due in December. The Network’s youth committee is providing the umbrella for the meetings in support of this effort.

Three County CoC Update:

Dave Christopolis, the CoC administrator, sent his regrets. Lisa Goldsmith and Brad Gordon reported on the 3 County CoC’s behalf:

  • The CoC is moving forward in its development of its coordinated entry and common assessment tool which will be ready to launch in January. This will include an 800 number (based at Soldier On) to provide immediate assistance with referrals.
  • The by-name lists for homeless veterans and chronically homeless individuals are in development and will be used to prioritize allocation of resources.
  • The CoC itself is in the process of further developing its governance and structure.
  • Brad and Lisa will report back to the CoC about creating a system for delivering more detailed data at the Leadership Council meeting, recognizing the value of LC members being informed about the progress being made.

Network Update
Pamela reported on Network activities over the recent quarter:

  • Ongoing advocacy on behalf of Network FY18 budget priorities with the Western MA delegation, including meeting with 14 legislators in partnership with Network leaders from their respective districts. Legislators express their appreciation for the Network role and have been tremendously supportive of both Network priorities and the Network itself.
  • Family Homelessness Resource Fair: The Network’s Family Services Committee sponsored this event in June that brought together over 40 providers across the 4 counties and over 200 people who came to learn about their resources and related information. It was a great success, thanks in large part to the collaboration of Network partners who helped organize it. HCC has already committed its space for next year’s fair (June 14, 2018), including the Kittredge Center’s multi-purpose room and 4 classrooms for break-out sessions.
  • Veteran homelessness shout-out: HUD/VA leaders recently acknowledged the work of the Veterans Committee, particularly with regard to its support of the Hampden County Corrections efforts to identify incarcerated veterans and direct them to veteran resources.

Network Funding Discussion
In view of the Governor’s recent veto of Network funding for FY18, the Network currently has roughly 3 months of funding remaining with very little promise of continued state funding this year (while the Legislature may override the veto, Governor could still use 9C authority to cut as he did last year).

Community Action and Hampden County CoC supported the Network committee meetings (in their respective sub-regions) for the last quarter of this year. However, Community Action has suffered budget cuts that make continued funding very unlikely. Hampden County CoC also has suffered cuts that make continued funding uncertain, although Gerry will explore possible alternatives.

Initial discussion points included:

  • Is the Network in a position to be a fundraising entity?
  • Are there other funding sources from other related initiatives that can be leveraged?
  • Are there block grant funds to access?
  • Network coordination and fiscal sponsorship fee totals roughly $50,000. If the veto is overridden, work to get that much released ASAP.
  • Determine long-term vision of Network – is there an “end-date” to its mission; this is relevant to fundraising strategy
  • Consider how to communicate the story of what the Network accomplishes

The group agreed to convene a meeting of LC members focused exclusively on the topic of the Network’s sustainability. Pamela will follow-up on this.

Outcomes for Network FY18 Budget priorities outcomes:

Pamela reported on the Governor’s vetoes regarding other Network priorities:

  • Berkshire Regional Housing Authority earmark of $150,000 was vetoed. This has significant consequence for funding overflow shelter in the Berkshires.
  • Youth funding was vetoed, threatening the programs just established in both regions that have already made a great impact on youth homelessness.
  • RAFT funding was eliminated for expanded eligibility that would have included individuals (elderly, people with disabilities, youth)
  • Housing Consumer Education Center funding was cut significantly.

2017-2018 Leadership Council Meeting Schedule

Wed., October 25, 1-3 pm, Pittsfield
Thurs., January 25, 10 am- 12 noon, Springfield
Wed., April 25, 1 pm – 3 pm, Northampton
Thurs., July 26, 10 am – 12 noon, Springfield
All dates are subject to the Network’s continued existence.


Meeting adjourned: 12 noon.

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