In attendance: Sam Cunningham, ServiceNet, Steve Connor, Veterans Services, Shaundell Diaz, Stavros, John Hornik, Amherst Affordable Housing Trust, Laura Hudson, Positive Place, Michelle LaFleur, 3 County CoC, Theresa Maenzo-Tanner, Safe Passage, Brooke Murphy, Three County CoC, Theresa Nicholson, CHD, Kevin Nooan, Craig’s Doors, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Cherry Sullivan, Hampshire HOPE, Chris Zabik, DMH
Craig’s Doors (Kevin Noonan): Resource Center open M T Thurs Fr – 12-3; supporting encampments with water, porta-potties, tents, etc. Applied to ESG for hotel units, waiting to hear. Hoping to shelter 20 people in motel; 12-16 people at First Baptist (although church is still unclear about this winter’s plans).
Amherst Housing Trust Fund (John Hornik): Amherst Emergency Rental Shelter program – $250,000 in CPA funds – started marketing and accepting applications a week ago. Program is for families for single households. Using CPA funds, town will pay 1/2 of rent up to 3 months for eligible individuals. Program administered by Community Action. As of late last week, 26 applications. Will be 2 rounds immediately – will spend up to 60% of funds; then will reopen for new applications. Hoping to serve up to 80 households. Application is online at CAPV.
Valley CDC housing in Amherst at 132 Northampton Road. Valley CDC is in the process of developing 28 new units of housing in Amherst. The permitting process is taking place within the Zoning Board of Appeals – most recently they have received overwhelming support for the project. This is a long process and more can be learned here: https://www.amherstma.gov/3520/Valley-CDC-132-Northampton-Road
Northampton shelter update (ServiceNet, Sam Cunningham):Noted most immediate concerns of need for cooling center, especially now that Grove Street is closed 8 am to 4 pm and nowhere for people to go; need for new Covid testing procedures; need for more case workers. Right now for people to access shelter they must go through Grove St and then get tested but the process for getting tested is unclear so there are some unfilled beds as a result. Working on this.
It was noted that CSO has hired a new crisis service director and wanting to make contact. Cherry Sullivan was planning to reach out so will do so and bring Sam in the loop.
There was also discussion about engaging with police dept around crisis intervention. Kevin shared this model in Oregon called Cahoots (see article here). Cherry noted previous work on a “sequential intercept model” that would focus more on the low threshold, crisis concerns that would be conducive to intervention outside of the police dept. Sam, Kevin, Pamela, Theresa and Cherry will talk more.
Center for Human Development Update (Theresa Nicholson): 41 of 48 housing slots filled – one opening in Pittsfield; the other 6 in Millers Falls – working with coordinated entry – should be filled by beginning of August.Coordinated Entry (Brooke Murphy):
- The CoC is using the supplementary COVID-19 assessment tool through 8/30/20 which will prioritize people at highest risk for COVID.
- The CoC is moving forward on Coordinated Entry planning – working on pulling together resources to consider tweaks to the system, esp with a racial equity lens
- Getting closer to completing new Release of Information form
- All projects – CHD, ServiceNet (through ACCS) and Dial/SELF – have openings at the moment
- Since start of pandemic (3/16), 42 people have entered onto the by-names list – fewer entries in recent months than winter months – April (6), May (14), June (13) – as compared to March (20) and Feb. (29)
ESG NOFA: Pamela updated group on the new ESG NOFA released by DHCD to support expanded shelter and Rapid Rehousing (RRH) during COVID. Grant deadline is rolling. Local providers are looking to apply; Pamela is convening regional group of legislators, local officials, shelter and housing providers to exchange plans around these resources.
Legislative Advocacy to prevent evictions: The eviction moratorium is slated to end on August 18 with predictions of between 15,000-20,000 eviction filings occurring when that happens. Two bills are key Network priorities to keep people safe in their homes: The Act to Guarantee Housing Stability and the Right to Counsel pilot program. Please consider having your organization sign on in support of both these bills and please stay connected to these efforts by joining the Network blog at http://westernmasshousingfirst.org.
Next meeting date: Monday, August 10, 1:30-2:30 pm