In Attendance: Barbara Agosto, NEFWC, Melinda Blisset, Square One, Lynneanne Brown, Elizabeth Freeman Center, Christine Cullen, Holyoke Chicopee Family Program, Anthia Elliott, BHN, Brenda Garcia, BHN, Steve Huntley, VOC, Cheryl LaChance, Way Finders, Heather Marshall, Elizabeth Freeman Center, Steve Plummer, Cheryl LaChance, Way Finders, Jane Lindfors, DTA-DV, Monique Osbourne, YWCA, Stephen Plummer, Springfield Partners, Pedro Rodriguez, CHD, Jasmine Rojas, Way Finders, Jessica Sastre, NEFWC, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Sarah Slautterback, DESE, Jennifer Sunderland, Springfield Public Schools, Janna Tetreault, Community Action, Anthony Thomas, Springfield Partners, Janette Vigo, Way Finders, Lauren Voyer, Way Finders, Amanda Watson, FCRHRA, Julia Zabinska, ACC
Family Homelessness Data Review: Please click here for recent DHCD data. We noted the marked drop in EA applications in current months as compared to Feb (less than half). All presumably COVID related. Follow-up questions for DHCD included: (1) where are people abandoning shelter (in the data that tracks “abandonment”) and (2) what is the application protocol during this time (presumed online and by phone but wanting to confirm accessibility).
Way Finders: Shelters are all making adjustments with protocols. Seeing increased mental health effect on families – the stress and anxiety is up. Applied for Round 1 Emergency Solution Grant (ESG) funds from DHCD.
CHD: also seeing increase in mental health stress; more conflicts with roommates, more 51As and DV issues. Lack of in-home therapy is having a negative effect. CHD is devising safety plans. Increasing visits and video chats. All protocols are in place – only 1 family and 1 staff person has tested positive so far in their whole portfolio – only one staff person tested positive. Applied for Round 1 ESG funds. Looking at Round 2.
NEFWC – no new confirmed COVID cases. Established a good partnership with Mental Health Assoc, providing on-site services for families, which is working very well. Got wait listed by DHCD for Round 1 ESG funds.
Elizabeth Freeman Center – seeing a slight increase in calls.
BHN DV unit, based in Ware: Seeing a spike in calls recently, almost double from the earlier COVID months. More walk-ins, too. 209As have doubled. A lot of DV shelters are closed. Hard to find places for people to live. Some are scared to go to shelter because of COVID. So using emergency funding for staying in place – purchasing of alarms and security. Lack of transportation is a huge problem.
Safe Passage – The 6 room shelter is now down to 3 for COVID reasons. Finding it very difficult to access housing.
YWCA – implementing all COVID guidelines. The YWCA hotline is operating and some rooms are being made available.
ESG Funding Opportunity: 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. Focus is individuals but also possible to fund non-EA eligible families. Pamela is convening regional group of legislators, local officials, shelter and housing providers to exchange plans around these resources.
Rental Assistance Funds:RAFT-COVID funding is available via regional housing authorities as well as ERMA (Emergency Rental and Mortgage Assistance Funds). Both resources allow for higher income than typical RAFT (80-100% of Area Median Income) and also higher grant amounts. The City of Springfield also allocated an additional $2 million in rental assistance funds (distributed through Way Finders).
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: Tuesday, August 11, 11 am