Family Services Committee Meeting Minutes – Jan. 7 2020
In attendance: Ellen Broadhurst, West Springfield Public Schools, Tamicha Colon, Womanshelter, Hillary Cronin, HUD-VASH, Brenda Garcia, BHN Project Fit, Danielle Hartner, CHD, Jill Fijal, Chicopee Public Schools, Fran Lemay, ServiceNet, Jane Lindfors, DTA DV Unit, Carolyn Martinez, Baystate Pediatrics, Matt Montanaro, ServiceNet, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Rylee O’Brien, Baystate Pediatrics, Monique Osbourne YWCA, Katie Roberts, Clean Slate Centers, Kim Savery, Hilltown Community Health Centers, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Morayma Vazquez, NEFWC, Janette Vigo, Way Finders

RAFT increase and proposed legislation:In the Legislature’s Supplemental Budget passed in late December, it included an increase in RAFT funds that would change from a flat cap of $4,000 for back rent or back mortgage payments to 4 months of either back rent or back mortgage payments.  This is great news!  DHCD is now in the process of working out implementation so stay tuned for further information and notice of its availability.

A bill is in the Legislature that would make permanent this and other changes under the Rent Arrearage Assistance Program (RAAP).  The Joint Housing Committee is holding a public hearing on this on January 14.   The Network has submitted written testimony in support of this bill and encourages other organizations to do the same.  Please feel free to use the attached letter as a template for your own.

Network Legislative Training:The Network is sponsoring a training led by attorneys from Mass Law Reform Institute on State Budget and Policy Making – how it gets done, how to make an impact on preventing and ending homelessness – on Tuesday, January 28, 9:30-noon, HCC.  (Note post training: see PowerPoint presentation here).

HUD’s Point in Time Count: January 29!  For all shelter providers, please be sure your HMIS data is in order so our CoCs can collect quality data for the Count!

Youth Homelessness Demonstration Programs (YHDP) update: Both the Hampden County YHDP and Franklin County YHDP submitted their draft plans to HUD.  Intensive planning continues in both counties (final plan due end of April).  If you want more information or want to get connected, contact: Hampden Couny: Gerry McCafferty, or Franklin County : Lisa Goldsmith:

Discussion of racial equity work: We discussed the Network’s ongoing support of work around ending racial inequity in homelessness and provided time to discuss our observations and experiences.  The discussion included:

  • It is of critical importance to hire people who reflect the community, people clients can relate to; community health workers are an excellent example of this.
  • It is also critically important that organizational leadership reflect the diversity we seek.  We discussed the Network’s own movement in this regard as it has accounted for its previously all White Steering Committee and is now in the process of diversifying its leadership.  
  • We noted the state support (EOHHS) of this work in its recent allocation of funds to support racial equity work in the youth population (the Network is partnering in this).  The Network is also allocating funds to support this work through the YHDP efforts.
  • We will continue this conversation on an ongoing basis.

Career Services Resource Fair March 25: The Network’s Career Services Committee is hosting a Career Services Resource Fair for providers on: Wed.,March 25, 10 am – 12noon, Northampton Community Arts Trust, 33 Hawley Street, Northampton.  All providers across all four counties are welcome.  See the flyer here.

Upcoming Network Trainings:
SSI/SSDI: maximizing benefits to maximize housing security: April 16 – Register here
Housing People with Sex Offense Histories: Using Facts instead of Fear to Serve Public Policy: April 30

Save the date: 4th Annual Housing/Homelessness Resource Fair: June 5 Details to follow, just mark your calendar for now!

Next meeting date: Tuesday, Feb.11, 11 am – 12:30 pm, HCC Frost Room 309

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