In attendance: Barbara Agosto, NEFWC, Melissa Blissett, Square One, Tamicha Colon, WomanShelter, Anthia Elliot, BHN, Jessica King, VOC, Fran Lemay, ServiceNet, Heather Marshall, Elizabeth Freeman Center, Michelle Michaelian, BHN, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Theresa Nicholson, CHD,  Rylee O’Brien, Baystate Pediatrics, Dorothy Prieto, Community Action Head Start, Ehra Rodriguez, WomanShelter, Jasmin Rojas, Way Finders, Anabel Rivera, BHN, Jessica Sastre, NEFWC, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Sarah Slautterback, DESE, Anthony Thomas, Springfield Partners, Janette Vigo, Way Finders, Lauren Voyer, Way Finders, Amanda Watson, FCRHRA

Program Updates:

DHCD: working on completing contracts for FY20 and getting new (9 month) contracts in place for 9 months; also work groups in place for some new policies and procedures – stay tuned.

Way Finders: Units are set aside for families in need of isolation or quarantine. One family in congregate setting tested positive, isolated and no one else infected.  Protocols are working!  On homelesness prevention funds: 8 different sources right now, including RAFT, ERMA, Springfield City funds and for households in Monson.  Way Finders is not open to the public but assessment tool is online and applications will be available online within the next 2 weeks. Goal is to get assistance to families as quickly as possible. 

New England Farm Workers Council: no positive COVID cases; looking ahead to winter and preparations to protect against combination of flu/COVID exposure.  Also focused on ensuring families have access to Wifi and children’s remote learning needs are met. 

Center for Human Development: 1 adult in family household and 1 one year old child – all fine now.  CHD is mostly open, following CDC guidelines, having one family in the office at a time if they need to meet with stabilization worker.  Seeing an increase in domestic violence, more serious incident reports – working with DHCD to get assistance on that. Preparing for upcoming school year – talking to Comcast to get wifi for families to do online learning; goal to keep kids connected to school 

Valley Opportunity Council – things are going well; also working on tech support for children.  Received funding from the Community Foundation of Western MA to provide rental assistance in the community.

ServiceNet – no positive tests – working with families to follow protocol.

WomanShelter – rotating staff through office – demand has increased; lots of calls, lack of shelter in Western MA.

Elizabeth Freeman Center – no positive cases; hotline very busy – scarier calls than prior – lots of needs for people looking for shelter; more 209As.

Franklin County Regional Housing Authority: Rental assistance is available via RAFT, ERMA, and Sunderland-specific resource.

Behavioral Health Network – Family Resource Center in Ware opened on 8/3 – a drop-in center for families due to COVID visits based on appointment but open to all.  Children’s Outreach program operating at full capacity. Offering virtual outreach visits. Go here to learn more.

State Budget and Policy Update: See CHAPA’s update here for the latest news (that Pamela summarized).  The Network is pushing hard for the Act to Guarantee Housing Stability to stave off the tsunami of evictions that will occur when the eviction moratorium ends on 10/17 (20,000 eviction filings predicted) and Right to Counsel Pilot Program that will provide low-income tenants representation in eviction cases in areas hard hit by COVID.  Be sure to subscribe to the Western MA Network blog – (the big orange subscribe button!) to get in the loop on action alerts.  Your quick email or call to YOUR legislator makes a BIG difference, so please get plugged in!

Job Announcements:
Three County Continuum of Care is hiring for a Coordinated Entry Specialist.  Please see job description here.
Gandara Center is hiring for two new Young Adult positions: SHINE Young Adult Coordinated Entry Navigator and Young Adult Transitional Housing Coordinator

Checked in on meeting frequency:  Group affirmed that regular monthly meetings were useful to stay informed and connected.

Next meeting date: regular 2nd Tuesday – 9/8, 11 am. Contact the Network for the Zoom link.

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