In attendance:  Kim Borden, BCRHA, Lisa Goldsmith, Community Action, Rosemary Feidler, HCC, Charlie Knight, former consumer, Gerry McCafferty, Hampden CoC, Lizzy Ortiz, Mercy Medical Center, Stacy Parsons, North Adams School Liaison/DESE, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Jennifer Sunderland, Springfield Public Schools, Tyrese Tillman, CHD

Hampden County CoC: 
HUD approved its Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program (YHDP) Plan.  Working on plans for a public release (virtually).  Now in process of seeking HUD approval for proposed projects, including Coordinated Entry/Navigation (to CHD and Gandara), Joint Transitional Housing(TH)/Rapid Re-Housing (RRH) (to Gandara), Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) (to Mental Health Association for 8 units for youth with disabilities). The City will issue one more RFP for Rapid Re-housing (only one applicant who did not score high enough) which will fund 30 units of RRH. Aiming for implementation to begin on 7/1.  Also will be hiring a staff person to oversee the entire project.  

Gerry noted the significance of conducting the application review with members of the Youth Action Board (YAB), many of whom have lived experience.  Their input around program design was extremely meaningful.  They informed the decision to grant awards conditionally based on grantees successful implementation of certain changes in practice. 

Hampden County is also getting “extra” YHDP technical assistance from the National Center for Homeless Education.  They are helping to bring together two special zoom convenings in June, where we will bring together new YHDP grantees with local education partners (McKinney-Vento liaisons, community college representatives, and  career/technical ed providers) to continue and expand on our work of collaboration to improve education outcomes for the YYA in our new YHDP projects.

Three County CoC (Franklin County YHDP):
HUD also approved their YHDP plan.  Project applications were also reviewed and are mostly decided:  Housing Navigators to Mental Health Association (MHA); small PSH project also to MHA; TH/RRH for young families to Gandara; also still seeking more RRH project funding.

Planning for a fall contract start date.  Will also plan for a public event, currently working on a website for the project, also starting up a YHDP specific YYA Committee for oversight, etc.   

Both CoCs look forward to YAB collaboration across the region (seeing it happen already in the racial equity work). 
Hampden – applied for special education assistance National Center for Homeless Education – will work with us to do convening of education providers in June online – scheduling a meeting to discuss what that will look like.  It made sense to know who our key providers are.  
DIAL/SELF – With emergency shelters closing, seeing uptick in requests for services. Getting more calls with family structure breakdowns. 

CHD: similar to DIAL/SELF; noticing increase in referrals,  young people over 18 in need of housing supports;  looking to get more apartments for single persons (for virus prevention); currently they have a few apartments open for families.  

Berkshire Schools: providing transition services for seniors, sending out reminders of support that is available; DCF and schools are working together to provide foster care guidance where necessary, aiming to provide connections to youth over the summer and prepare for fall return; many youth are seeing issues of food access and housing.  Trying to address resource gaps. 

Springfield Schools: continuing to reach out to students to provide food, laptops, etc.; students are challenging to reach (phone numbers change, etc.), working with adjustment counselors to locate them.

BCRHA: Referrals are down but still receiving. Working with DCF on the Foster Youth to Independence vouchers with Berkshire Housing Authority   

Discussion of use of FEMA resources to pay for emergency hotel stays
States can seek approval from FEMA to use federal funds for emergency hotel stays (and provide 75% reimbursement to the state).  This is happening in NC, CA and CT.  ESG funds would cover the remaining 25%.  The goal is to provide a safer emergency shelter system that does not rely on overcrowded congregate shelter and one that makes re-housing more efficient (which is to say support services are critical during the emergency hotel stay). Some states have taken over hotels in their entirety; others just partially. On site staff is essential, even if services are provided through on-line communication (providing tablets, etc.). Gerry has been in conversation with MEMA and providers to explore using this strategy in our region.  Pamela will connect with our Western MA legislative delegation for their support. 

Phil pointed out that DIAL/SELF has a long-standing practice of using hotels for emergency stays for young adults in transition before becoming housed.  They provide critical case management services at the hotels when youth are there.  Happy to provide any counsel as this possibility unfolds.

Foster Youth to Independence (FYI) voucher program – a partnership between DCF and Housing Authorities that provides vouchers for up to 25 young  adults – for youth transitioning out of foster care or who have had foster care involvement.  Vouchers are available for up to 36 months with support services.  DCF is the contact to HUD and serves as the liaison with the HAs.  DCF is working in support of this initiative from the state level (via Michelle Banks of DCF).  These are being utilized in different areas of the state thus far (Lowell, the Cape) and now plans are underway in the Berkshires.  Gerry will be working with Chicopee and Springfield – will use an upcoming webinar on the topic to reconnect to local HAs and DCF.

Racial Equity UpdatesThere was a Joint YAB gathering last night – great connections and exchange.  Very poignant.  The work continues with a joint CoC training series in June and individual CoC follow-up.  Click here to register.

Census outreach: Phil noted that DIAL/SELF has received funds to conduct outreach and is doing so extensively through social media and other methods.  Contact Phil to utilize any resources on this!

The Nework’s “Different Kind of Resource Fair” – June 5- click here for details!

Next meeting date:Wed., 6/17, 9:30 am – 11 am via Zoom

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