In attendance: Kim Borden, BCRHA, Emily English, Gandara Center, Pamela Ferguson, DDS, Leslie Garcia, YAB, Lisa Goldsmith, Community Action, Janice Humason, FOH/CSO, Jose Lopez-Figuero, STCC, Gerry McCafferty, Hampden County CoC/City of Springfield, Lizzy Ortiz, Mercy Medical Center, Stacy Parsons, North Adams Schools/DESE, Phil Ringwood, DIAL/SELF, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Teryl Smith, DDS, Jennifer Sunderland, Springfield Public Schools, Tyrese Tillman, CHD
DIAL/SELF – seeing uptick in demand on services seeking housing and emergency shelter. Data bears this out: over the last 3 months: 29 nights of emergency shelters, in last week alone: 12 nights of emergency shelter needed.
Gandara Center: also an increase in demand of services; landlords aren’t showing apts as readily, units are not changing over as quickly. Needing to find new units.
Discussion of housing search re: COVID: tenants are let in alone to view; sometimes landlords send photos but that isn’t really sufficient; new development around landlords requesting CORIs for tenant applicants who are working with agencies that are responsible for the apt.; landlords expressing concern about whether young people will be ready to take over the apt when it’s time, but this is the wrong question since the agency is there to support young adults on their path. Points to landlords’ fear of young people.
CHD: seeing more youth present for requests for support, e.g., food cards or other start-up costs. More young people are needing beds for individual units and in their maternity group home.
STCC: Community Foundation of Western MA awarded funds for emergency shelter and for food. Assisting students to pay back rent or gift cards. Any STCC students at risk should contact Jose at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Springfield Public Schools: plan will likely be decided right before school starts – following Gov/Commissioner. Anxiety is high. Home schooling vs. distance learning being debated among parents. There is online registration and address changes. Free wifi is no longer being offered. Trouble contacting students without wifi access. Delivering food to students out of district through August.
North Adams/DESE (Stacy): DESE put out a FAQ (click here). So much is unknown. Districts have to create 3 plans – in-person, hybrid, fully remote. Must submit by 7/31. Being asked not to send to public until mid-August. MCLA has sent out funds, noted high level of requests for housing assistance.
Transition to College Housing Plan – tabled until Jan. for an official roll-out but b/c people in the pipeline for Berkshires will move ahead for 2 or 3 (unclear due to challenges in reaching young people, lack of wifi, lack of phones). Now putting together outdoor events and outdoor visits.
DDS: in process of determining its service delivery/budget – staff is still working remotely. Will keep everyone posted.
Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program (YHDP)
Hampden County: Plan is complete; projects selected and approved. New projects starting:
- Coordinated Entry – Gandara/CHD joint project – this will create a single point of access for young people in Hampden County who are experiencing a housing crisis – can provide problem-solving, financial assistance; tied to Safety Zone program to work with families. It will be the one-stop place for young people in crisis. Just starting up, building on what they were doing before.
- Gandara: Transitional Housing (TH)/Rapid Rehousing (RRH) project. Apartment units that can be readily accessible as TH – and then transition into RRH
- Mental Health Association – Permanent Supportive Housing for young people with significant disabilities (intensive supportive services; assistance is not time-limited)
An additional 30 units of RRH for up to 2 years is still to be funded. Have not yet had an eligible applicant. City is continuing to do outreach on that.
Beyond programs, working with consultants to create a website and documents that are user-friendly, including YAB participants. City is hiring program director – in process, will be on board hopefully in August. Hoping to have a public launch of program in September.
Working with National Center on Homeless Education on a 2-part convening of youth homeless service providers plus K-12 and higher ed providers on July 23 and July 30. Ensuring young people in programs are connecting well to education resources at either high school or higher ed and visa-versa.
Racial equity work is continuing – tomorrow is 2nd session from which a racial equity plan will be developed and will be incorporated into the YHDP plan. High participation of YAB members.
3 County YHDP:
YHDP projects approved and in HUD system. Start-up will be in the Fall. Projects finalized:
- Community Action: HMIS and Coordinated Entry, esp for young people
- Gandara – TH/RRH – 6 beds for TH; 12 for RRH, focus on young parents
- DIAL/SELF – 4 beds RRH
- MHA – PSH for 9 beds; housing navigator, short-term RRH – 6 beds
Working with a consultant to streamline the plan to make it more accessible. YAB participating. The CoC is working on a website which will feature YHDP.Meeting with new projects in a couple of weeks. Start YYA Committee late August, beginning to prepare for that meeting. Getting clear on what is needed.
ESG update: DHCD has released a NOFA to allocate $22 million in Emergency Solution Grant (ESG) grant funds to expand shelter capacity and provide Rapid Rehousing assistance. Deadline is rolling (will review applications in 2-3 week increments until money is spent). Applications are accepted until funding is expended. Lisa flagged that Away Home American provided information on how ESG dollars could be used to serve young adults. Go here:https://awayhomeamerica.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/ESG.pdf
Foster Youth Independence (FYI) vouchers – moving forward in the Berkshires, establishing MOUS – agreement with Stockbridge Housing Authority, DCF, BCRHA. BCRHA will provide support services. Up to 25 vouchers are available per housing authority per fiscal year (although this number is likely far greater than what will be utilized in the Berkshires). In Hampden, Gerry is talking to DCF – will approach each of the HAs to see who is interested – will happen over the next month or so.
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: Wed., August 12, 9:30 am