Family Services Meeting Minutes
April 23, 2013

In attendance:  Tana Bloom, Franklin County Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority, Bonnie Caldwell, HAP, Marcia Crutchfield, HAP, Ken Demers, New England Farm Workers’ Council, Faith Lafayette, DPH FOR Families, Lisa Lapierre, Secure Jobs Connect (CPM), Fran Lemay, Greenfield Family Inn, Jane Lindfors, DTA – domestic violence unit, Ashley McGurn, FOR Families, Lynn Minella, WomanShelter/Companeras, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Stephen Plummer, Springfield Partners for Community Action, Jim Reis, HAP, Pamela Schwartz, Network coordinator, Kate Shapiro, Mental Health Association

Emergency Housing Assistance:

Since last meeting of 3/12, housed 9 families for a total of 37 nights at a total cost of $2,500.  To date:  placed total of 55 families at a cost of $19,000.

Approximately 45% of a families temporarily palced at motel become EA eligible post placement.

Approximately 45% of families that are not EA eliglbe are RAFT eligible.

Approximately 10% of families who are RAFT eligible have an unknown outcome or are not successful in locating an apartment (mostly due to lack of income).

FY 14 budget update/advocacy:

House is currently debating budget amendments.  We must weigh in immediately in order to participate in this process.

House Amendment re: change in EA regulation to allow for EA eligibility when families are at “imminent risk of staying in a place not meant for human habitation.”  This amendment would address the need outlined above for emergency housing and allow families to be sheltered without HAP’s voluntary emergency assistance.

Committee unanimously endorsed support of this amendment and recommended Network Leadership Council vote in support as well.

Reviewed remainder of Mass. Coalition for the Homeless and CHAPA suggested amendments.

Discussed HomeBASE amendment and complexity of continuing this subsidy without sufficient case management and stabilization services.  Families need more stabilization assistance! Rep. Rushing’s amendment to extend subsidy from 24-36 months is confusing because it includes 5 different components.  Committee members expressed mixed feelings about the straight extension of the subsidy from 24 to 36 months.  But support for other elements, e.g., allow EA shelter access; allow access to RAFT.

Committee expressed unanimous support for the following amendments:  additional funding for MRVPs, Tenancy Preservation Program, HCECs, Transportation for Students Experiencing Homelessness.  Also unanimous support for Unaccompanied Homeless youth bill (support survey; demonstration projects; funding of Commission) and for amendment to provide an $80/month transportation allowance through the TAFDC line item for certain TAFDC participants (those in approved work activities).

FY 13 budget update: HAP provided $200,000 to spend by end of June to increase stabilization for families with HomeBASE subsidies.  In new agreement with VOC and FutureWorks and (continuing with CareerPoint) to provide training/job search services.  Families are required to participate in order to continue to receive subsidy.  This funding is part of the push around the imminent ending of HomeBASE subsidies.

Motel family numbers:  down to 230 families in Western Mass. hotels.  Concern over leveling of decline due to ending of distribution of MRVP subsidies.

Program updates:

Secure Jobs Connect (Fireman Foundation):  188 referrals.  28 individuals enrolled; 6 employed; 2 pending job offers.  Going well.

Motel task force continuing.  Health Care for the Homeless is providing health care services at the Econo-Lodge in Chicopee, which will also include educational symposiums.  New intern starting from Springfield School of Social Work.  Will be looking at clinical work to support families to help them become successful.  Liberty Mutual will hopefully award another $7,000 to support supplies around this effort.

Square One hired new staff to coordinate Mom Squad, Zulma Torres.  She can be reached at 413-858-3164.

DHCD, DCF, HAP met to try to work out communication challenges with DCF.  Making progress, providing contact info within each agency.  Will continuing working on this.

DHCD hiring 5 new people, one based out here.

Greater Boston Legal Services provided a comprehensive hand-out on new domestic violence law that went into effect 4/1/13 that provides new housing rights for victims of domestic violence.  HAP will pull together a more condensed version, also in Spanish and will make available to all.

Next meeting:  Tuesday, May 14, 9:30 am – 11:00 am, Northampton Senior Center


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