Family Services Meeting
March 9, 2016
In attendance: Jesus Arce, City of Springfield, Jane Banks, CHD, Yoshi Bird, CHD, Bonnie Caldwell, DHCD, Hilary Cronin, VA, Anthia Elliott, Safe Passage, Erin Forbush, ServiceNet, Jane Lindfors, DTA/DV unit, Luz Marcano, VA, Liza Rios, YWCA, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Tj Steele, Network Partners, Janette Vigo, HAPHousing, Lauren Voyer, HAPHousing
March 4 Progress Report Event Debrief:
Everyone agreed that the personal stories from people who experienced the journey from homelessness to housing defined the event and its powerful impact. We discussed the balance of even more stories within the whole of the program and the desire to have a youth speaker as well. Pamela explained that youth providers conducted outreach but that speaking in front of so many people was a difficult challenge for them. Lisa Goldsmith suggested the possibility of a video with more time to prepare and we all agreed that this was something to consider next year for integrating more stories in general.
Hampden County Family Point in Time Count 2016: Gerry provided a draft analysis of the Hampden County’s Family PIT 2016 which can be found here. Once the data is finalized, this report and all reports will be posted on the Network blog.
The group discussed the disproportionate number of homeless families in Springfield. It was pointed out that this is largely because most of the families are in fact from Springfield and also because of the significant reduction of the use of motels in Holyoke and Chicopee.
Information was requested about the breakdown of shelter units among co-shelter, scattered site and congregate. Lauren Voyer said she could get that for our next meeting.
The group discussed the referral of any veteran families in shelter to veterans services and confirmed the current practice in shelters of assessing veteran status upon entry and referring as appropriate.
Lauren Voyer of HAP shared about DHCD’s monthly visits to assist with meeting the barriers of hard-to-house families (larger numbers or other issues) in helping them move from motels to congregate shelters (or housing). This targeted effort is showing success.
Yoshi Bird of CHD shared about its extremely successful diversion program (diverting 36% at the front door of shelter). They have adopted a “business model approach” where they devise a detailed budget for the family to demonstrate to prospective landlords what it will take for them to pay their full rent in a timely fashion and then negotiate with the landlord to adjust the rent accordingly. The budget includes a savings plan. They are finding tremendous success with this approach as it gives landlords the security they need and empowers the tenants. This model is being shared across the state.
Permanent Supportive Housing update:
CHD reported that of the 10 PSH units, 4 have been filled to date but they are currently working with families that would fill every remaining unit. There are 34 families on the chronically homeless list.
VOC was not able to attend but they have 8 PSH units as well and are participating in the coordinated entry list.
Erin Forbush of ServiceNet provided an update on Berkshire families (6 beds at Our Friend’s House in Pittsfield; 12 additional beds through shelter expansion, 2 scattered site, the remainder co-shelter units). She is seeing an increasing number of families who are seeking shelter but found ineligible for EA. They only have 2 “community beds” so they are now holding a wait list for them.
There are a number of upcoming trainings regarding employment (our Network series), Rapid Rehousing, on the CORI law, NE Fair Housoing and Civil Rights Conference and the Network’s Trauma Informed Care and Critical Time Intervention trainings. Pamela will send a separate email that contains all the links to the current offerings.
HAPHousing has a new allocation of RAFT funds for Hampden and Hampshire County families available through the end of the year. Contact HAP for more information.
Next meeting dates:
Due to our employment training on April 12 and hosting John Rio from AHP that day, we agreed to reschedule our family services meeting to Monday, April 11, 1-2:30 pm at CHD.
Due to a conflict for Pamela for the usual May 10 morning time, we will meet on our regular date, Tuesday, May 10 in Northampton but at 1:00-2:30 pm (not our usual morning time).
Re: the upcoming DV/family homelessness meeting with Rose Evans and Robyn Kennedy on Wed., 3/16, 11 am at CHD: Jane Banks has generously offered to provide lunch. Needs a head count. Pamela will send out a reminder notice to all to RSVP.