Secure Jobs Advisory Committee
February 2, 2016

In attendance: Debbie Bellucci, STCC, Ashley Brehm, HAPHousing, Bud Delphin, CareerPoint, Dawn DiStefano, Square One, Sean Hemingway, Center for Human Development, Lisa Lapierre, Franklin Hampshire Career Center, Madeline Martinez, HAPHousing, Johnny Miranda, HAPHousing, Bill Mulholland, Berkshire Community College, Maegan Pedemonti, HAPHousing, Jeremiah Riordon, Greenfield Community College, George Ryan, Hampden County Regional Employment Board, Pamela Schwartz, Network 

Progress Report review: Secure Jobs continues to place 4-6 people a month into jobs. We will clearly exceed our placement goals for FY16. Fantastic work! Click here for the Jan. progress report.

BerkshireWorks has retained a new Secure Jobs staff person – Janine Desgres – who comes with great experience and is a great addition to the program. Pamela Wotjkowski has moved into a new job developer position that will assist with Secure Jobs as well.

Governor Baker’s FY17 budget proposal: The Governor released his FY17 budget last week. It funded Secure Jobs at $750,000, which is level-funded relative to last year but the program’s sustainability relied on an additional $750,000 from the Fireman Foundation that is unlikely this year. Rep. Vega asked to get clarity from the Fireman Foundation about that, and if it is the case, suggested the Foundation write a letter making clear its expectation that the State will step in to sustain the program (pilot project demonstrated success; time for State to take it on). Pamela will discuss this with Sue Beaton of the Fireman Foundation.

Pamela reminded everyone of the March 4 Legislative Gathering at the Kittredge Center at HCC where we will have an opportunity to demonstrate the success of Secure Jobs to our area legislators. We have about 15 legislators confirmed to attend thus far.

HUD TA update: Pamela provided an update on a conversation that took place several weeks ago between John Rio, our TA consultant from Advocates for Human Potential (AHP), and Ashley and Gerry McCafferty, the Hampden County CoC coordinator. During that call we brainstormed possible workshops over a 1.5 day period which included: sustainability of Secure Jobs (how to leverage other resources to keep the program going); workforce development within Permanent Supportive Housing programs (integrate HUD requirements of CoCs as well) and one other that Pamela could not recall at the time (but based on follow-up communication with John was workforce development for homeless youth).

Advisory committee members also discussed the value of looking at retention and upward mobility, i.e., how can we support newly employed/housed people in their pursuit to increase their income and upward mobility.

Dawn DiStefano shared a new collaborative project, including Dress for Success, YWCA and Square One with business partners, including Columbia Gas, Big Y, Mass Mutual, Smith and Wesson, Baystate and MGM. All business partners have agreed to provide at least one interview for those who have completed the 12 week program sponsored by the providers. 27 women have signed up to participate. Columbia Gas is sponsoring the first cohort with a $15,000 contribution that will pay for the p/t trainer, child care, transportation, certificates, etc. Many women involved have 2 part-time jobs and are looking to obtain a better full-time job. While these women are not homeless, this is a great example of collaboration to build employment opportunity in the region.

Ashley pointed out that Secure Jobs is focusing on increasing the starting wage for people in the program, developing skills so a higher wage job is possible at the outset of employment. They are seeing success with a higher average wage in placements this past month.

Rep. Vega pointed out that one of the fundamental challenges is job development; we need to create more job opportunity in W. Mass. He is convening a round table in Holyoke, including the Administration officials, to discuss the allocation of workforce dollars in Holyoke. He will keep us posted.

EOHHS RFR: Pamela provided an update regarding the region’s 2 applications in response to the EOHHS RFR to create “local consortiums to respond to people facing acute housing instability.” Both CoC’s submitted applications (with Network support) in recognition of the vast geographic and demographic expanse and what it will take to make viable coordinated entry systems in each sub-region). Career Centers and REBs all provided letters of support, a great reflection of our partnership and the critical connection between employment and homelessness. We should hear outcomes in the next couple of weeks.

Mass. WIOA Plan: Bob Pulster of US ICH brought to our attention the Mass. WIOA plan and the recommendation to comment on it with regard to preferences for the homeless population (which currently is not stated). Pamela will reach out to DHCD and Fireman and continue the conversation with our Career Centers and REBs regarding submission of comments on the Plan (deadline for comments in sometime in Feb., to be confirmed).

Next meeting: Tuesday, March 1, 11 am, HCC

Regular April meeting of 4/5 is canceled, to be rescheduled for HUD TA date in April
June meeting has been rescheduled for 6/7 (due to conflict with Network training to 6/14, location subject to confirmation (hopefully HCC)

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