We had 16  people in the room yesterday, including state agency representatives and providers, many of whom were not ICHH funded, but all of whom serve at-risk or homeless families.  The Network is growing and the potential for impact grows with it. Before I provide minutes below, I want to flag a few things:

  • Next meeting:  Tuesday, November 10, 1-3 pm, Holyoke DTA Office, 100 Front Street, 3rd floor conference room.
  • Below are the documents that we agreed will provide the basis for providing assistance to all families being served by ICHH funds and hopefully beyond.  To the extent we can create uniformity across funding lines (when objectives are similar), it would be a great advance to regional consistency and collaboration to utilize these guidelines .  So whether or not you are an ICHH grant recipient, I encourage you to review these forms and let me know if/where you may find them applicable in your service to families.

1.  Family Assistance Guidelines (these continue to set the income eligibility limit at 30% of the area median income      until further notice from ICHH);
2.  Uniform Release Form (with revised language to include the release of information among non-profit agencies)
3.  Family Participant Contract (agreement between housing agency and recipient of funds)
4.  Owner Contract (agreement between housing agency and landlord)
5.  Draft denial letter to applicants (must be completed with agency mailing address, etc.)
6.  Draft appeal procedure in the event of denial (must be completed with agency mailing address, etc.)

I welcome your feedback to any of these materials.

Minutes of Family Services Committee Meeting, 10/13/09

Attendance: Cris  Curl, Greenfield Family Inn, Fran Lemay, Greenfield Family Inn (ServiceNet), Luz Alvarado, HAPHousing, Marcia Crutchfield, HAP Housing, Steve Huntle, VOC, Martha Ceplikas, DHCD, Miran Chavez, DTA, Janette Vigo, YWCA, Jodi Smith, YWCA, Toni Hochstadt, Community Action, Joanne Glier, Franklin County Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority, Carol Gesell, Jessie’s House, Brandi Gamble-Eddington, Springfield Partners, Charlotte Dickerson, Springfield Partners, Peter Ejnak, Springfield Partners, Pamela Schwartz

Program updates:

HapHousing:  packets of information are going out to potential families re: ICHH available funds. Waiting to see what they get back.  Continuing to take referrals from DTA/DHCD Springfield office.
Greenfield Family Inn:  Using toolbox funds and small amount of United Way funds to assist families (not ICHH recipient), continuing to work on placements.
Springfield Partners:  Finalizing guidelines for distributing CSBG funds (not an ICHH recipient) to prevent homelessness.  Talking with HAP about coordinating guidelines (Springfield Partners will potentially have higher income limits to meet needs of population not served by ICHH funds).  Offers eviction counseling to threatened tenants on Wednesday nights.
Valley Opportunity Council: finalizing guidelines for assistance, at the ready to serve families
YWCA:  Just received $500K grant from Office of Violence against Women to fund a supportive housing program in Springfield.  More details available on n previous blog posting.
Community Action:  Almost in receipt of ICHH funds; preparing to receive applicants and serve families.  Experiencing a big increase in calls from families seeking help.
Franklin County Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority:  Sending out assessment forms for possible recipients; ready to assist for qualified families
Jessie’s House:  struck by the number of evictions over the last month (by previously placed families).  Looking for ways to hold onto the tenancies.
Berkshire Housing Development Corporation/ Berkshire County Regional Housing Authority(via email):  Fine tuning the rollout of both the City of Pittsfield HPRP and ICHH Family Financial Assistance Programs.  We already have a list of over sixty households that have expressed an interest in receiving financial assistance to prevent homelesseness.  It is anticipated that the intake and assessment process for these identified households as well as other potentially eligible households will begin this week.

Review of forms: We reviewed and agreed upon the attached forms.  There was discussion about whether the income limit of 30% of area median income was too low to create sustainable housing options since without subsidies providers felt it was unrealistic to expect such a low-income family to find an affordable apartment.  The group proposed to revise the income eligibility standard to 200% of the federal poverty level or 60% of the area median income (the fuel assistance standard).  We will await ICHH feedback.

Sub-Regional Coordination: It was agreed that providers should meet regularly on a county level to discuss families in need and coordinate appropriate responses to them.  I will follow-up to facilitate this.

“Double-dipping prevention”:  We discussed this issue and I agreed I would check with ICHH to see if there were plans for any internet based system to cross-check families and whether agencies would be held responsible if “double-dipping” occurred.  I heard back and the answer is “no” and “no” (but that if we believed this is a serious concern we should devise our own system to address it).  Right now, the proposal from Toni of Community Action is to meet quarterly across the region with the list of family names (with releases in tow) and cross-reference to assess whether this is a problem.  I will put this item on the agenda for next month’s meeting to finalize our process.

Committee Chair:  The Committee needs to select a chair to represent the committee on the Network’s Leadership Council Steering Committee.  My assumption is that the Chair would be from an ICHH funded recipient, but I will check with the Steering Committee to confirm this.  Meanwhile, if you are interested in serving in this capacity – which means additional email and some additional meetings, please let me know by responding to this email.

Consumer Advisory Group
:  The Network has committed to creating a consumer advisory group that would provide a meaningful vehicle for consumer input.  We also need to increase the Network’s representation of family consumers on the Leadership Council.  So please contact me if you know of a family representative who would be interested in participating. All expenses (child care, transportation) will be paid for, along with a stipend for participation.

Use of ICHH Assessment Forms:  The final part of the meeting addressed ICHH’s request to use the ICHH assessment tool when diverting families from DTA/DHCD.  Some providers expressed concern that this was duplicative since DHCD already assessed eligibility and has some of the intake information.  Laila explained that the information collected from DHCD for EA eligiblity is not the same as what is asked in the assessment tool; that if we have ideas about how to streamline and shorten the form for quick assistance, ICHH is totally open to them; and also suggested coordinating with DHCD Homleless Coordinators with the applicant’s consent, to share the information that has already been obtained in the EA application process.

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