Thanks to all of you who attended yesterday’s meeting at the Housing Court (attendees listed below). And of course thanks to Judge Fields for facilitating a good discussion with good outcomes. Here is a summary of them:
- The Court will address provider staff needs for a secure space for laptops, access to a copier and an established place for the resource directory and related intake forms.
- HAP and the Springfield Housing Authority (SHA) will meet to discuss how best to coordinate their HPRP grants to serve residents at risk of eviction from public housing. The outcome will include coordination of staff assistance at the Housing Court on Friday mornings.
- Community Action will provide staff assistance to the Housing Court in Northampton on Monday mornings. With that additional help, HAP will “trade” its previously allocated staff on that morning for staff coverage on Tuesday mornings at Springfield Housing Court.
- Springfield Partners, with the specific assistance of eviction counselor and attorney Peter Dejnak, will be present at Springfield Housing Court on Thursday mornings to offer provider support and/or legal assistance.
- Colleen Lippiello of Western Mass. Legal Services will investigate WMLS’ capacity to help set up a list serve for this group so there can be an easy and accessible exchange around how best to help consumers (thanks to Gordon Shaw for the idea!).
We had a broader discussion about how we can best establish a system so that whoever is “on duty” has maximum access to all the available resources. One tool for that access is the resource directory. Another is the creation of a “universal screening form” that would be adopted by every provider and streamline the path to assistance. We acknowledged the cultural significance of this shift away from agency-by-agency norms to regional norms. We agreed that making it happen goes to the heart of why the Network was created, and that we need to get there. We agreed that buy-in from agency directors – the willingness to be part of a systems change – and agency-wide commitment to this goal are crucial to success. I will follow-up with the involved agencies to determine next steps.
Meanwhile, we agreed that each agency with resources would provide the housing court with its intake form so that until this universal screening form is adopted, every staff person has a means of getting the process started with the appropriate agency as soon as possible.
The staff assistance schedule for the Housing Court at the present moment is as follows (please let me know of any corrections):
Monday: Community Action (in Northampton), Tenancy Preservatin Project (TPP)
Tuesday: Catholic Charities, HAP, DTA, TPP
Thursday: Catholic Charities, HAP, TPP, Springfield Partners, WMLS
Friday: SHA/HAP, TPP
Thanks to you all for making this collaboration possible. Judge Fields and I will be in touch in January to schedule our next meeting to take stock of what’s working, what’s not and what we can do with it all to keep homelessness at bay.
For the record, attendees at yesterday’s meeting: Judge Fields; Karen Huntoon, Housing Court; Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield; Eryn Tobin, Catholic Charities; Janice Humason, Friends of the Homeless; Pam Wells, Springfield Housing Authority; Michael Doherty, Housing Court; Norma Adler, Mass. Justice Project; Kathleen Mulligan, Housing Court; Peter Dejnak, Springfield Partners; Steve Plummer; Springfield Partners; Brandi Gamble-Eddington, Springfield Partners; Kelly Jones, Housing Court, Colleen Lippiello, Western Mass. Legal Services; Tammie Butler, Community Action; Jim Reis, HAP; Marcia Crutchfield, HAP; Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield; Luz Alvarado, HAP; Tim Suzor, City of Springfield; Greg Mirhej, Tenancy Preservation Project (MHA); Christopher Zabik, Tenancy Preservation Project (MHA); Charlotte Dickerson, Springfield Partners