Community Engagement Committee Meeting Minutes – 11/16/10

In Attendance:  Father Stan Aksamit, Lady of Peace Parish, Jane Banks, Center for Human Development, Steve Como, Soldier On, Dave Gadaire, Career Point, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Pamela Schwartz, Network coordinator

We agreed we will not do another large public event this year ; that we will better spend our limited resources on targeted outreach/engagement.

We agreed a timely focus of our efforts would be to target towns and cities where the Network is not yet integrated.  The primary example right now is the city of Greenfield and its recent crisis with “The Jungle”

We need to keep pushing the Housing First philosophy, getting the right people around the table together, focus on reallocation of funds, focus on diversion/rehousing, e.g., use of CDGB funds in towns/cities – how to use them.  Tune in local governments to rapid rehousing and housing first.

Challenge for communities may be understanding problem and not knowing what to do with it.  Network offers access to people who work on these problems in their community – we can help them figure out the best way to get to answers in their community.  We can offer to play a gathering function; we can be part of their problem-solving network.

We can also help build connections between and among towns and cities, including among housing authorities, tying into family services committee efforts (and the recent meeting of Springfield Housing Authority and DHCD) to involve housing authorities in housing first efforts across the region.

We agreed to continue to target businesses to gain their investment in problem-solving as well.  Businesses recognize it is In their best interest and many desire to “do good.”  Merge “big hearts” with “business needs.”

We agreed to do outreach to incorporate people who used to live on the streets and are now housed through our Network – let the mayors, etc. see and hear from these people to make it real how effective permanent housing can be.

Jane Banks will reach out to Amherst Housing Authority (where there has been great success) and the Network will facilitate a meeting between the AHA and the Greenfield Housing Authority, who has a new director, John Counter. (Jane also noted her great relationship with South Hadley Housing Authority who we can also draw in.)

We will treat our outreach to Greenfield as a “pilot project” of outreach to our region’s cities and towns not yet connected to the Network.

Steve Como volunteered to connect with Chicopee Mayor Bissonnette to make a meeting happen with the Network (Pamela has been trying for a while to connect!).  Immediate results:  call placed, meeting scheduled on December 2nd.  Thanks, Steve!

We agreed we would meet on the 3rd Tuesday of the month at 9 am at the DMH Haskell Building.  Our next meeting date is: 12/21, 9 am.

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