Family Services Committee Meeting Minutes
July 20, 2010

In attendance:    Jane Banks, CHD, Pam Bennett, Berkshire shelterTammie Butler, Community Action, Cris Carl, Greenfield Family Inn, Martha Ceplikas, DHCD, Heidi DeLeone, FOR Families, Joanne Glier, Franklin County Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority, Brad Gordon, BCAC, Molly Heffernan, Square One, Toni Hochstadt, Community Action, Steve Huntley, VOC, Jane Lindfors, DTA-domestic violence unit,  Ashely McGurn, FOR Families, Jim Reis, HAP,  Misty Ruppert, YWCA, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Sarah Slautterback, DOE, Suzanne Smith, Network

Data Review:

  • Looked at figures used (and updated) for press release on dropping #s of homeless families living in motels (now at 161, down from 312 in January).  Gained excellent media coverage.   On rehousing data:  need to incorporate Franklin and Berkshire County rehousing figures, e.g., Greenfield Family Inn placed 7 families between June and July – Suzanne will follow-up
  • The region has served 333 families with ICHH funds (which are now entirely spent).  This total is up against a contract requirement for the pilot project to serve 180 families.  Congratulations to our Network partners for a job extraordinarily well done!

Triage update

  • Diversion effort:  DCF, HAP, DHCD met last week to talk about how to increase coordination/support.  HAP is in process of planning to offer 2 sessions/week on conflict resolution for doubled-up families to increase chances of at least temporary stabilization so families do not need to enter shelter while better housing is  pursued.  Also working with DCF on sharing assessments.  HAP will add a day of appointments to meet diversion needs at Liberty Street office.
  • Berkshire strategies for local control over shelter placement:  Brad discussed the Berkshire plan that was developed and presented to DHCD but was told by DHCD that further action on it would await the development of the larger Network (i.e., Hampden County-inspired) plan.  Pamela and Brad will follow-up with Bob Pulster to discuss the possibility of moving forward with the Berkshire strategy while continuing to develop Hampden County; that in fact they are separate enough that we can simultaneously pursue  progress on both tracks.
  • Cris Carl of Greenfield Family Inn noted that local control in Franklin County was not a primary concern; that communication across the region was adequate to meet their shelter needs.  Only current concern is a family that was placed in Greenfield despite living previously with all support systems in Cambridge.  Cris is trying to gain some understanding of why this happened.
  • Providers noted one of the challenges posed by the new funding system for shelter providers (in which shelter/rehousing/stabilization funds are now in one combined pot) is that it makes it more difficult/impossible to transfer stabilization services to a more geographically appropriate provider.   This is something to be considered and further discussed as this new funding mechanism unfolds.

Housing Authority outreach update: meeting with Hank Abrashkin of Springfield Housing Authority  and Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, to discuss how to reach out to other housing authorities in the region to encourage their involvement in rehousing efforts.  Toni advised that Joanne Campbell of Valley CDC has also been reaching out to housing authorities, so Pamela will connect with her to make sure we are well-coordinated in our efforts.


Big picture: THE REGION IS ESSENTIALLY OUT OF PREVENTION FUNDS.  Virtually all providers (except VOC) have spent all funds available for this purpose, including all ICHH family services funding.

HAP: received $52,000 ESG funding from DHCD; $42,000 in Springfield DHCD funds.  Same 2 priorities for each funding source:   (1) EA eligible families that are presenting at the Holyoke and Springfield DHCD offices (diversion) and (2) stabilization efforts to prevent re-entry into shelter.   Maximum is 3 months of assistance, no longer term rental supports.  Jim will share more specific guidelines as soon as they are ready.

HAP was awarded 55 family unification vouchers, Section 8, for designated DCF families (reunifying with kids who are in foster care).  Many are in motels; some are in shelters.  DCF chooses families; HAP will assist through process.

VOC: Working with FOR Families to get referrals for hotel families.  Working with 36 families in hotels in both Holyoke and Chicopee, rehoused 16 as of this week.  Allocating an additional 45,000 of CSBG-ARRA allocation for prevention purposes in Holyoke and Chicopee.

Community Action: received $70,000 in ESG; grant is for staff to work in the housing courts, $10,000 for client assistance through housing court

Berkshires :  received $38,000 in ESG funds to split with BCAC, prevention to support court mediation program, as well as BCAC will use a portion to support post placement case management

CIES workshops:  Slots still available.  HAP and NEFWC are hosting workshops in August and September for prospective applicants.  An offer/request is on the table to host another on 12/1 in Franklin or Berkshire County.  Pamela will follow-up with Liz Curtis to confirm if there are geographical allotments of the slots (note:  spoke with Liz and can report that there are not – it is on a first-come, first-serve basis).  Brad and Tammie will talk more to determine whether the December session will be held in Franklin or Berkshire County.

Child care slots: New child care slots to be made available; Steve Huntley of VOC will follow-up with additional information about how to access; the understanding is the process for applying has not yet been issued

DV provider prevention funding? There was discussion about the funding some DV providers have received in the past to assist with homelessness prevention.  Did they get awarded these funds again this fiscal year?  Jane Lindfors will inquire and report back.

Interfaith Council of Franklin County:  Joanne Glier noted that the Council was interested in creating one central process for accessing funds from churches since right now, a consumer may make over a dozen phone calls to piece together some emergency money.  The conversation on this has stalled and Joanne asked if the Network could assist with trying to move it forward.  Pamela will follow-up with Father Stan.

Looking ahead: Providers discussed the new understanding that the maximum extension of funding for families receiving 12 month subsidies is 6 months.  This means, for those families that received assistance beginning last September, their termination date will be March/April 2011.  Everyone agreed that stabilization efforts are now more important than ever.

US ICHH plan to end homelessness:  Brad Gordon noted that the recent report, “Opening Doors,” mirrors many of the same Network/ICHH goals, offering the promise of opportunities for the Network in the future.  We all agreed everyone should read it!  You can find it at:

Unaccompanied youth: Sarah Slautterback of DOE noted that a new analysis was released, finding that   an estimated 5,900 high school students are homeless statewide.  Notable in the western region is North Adams, which identified 40 unaccompanied high school students.  Sara requested passing on contact info of any providers that serve unaccompanied youth.

ICHH Data Transfer issues

A discussion with Network funded providers focused on the issues around transferring data from Social Solutions to DHCD in a desired format.  HAP would be charged by $10,000 by Social Solutions to make the transfer possible.   Suzanne will email Laila and follow-up on alternatives.

Next meeting:  September 14, 2010, 1-3 pm, Holyoke DTA, 100 Front Street

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