My apologies:  these minutes were intended to be posted last month but were relayed by email alone instead.  Also, please note:  the location and time of our next family services meeting – Tuesday, December 14th – has changed to 10 am at Center for Human Development, 69 Capital Drive, West Springfield.  Bob Pulster and Ita Mullarkey will be attending per the request of this committee (see notes below).

Family Services Committee Meeting Minutes –  11/16/10

In Attendance:  Jane Banks, CHD, Pam Bennett, Alvina Brevard, DHCD, BCAC, Cris Carl, ServiceNet, Karen Cavanaugh, Womanshelter, Marcia Crutchfield, HAPHousing, Heidi DeLeone, FOR Families, Dawn DiStefano, YWCA of Western Mass., Joanne Glier, Franklin County Housing Authority, Brad Gordon, BCRHA, Toni Hochstadt, Community Action, Steve Huntley, Valley Opportunity Council, Fran LeMay, Family Inn, LaWanza Lett-Brewington, Safe Passage, Jane Lindfors, DTA Domestic Violence, Kathy Moss, Behavioral Health Network, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Jordana O’Connell, HPS Homeless Coordinator, Steve Plummer, Springfield Partners for Community Action, Tom Salter, New England Farmworkers,  Pamela Schwartz, Network coordinator, Suzanne Smith, Network data analyst, Sarah Slautterback, DOE, Luz Vega, Womanshelter

Impending ICHH RFR Update:  It may be posted prior to Thanksgiving.  Pamela will send out notice as soon as it comes out.  The Committee will meet at the earliest possible opportunity to discuss (if necessary, prior to next family services meeting on 12/14).

Homelessness update:  Average 30 families/day entering shelter statewide.  No more flex funds available through January.  All W. Mass. shelter providers have exceeded their placement obligations.  Great concern expressed that with flex funds gone, we will now see motel numbers go up.  The Committee expressed a desire to meet with DHCD – Bob Pulster, Ita Mullarkey and others – to discuss ways to increase communication so that providers can better plan for how to distribute the resources in their respective communities.  We need to zero in on best practices and policies and how providers can best implement both.  We will propose a working group to establish a process of communication and problem-solving.  Pamela will relay the invitation to Bob and others to meet.

The Committee also discussed the need for the Network to be a voice to the legislature, to help bring home the effectiveness of these funds in keeping families housed.

Committee members stressed again the critical important of stabilization services and how current levels are absolutely not sufficient to keep people housed.

It was also noted that families who have been receiving HPRP funds will be in peril – and place more pressure on the system – as their short-term subsidies run out.

Data review: Suzanne distributed latest data from providers.  We agreed that we will collect data from DV and non-ICHH funded providers as well; that we will capture the number of “diverted families” in the “rehousing” numbers so we accurately reflect the total number of families rehoused.  We also agreed we would pursue the possibility of breaking out data around those families with parents 22 years old and younger.

Housing authority update:  Pamela provided the update of the meeting between Springfield Housing Authority and DHCD to explore ways to get more housing authorities in our region to adopt housing first programs.   The Network will be facilitating a meeting between the Greenfield and Amherst Housing Authorities to exchange best practices (and inspire the Greenfield Housing Authority to become more active in housing first efforts).  It was also noted that we need to address how DV victims with subsidies are treated – whether it’s possible to create an arrangement between housing authorities that allows a victim to move to another authority so they do not need to lose their subsidy to escape violence.

Court intervention update: Toni Hochstadt of Community Action noted that she is the only person providing intervention and support at the housing court sessions in Hampshire and Franklin County.  The load is overwhelming and the resources to prevent homelessness are virtually non-existent right now.  Brad Gordon of Berkshire Housing Authority noted that  evictions in the Berkshire courts are up by about 30%.

Marcia Crutchfield of HAP noted that its state and city ESG funds have been spent.  They still have Springfield-only HPRP funds.  And they have launched a new partnership with Springfield Partners that refers people to budget counseling classes at SPCA.

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