Leadership Council Meeting Minutes– October 27, 2010

In attendance: Father Stan Aksamit, Our Lady of Peace Parish, Paul Bailey, Springfield Partners for Community Action, Andrew Baker, Vote No on Question 2 campaign, Jane Banks, Center for Human Development, Dave Christopolis, Berkshire Community Action Council, Sylvia deHaas-Phillips, United Way of Pioneer Valley, John Ebbets, Hampshire County United Way, Doreen Fadus, Health Care for the Homeless, Paul Fitzsimons, Department of Children and Families, David Gadaire, Career Point, Peter Gagliardi, HAPHousing, Joanne Glier, Franklin County Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority, Brad Gordon, Berkshire County Regional Housing Authority, Kristine Hazzard, Berkshire County United Way, Erica Johnson, Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, Peg Keller, City of Northampton, Charlie Knight, Springfield resident, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Geraldine McCafferty, City of Springfield, Andrea Miller, Chris Meehan, Department of Transitional Assistance, Center for Human Development, Andrew Morehouse, The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, Jennica Petrik-Huff, Valley Community Development Corporation, Jerry Ray, Mental Health Association, Jay Sacchetti, ServiceNet, Tom Salter, New England Farm Workers Council, Jane Sanders, Community Action, Pamela Schwartz, Network coordinator, Suzanne Smith, Network data analyst, Liz Sullivan, community resident (former area director, DMH),  Lynne Wallace, Dietz&Co. Architects

Network Update

Pamela gave a summary of Network accomplishments over the 18 month pilot period which ended on September 30th.  Click here for the summary report (intended as a 4 pager to be printed on 11×17 paper and folded).  In short, we met or exceeded our contract goals by virtually every measure.  Pamela presented on a panel at the statewide end of pilot celebration, reflecting on network successes and challenges.

The Council reviewed the Network accomplishments in the context of statewide data.   The Council discussed at some length the striking spike in number of families in motels between August and October (following a striking decline between January and July with the help of HPRP and ICHH resources).  Points raised included:

  • We need to look at housing stabilization; ask if the state looking at recidivism;
  • People who didn’t have money 12 months ago don’t have money now.
  • The spike is attributable to people giving up a doubled up situation.
  • Section 8 has a wait list of 20,000 people.
  • Underlying problem is that we as a nation and as a state have abandoned creation of housing options for people with extremely low incomes.  Stopped federal public housing, stopped state rental assistance.  This in combination with number of units that have disappeared from the inventory due to failure to maintain (also economic byproduct) contribute to the crisis today.
  • We cannot fix all of this with magic – or a 12 month subsidy.  Even people working hard aren’t going to be able to do it in 12 months.   When you put a resource at the shelter door, people come and get it.  They don’t hear 12 months; they hear rental assistance.
  • Need to make fundamental shift from shelter resources to permanent housing resources.
  • Message needs to be:  given the scarcity of resources, if you are safely doubled up, you need to stay there.  There isn’t enough to go around.
  • On housing creation:  real solution lies at federal level.  Obama administration is pulling people together to talk about the creation of affordable housing.
  • Change terminology from “soft subsidy” to short-term financial assistance since people don’t hear/understand “soft” they hear/understand SUBSIDY.
  • Must address economic development – must tie housing development to economic development – raise standards of living all around
  • Consider showcasing examples in Western Mass. where merger of economic development and housing took place, e.g., Village Hill in Northampton.  Take discussion to next level in a public setting.
  • Supportive housing must rise on the agenda.  We still need a commitment of new resources, otherwise we’re just shuffling current resources around.
  • Need to think about income side.  How to raise income levels.  Without addressing education and employability, we cannot truly meet this challenge.
  • Need to make it “smart” to give up Section 8 subsidy, i.e.,taking  a job allows you to pay rent

Data report

Suzanne Smith presented on our data efforts.  She noted that the Network is currently in a data collection phase as new systems come into place.  Right now, we have 3 Continua of Care with different HMIS systems.  The State is rolling out a whole new system, Social Solutions (same as Springfield CoC), which will offer a better way to integrate data across the three CoCs; allow us to get unduplicated counts.  This new system will also include  ETO Community, which will allow us to integrate data across the region.  Social Solutions is likely to come online at the start of the new year; ETO Community within the next 6 months.

Suzanne distributed the 3rd Quarter outcome report.  Click here to review it.  She will provide an update to this template at each quarter.  Per Andrew Morehouse’s suggestion, Suzanne will add a column for “contract goals” to put the numbers in that perspective as well.

Suzanne announced the launch of a new section on our blog called “Stats and Facts” – go to https://www.westernmasshousingfirst.org/stats-and-facts/ to see this exciting new innovation!  And special thanks to Andrea Miller of Center for Human Development for her leadership and contribution to this resource.

Suzanne gave an update of the Data Committee structure, including the decision to divide the committee into two groups:  (1) a working group that will assist Suzanne with the nuts and bolts around data collection and analysis and (2) a performance measurement group that will take a broader view of Network progress and outcomes.  Please let Suzanne know if you are interested in serving on either group – she can be reached at [email protected].

Suzanne also updated the Council on the initial findings from the Housing Court/provider collaboration.  Please click here to view results.  This exciting project will allow us to examine the effectiveness of having providers on site at Housing Court sessions in each county, at the ready with resources or appropriate referrals in order to prevent homelessness.

Family and Individual Services Updates

Joanne Glier, chair of the Family Services Committee, highlighted the level of collaboration reached via the committee work, including the regionwide decisionmaking around reallocation of ICHH funds at the end of the pilot period.  Providers across four counties agreed on allocating the funds to Hampden County providers best situated to rehouse families living in motels.  Additionally, the Committee has increased its reach to include active participation of domestic violence providers and other state agency representatives.

Jay Levy, chair of the Individual Services Committee, highlighted the productive and successful negotiations for a contract extension to allow 3 REACH providers to both meet and expand its original target number of chronically homeless individuals served.  The sub-regional meetings continue on a monthly basis, involving up to 80 providers across the region.  Committee members and others have developed a “high vulnerability index” to help target the most at-risk chronically homeless.  The Committee has also initiated a regional discharge planning process to build greater collaboration between shelter providers and area institutions  that are faced with the challenge of discharging a homeless person.  The first meeting of shelter providers and representatives from psych and detox units, nursing homes and rest homes is taking place on October 28 (Pamela’s note:  the meeting occurred with over 30 people present from institutions and shelters across each county – a resounding success and exciting launch – see the blog for upcoming details).

Budget Update

Erica Johnson of Pioneer Valley Planning Commission distributed a budget report.  Click here and here further detail.  The bottom line:  we’re at the right bottom line.

New Funding Possibilities

Pamela announced that ICHH will be releasing a new Request for Responses (RFR) in the next couple of weeks.  It is part of a $1 million RFR, along with over $500,000 in pledges from the United Ways across the State.  We will be applying for funds as soon as the RFR is released; and we are in conversation with the United Ways across the region and will pursue funding as advised.  A special thanks to Sylvia deHaas-Phillips of the United Way of Pioneer Valley for her support and active outreach to the United Ways of Hampshire and Berkshire Counties.

Peg Keller of the  Tri-County Continua of Care also will be releasing a Request for Responses for support the CoC’s HMIS project.  The Network will seek funding to serve the CoC in conjunction with Network data efforts.

Fiscal Agency Update

Lynne Wallace, Leadership Council co-chair, presented an update on discussions around a change in the Network’s fiscal agent for the new ICHH RFR.  In view of the statewide alignment with United Ways, there was mutual agreement between PVPC and the United Way of Pioneer Valley (UWPV) that the Network would best be served with the UWPV as its fiscal agent for the new RFR (PVPC will continue to administer the ICHH grant through the extension which expires on 3/31/11).  The Steering Committee facilitated this decisionmaking process and many conversations with both PVPC and UWPV.

Andrew Morehouse and Paul Bailey raised process issues around this decision, concerned that this decision was not brought for a vote to the full Leadership Council prior to it being made.  Other members agreed that this question of fiscal agency needed to be raised as a question, not as a fact.  Pamela, on behalf of the Steering Committee, apologized for this oversight, explaining that correct process was clouded by the sense of urgency to get clear on our fiscal agent before the new RFR was released (initially projected to be issued in early October).  To ensure appropriate process in the future, the Council moved and approved unanimously that:

1.  When a time-sensitive decision must be made by the Steering Committee, notice will be provided by email to the entire Council; and

2.  At the next Leadership Council  meeting, it will be brought to the full Council for ratification.

Pamela thanked everyone for their vigilance and investment in the Leadership Council and committed to ensuring a process worthy of both.

Charlie Knight then made a motion for the Network to adopt UWPV as its fiscal agent under ICHH’s new RFR.  Peter Gagliardi seconded the motion.  The vote was unanimous in support of the motion, with Sylvia deHaas-Phillips of UWPV abstaining.

Lynne and Pamela then thanked PVPC in general and Erica Johnson in particular for all of the hard work that made the Network possible.  Jim Mazik, representing PVPC, noted that PVPC was happy to serve the Network and transitioning it to UWPV was consistent with its common practice of getting new projects off the ground and then “graduating” them elsewhere.  Thank you, PVPC!

Community Engagement

Andrew Baker, Western Mass. coordinator of the No on Question 2 campaign, made a brief presentation on the last week before the vote, urging people to sign up to hold No on 2 signs at the polls.  He thanked Council members for their contributions thus far and asked people to make a last push, including “Dear Friend” emails to their personal and professional networks, urging people to vote No on 2.  Please contact Andrew at [email protected] to hold a sign at your neighborhood poll!

We also discussed Questions 1 (repeal of the sales tax on alcohol) and 3 (rollback of the sales tax from 6.25% to 3%), which would cost revenues of approximately $100 million and $2.5 billion respectively, severely impacting Network efforts.

Motion by Charlie Knight, seconded by Jane Sanders, for the Network to endorse No votes on Questions 1 and 3.  Unanimous approval.

The  Council then brainstormed “what’s next” for Network efforts on community engagement.  Comments and ideas included:

  • We need to take a broader approach, focus on education and employment and supportive housing.  Look for ways to merge economic development with housing, e.g., Belchertown State Hospital – what is being done with that property and how can we advocate for its best use – state looking to us for pilot ideas
  • POVERTY is the underlying issue but we are required to sidestep it.  We need to look at livable wages.  We need to talk about poverty and the wealth gap.  We need to maximize income to build self-sufficiency, not just maximize public benefits.  We need to look at new and different pilot approaches.
  • Consider doing 4 events, one in each county, possibly partnering with United Ways – bring people together and say “here’s what we’re doing; what can we do for you?”  Then culminate with a large cross-county event.
  • Form alliances with Pioneer Valley Local First – focuses on engaging locally independently owned businesses.  Have suppliers be local suppliers.
  • Our role: to formulate what the message is and be able to communicate it.  Formulate the concept, communicate it the way we want to communicate it.  Struck by Crittenton Women’s Union – breaks down challenge into 3 gaps:  “hardship gap” what it takes to feed family and what you earn; “eligibility gap”; “the funding gap”; we should consider adopting that conceptual framework, begin to make connections between homelessness and other hardships around food, medical care, etc.  If we put a face to those 3 hardship gaps we will more likely succeed.
  • CDCs are a great model to look at.  CAP agencies as well – they try to address so many components.  COSA – Hampshire County social services group offers a great cross-section – they have invited us to a meeting on 11/18 – same date as our community engagement meeting (ironic!); we agreed we will reschedule comm. Engagement meeting in order to attend.
  • Need more workforce development at the table.  We need more partnerships.  We need to pick our target audience and go after it.
  • To employers who we are trying to engage:  must think very carefully about message.  The private sector in general speaks a different language, e.g., “living wage” does not resonate easily.  “Being in peril” is not enough to move people.  For foundations, for-profits:  how will we raise the common good.
  • How are we going to reallocate existing resources?  People afraid to talk about it.  What are the small things we can suggest and acknowledge that we’re moving dollars from one pot to another b/c there will be no money for the next couple of years.
  • Would love in a simple way to challenge the community to improve itself in 4 or 5 different arenas.  Community is healthy or not based on a number of indicators:  teen pregnancies; high school graduates, – where are we on the scale, how do we challenge ourselves to move closer from unhealthy to healthy.  Want to hear there is progress and want to hear this is in my own interest.
  • This  info exists on DPH website – now posting this data – used to rank communities and counties in a comparative way, even across the county.  Data available; question of how to use it.
  • Reinvesting in our own houses to make things more efficient.  How do we network keeping Housing First strong while pushing the broader program around self-sufficiency.  Use Regional Employment Boards.
  • Ten year planning process – some business leaders involved there – reach out to them, they had an interest at one point, make sure we don’t duplicate the effort.
  • Devise an “early warning system”  to help prevent homelessness among families.
  • We must move beyond state/federal  limitations.

Fundraising Update

Lynne Wallace reminded the Council where we left off in July with our brainstorm around funding asks.  We must move forward onthe next steps (including applying for funds from Community Foundation, due 1/6, and Davis Foundation, due 2/1).  We agreed to create a sub-group of the Council to focus on fundraising.  Right now, Suzanne is down to 17 hours/week  (with enough funds to last approx. 3 months) and Pamela is at 25 hours/week to last until the end of March.  Please let Pamela know if you are willing to serve on the fundraising sub-group (thanks to Dave Gadaire for already volunteering!).

Minutes of last LC meeting, July 22, 2010

Albeit out of typical meeting order, the last LC meeting minutes were reviewed.  Corrections around dates:  next meeting is January, 27, 2011 (not January 1st!) and July meeting is July 29, 2011, not the year 211.  Motion to approve minutes was unanimously approved.

Next meeting:  Thursday, January 27, 2011, Hampden County, exact location to be announced!

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