Family Services Meeting – June 14, 2011

In Attendance:  Jane Banks, Center for Human Development, Alvina Brevard, DHCD, Tammie Butler, Community Action, Cris Carl, Karen Cavanaugh, WomanShelter, Charity Day, Franklin Regional Housing Development Corporation, Ken Demers, New England Farm Workers’ Council, Dawn DiStefano, YWCA of Western Mass., Joanne Glier, Franklin County Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority, Brad Gordon, Berkshire County Regional Housing Authority, Toni Hochstadt, Community Action, Steve Huntley, Valley Opportunity Council, Mary Johnson, YWCA, Jane Lindfors, DTA Domestic Violence Unit, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Steve Plummer, Springfield Partners for Community Action,  Pamela Schwartz, network coordinator, Sarah Slautterbach, DESE, Suzanne Smith, network data analyst, Luz Vega, WomanShelter

Tornado relief update

518 rental units lost in Springfield.  W. Springfield doesn’t have an exact count yet.

Jim Reis/HAP:  Overwhelming experience.  250 families at Mass Mutual.  Working with Red Cross,  City of Springfield, DHCD.  Very chaotic.  Extremely crowded  DTA office.  Providers being asked to cover Disaster Relief Centers in Monson, Springfield, West Springfield.

Jane/CHD: covering W. Springfield emergency shelter.    32 families, about one dozen individuals.  Small percentage staying in a motel.  Very ethnically diverse population.  In desperate need of interpreters.  Steve Huntley has Iraqi interpreter on staff – will connect with Jane.  Greenfield Housing Authority another resource for interpreters; also Community Action.

Media making mistake on directing people to Mass Mutual Center – need to register with Red Cross

Command center meetings at 9 am with City of Springfield, FEMA, MEMA, state officials…

HAP needs help covering DTA office in Liberty.  One day each.  9 am to 4 pm.  Taking assessments.  Have over 500 assessments – need to focus on rehousing.

Agreed to put on blog:  Jane needs translators.  Jim and Jane need intake people.  Need housing stock.

UWPV $30K to Network:  Discussion on if/how to use $30K for tornado relief.  Immediate need is beds.   Salvation Army has committed to 50 single and 50 double beds.  FEMA decision will come this Friday.  In the next week, we’ll know more.  Will wait to hear what FEMA is doing.  Then will reconnect with Hampden County providers (since UWPV funds are limited to Hampden County).

Currently HAP has collected 125K in private funds; 50K from Catholic Charities.

Data review

Numbers of families in hotels up markedly.  At 409 in western region.

Berkshires – doesn’t measure same level of need as urban areas – HomeBASE used formula to project need that resulted in Berkshires estimate of seeing 1.2 families each month – totally inaccurate because the formula is driven by shelter population.  Penalized for not having families enter shelter beds.  Because prevent/divert, don’t register in the same way.  If you look at demographics of Berkshire County, some of the highest poverty rates, teen pregnancy rates – philosophy of prevention but now prevention/diversion resources dried up – need 2.5 to 3 FTEs for HomeBase to make this work.   Very frustrating to feel penalized for doing a good job.  In danger of being dismantled under the new system.  Understands it’s a resource issue for DHCD.

Committee agreed on Network action:  Pamela will communicate with LizBeth Heyer of DHCD to express concern for rural communities under HomeBASE program

Change in ratio of 1 case worker to 60 families (from 1/35) – lowered cost of FTE from $52K to $50K – all a resource issue, all deeply concerning.

DHCD rolled over shelter contracts for 3 months in recognition of the transition.

Unaccompanied Youth, update from Sarah Slautterbach, DESE

Aging Out Task Force (based in Cambridge) has agreed to include unaccompanied youth on its agenda.

Mass. Coalition for the Homeless’ legislation to create a task force on issue – looks promising for passage – then 9 months to get out study on needs – discussion of conference in Oct/Nov – will keep posted.

Next Meeting:  Thursday, July 12, 12:30-2:00 pm, Northampton Senior Center, 67 Conz Street, Northampton.

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