Family Services Committee Meeting Minutes – 2/14/12

In Attendance:  Jane Banks, Center for Human Development, Shannon Barry, Springfield Public Schools, Alvina Brevard, DHCD, Tammie Butler, Community Action, John Busbin, Community Legal Aid, Cris Carl, ServiceNet, Heidi DeLeone, FOR Families, Ken Demers, New England Farm Workers Council, Anthia Elliot Safe Passage, Peter Gagliardi, HAPHousing, Brad Gordon, Berkshire Housing and Consumer Center,  Steve Huntley, VOC, Fran Lemay, ServiceNet, Jane Lindfors, DTA/DV unit, Ashley McGurn, FOR Families, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Jordana O’Connell, Holyoke Public Schools,  Stephen Plummer, Springfield Partners for Community Action, Jim Reis, HAPHousing, Jay Sacchetti, ServiceNet, Pamela Schwartz, network coordinator, Sarah Slautterback, DESE,  Rachel Trant, DCF, Luz Vega, WomanShelter/Companeras,

Governor’s Budget discussion:

Updated on $1 million to ICCH/networks.  Would fund regional coordination, ICHH and some small projects (parameters to be determined).

Peter Gagliardi:  participated in CHAPA meetings with broad coalition in advance of  Governor’s recommendation.  Together, approached challenge of dealing with pent up demand for housing vis-à-vis limited funding while ensuring that no families stay safe.  Cannot link vouchers to shelter (100,000 people on subsidy wait list statewide).  Aiming to close out use of motels without doing injury.  We can’t solve the problem of doubling up (unless threat to health and safety) within the Commonwealth alone (the federal government virtually shut off subsidies since 1980’s).  Use RAFT to prevent homelessness.  Use MRVP for families who need longer term assistance to get stabilized.  Long-range plan over 3 years is to see MRVP grow substantially.  The growth would come out of savings from the motel side.  CHAPA committee is continuing to convene to negotiate differences.  New DHCD Undersecretary of Housing, Aaron Gornstein, has spent career trying to build consensus.

Cris Carl:  has been supportive of MRVP increase for a very long time.  Clearly a better alternative than shelter/motels.

Brad Gordon:  Macro ideas are really good.  Need to be careful to not inadvertently hurt people.  This is a good start.  Every time we address policy concerns, we need to strike balance.  No perfect solution.  We have to continue as a group to be sure the micros of the program make sense.  Targeting is difficult.  DHCD has really listened and responded with these increases; at the same time understands concerns of advocates (e.g., MLRI) and wants to attend to them as fully as possible.  A lot of this success is dependent on our ability to access other mainstream resources, e.g., day care vouchers and employment training programs.  We as a network need to weigh in on these issues as well.

Jim Reis:  distributed article on Dennis Culhane and why HomeBASE didn’t work first time around (over-linkage between shelter and subsidy).  Re: RAFT funds:  need to really target and prioritize.

Re:  rehousing motel population.  As of 7/1/12, maximum amount to use to rehouse will be $4,000.  Will make it very difficult to make meaningful inroads in lowering population.  DHCD estimates 1,800 people in motels by 7/1/12 and 2,000 in shelters.  A real challenge that is cause for great concern.

Informal poll on committee’s response to Governor’s budget:  vast majority in support; 5 abstentions.  None opposed.  Pamela will bring this feedback to Network steering committee as network position/advocacy is further considered.

The Network is co-sponsoring legislative briefing with CHAPA at HAP on 3/12.  We will be clear about our position by that point.

Hampden County Hotel Task Force:

Group has met a couple of times.  Providers and state agencies are coming together to support FOR Families’ services in hotels.  Kim Lee of Square One is currently pursuing the possibility of a  Vista volunteer to coordinate the effort.

Crafting request to DHCD around permission to work with families in hotels and will ask DHCD to augment their services, e.g., rent meeting room at motels, additional taxi money for transportation

Steve Huntley, VOC – will provide off-site program for families Holyoke Inn, Chicopee Econo-Lodge:  140 kids under 5 living in Holyoke and Chicopee.  VOC will provide school bus to pick up 20-30 families on Fridays to provide services, e.g, WIC applications, SNAP benefit help, job ready conversations, Mercy Medical Center Health Care for the Homeless, dental care, GED information, parenting classes and support groups and mental health support.  Will enlist volunteers to read to kids, provide books upon departure.

CHD has an off-site location in West Springfield, will serve families of West Springfield Quality Inn.

On-site work will focus on Chicopee Econo-Lodge; West Springfield Quality Inn.

Jane Banks:  explore getting businesses more involved in support role for families, providing goods and services.

Providers’  completion of hotel resources questionnaire is a top priority!

Once task force proposal is complete, Pamela and Network will play facilitating role around conversations with DHCD re: implementation.


Rachel Trant, DCF: reminded all of  Family Unification Program (FUP – see attachment for details on eligibility critieria).  Offers Section 8 vouchers and prioritizes   DCF staff puts referral on list.  Rachel volunteered to work with VOC’s program for hotel families.

Alvina raised the question of DCF facilitating an automatic referral to this waitlist for families moving into hotels.  Rachel will follow-up to see if possible.


Brad raised question re: ESG funding criteria.  One proposal out of each CoC region.  Need  from CoC and DHCD will also require some certification from Network.

Unaccompanied homeless youth working group:  met for the first time last week, next meeting date tentatively 3/28.  Inviting more state agencies (DCF, DMH, DYS) to begin brainstorm on collaboration re: housing resources for this population.

Next meeting:  3/13, Northampton, 9:30 am Northampton

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