Family Services Committee – March 13, 2012

In attendance:  Jane Banks, CHD, John Busbin, Community Legal Aid, Tammie Butler, Community Action, Cris Carl, ServiceNet, Charity Day, Franklin County Regional Housing Authority, Karen Cavanaugh, WomanShelter, Ken Demers, New England Farmworkers Council, Jen Dieringer, Community Legal Aid, Heidi DiLeone, FOR Families, Brad Gordon, Berkshire County Regional Housing Authority, Toni Hochstadt, Community Action, Steve Huntley, VOC, Jane Lindfors, DTA/DV, Ashely McGurn, FOR Families, Lizzie Ortiz, City of Springfield, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Jordana O’Connell, Holyoke Public Schools, Jim Reis, HAPHousing, Cindy  Rodolakis, Chicopee Homeless Liaison, Sarah Slautterback, DESE, Luz Vega, Womanshelter

Motel Task Force:

Jim Reis and others met with DHCD leaders to update around this effort. This collaboration may serve as a model for state.  Number of agencies have contributed, providing support to FOR families. Obtained permission for VOC to do Friday event.  Will create a list of needs for DHCD, eg a space at hotel.  Will follow this next month.

VOC Piloting event this Friday with 8 stations –  bus will provide transportation – dental services, health care for the homeless, WIC appointments, housing room (with HAP, housing authorities, DHCD), employment and financial literacy (Springfield Partners), mental health services, River Valley Counseling a presence, GED information, Square One (child care info).  Will provide entry and exit survey.

Careful not to “oversell” this initiative – impact will be inherently limited without far more resources/case management/relationship building.  Stressing to DHCD that this cannot replace sufficient state support and case management.

FOR Families policy shift  – previously covered hotels – 9 or 10 case managers – caseloads of 150-199.  DPH met with DHCD and decided to reallocate so that they can target their resources more effectively.  This means withdrawing support for some hotels altogether (Greenfield, 2 hotels in Chicopee, one in Springfield).

Franklin County:  33 families in motels.  11 are receiving HomeBASE services.  22 families getting nothing.  Considered asking DHCD for additional funding to subcontract with ServiceNet to provide services to families.

Network action:  will write letter to Bob Pulster expressing our deep concern around the lack of case management in the motels and urgency around increasing funding for this resource.  Pamela will draft and distribute to committee members for feedback.  Will determine whether to sign “on behalf of Network” or have agencies listed, depending on how many agencies obtain approval to sign their agency name.

Housing Authority meeting on 5/3/12:

Already built-in preferences that may help homeless families.  Be careful not to create unanticipated barriers or additional incentives for people to enter shelter to get preference.

We need to advocate on behalf of LHAs, need to make sure that they are adequately funded, need to repair units.  Offer solidarity.

Cultural shift in LHAs needs to happen so that they view housing more broadly, a vehicle for broader supports, to be part of a community web so families are not losing housing (eg, connect them to RAFT).  Some DV families need to be moved very quickly.  If transferring within LHAs, can take a very long time.  Would like to see transfers between housing authorities.

Governor’s budget

Discussed email conversation between Sean Caron of CHAPA and Ruth Bourquin of MLRI regarding proposed EA changes/additional restrictions.  Pamela agreed to collect email responses to discussion (out of meeting time) and relay them back to group.  Will prioritize more time for this topic at next meeting if requested.  Will update/exchange around continued conversations among statewide groups and House budget at next meeting.

Fond Farewell to Heidi DiLeone

This was Heidi’s last meeting with the Network (in her position at FOR Families) since she is leaving to take a position at DMH.  We all toasted Heidi (and ate some cake) in honor of her extraordinary work and commitment.  Thank you, Heidi, and we will miss you!

 Next meeting:  Tuesday, April, 10, 1-2:30 pm, NEFWC, 425 Main Street, Holyoke

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