Leadership Council Meeting Minutes – April 26, 2012

In attendance:  Father Stan Aksamit, Our Lady of Peace Parish, Jim Ayres, United Way of Hampshire County, Mary Jane Bacon, Senator Rosenberg’s Office, Jane Banks, Center for Human Development, Jennifer Breen Kirsch, North Adams City Council, Tim Brennan, Pioneer Valley Planning Project, Pat Byrnes, Berkshire Housing Development Corporation, Dave Christopolis, Hilltown Community Development Corporation, Steve Como, Soldier On, Sylvia deHaas-Phillips, United Way of Pioneer Valley, Ken Demers, New England Farm Workers Council, Rabbi Justin David, Congregational B’nai Israel, Doreen Fadus, Mercy Medical Center, David Gadaire, CareerPoint, Paul Gage, Family Life Support Center, Peter Gagliardi, HAPHousing, Clare Higgins, Community Action, Joanne Glier, DTA, Jennifer Hohn, North Adams Housing Authority, Steve Huntley, Valley Opportunity Council, Peg Keller, City of Northampton, Charlie Knight, former consumer, Kim Lee, Square One, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Diana McLean, City of Westfield, Andrea Miller, network data analyst, Bill Miller, Friends of the Homeless, David Modzelewski, Mental Health Associates, Andrew Morehouse, Food Bank of Western Mass.,  Rebecca Muller, GrantWorks, Jerry Ray, Mental Health Associates, Mary Reardon Johnson, YWCA of Western Mass., Paul Robbins, Paul Robbins & Associates, Jay Sacchetti, ServiceNet, Pamela Schwartz, network coordinator, Robin Sherman, Franklin County Regional Housing Authority, Linda Stacy, United Way of Franklin County, Nancy Stoll, United Way of Berkshire County, Liz Sullivan, Mental Health Associates, Lynne Wallace, Dietz&Co. Architects

Special guests:  Sean Caron, CHAPA; Lindsay Koshgarian, UMass Donahue Institute

Sean Caron, legislative director, CHAPA presented on state budget and housing/homelessness issues:

Click here for Sean’s hand-out on budget update.  House budget debate just completed.  Governor’s budget increased funding for many programs with new restrictions on shelter.  Strong focus on housing at same time restricting access to shelter.  House mostly agreed with the Governor’s vision.

Some highlights:

  • MRVP $10 million increase in House budget – increase of 800-900 rental vouchers.
  • Didn’t include supportive housing program of MRVP in House budget – only targeted at families in hotels and shelters as of 4/1/12.  No new families entering shelter in FY13 would receive MRVPs.  CHAPA not supportive of this b/c arbitrary determination of families who would be served based on point in time.
  • RAFT – homelessness prevention program.  Same as Governor’s budget:  90% of RAFT resources to people who earn 35% of median income or less.  65% will be targeted to 15% or less.  Trying to get resources out earlier in housing crisis – up to $4,000 in assistance.
  • Public housing assistance – $2 million increase (down from Governor’s budget but still good).
  • Home and Healthy for Good sees $200,000 increase from House budget.
  • HomeBASE program continues to evolve quickly.  Available as rental assistance for those who received initial assistance in FY12, maximum of 2 years’ assistance (instead of the former 3).  For new households in FY13, households can get financial assistance to divert from shelter or to exit shelter.  Maximum $4,000 in financial assistance (with some stabilization services).  Same in Gov and House budget.  Funded at $83 million.
  • Emergency Assistance:  went along with Governor’s budget.  Gov had 8 month timeline; House extended by 1 month to 9 month time limit.   CHAPA:  opposed to this.
  • Restricting eligibility to 4 categories of households: victims of natural disasters, evicted due to loss of job, medical condition, victim of domestic violence, people doubled up and health and safety risk (House: health and safety risk defined by state sanitary code; Gov: asks DCF to go in and certify).  CHAPA: more restrictive than hoped.
  • House budget:  commission on how to serve unaccompanied homeless youth.  CHAPA:  a good thing.  Currently almost no programs for these kids.
  • Tenancy Preservation Program – Gov increased substantially.  Not increased in House budget.  Amendment failed.  Huge problem since DHCD already planning to cut back TPP in other areas.
  • Network funding.  Gov. proposed $1 million.  Not included in House budget.  Amendment failed. Network argument to Senate:  Networks leverage other resources – if they don’t exist, will lose out on private resources.

Now Senate will take turn on budget – Senate Ways and Means Budget expected to come out mid-May, a few days to file amendments and then start to debate.  Before Memorial Day expect to be finished.  Then conference.  Then final by 6/30.

Discussion of political process:   didn’t hear groundswell of support among members for TPP.  House was very focused on families in shelter/hotels.  Clearly highest priority.  Other priorities may suffer for it.

Less debate now than 5 years ago.  Not sure what is contributing to that.  Budget still in poor shape.  Less money to go around.

Big budget picture:  housing and homelessness got the hugest increase, after Local Aid, of all programs.  They have put more resources on the table than any time in recent memory.

Mary Jane Bacon, Senator Rosenberg’s office, suggests message to Senate:  understand that with this level of investment,  if you don’t fund smaller programs to other populations, also for coordination, will not see return on investment.

Peter Gagliardi, HAP:  logic of Gov’s budget was to disconnect housing assistance from shelters/motels.  100,000 people on waiting list for Section 8 – 25,000 in Hampden/Hampshire County.

Clare Higgins, Community Action:  no one wants to pay for staff.  United Ways will be getting a lot more asks since all non-profits are being asked to find matching dollars for staff.  Raises big policy question around adequate support for the staff it takes to administer programs  Issue of adequate admin and support for staff requires larger policy focus.

Jim Ayres, Hampshire United Way:  do we fund special projects or fund staff?  Same pressure to support projects.  Needs to have private/public match.

Sean:  MRVP – cut admin fee by 8% despite big increase.  How to expect work to get done?

Need people advocating for staff to be other than staff to avoid charge of “self-interest.”

Advocacy for Network funding 

Kim Lee, Square One:  Network advocacy – focus on the leveraging – for every dollar invested, here’s what we’re able to bring in…

Dave Christopolis, Hilltown CDC:  5/3 CDC lobby day at statehouse.  Requested Network hand-out

Pamela will produce hand-out early next week for distribution.

Presentation by Lindsay Koshgarian of UMass Donahue Institute on the Education and Workforce Action Plan for Homeless and At-Risk Families

Click here for the report.


Andrew Morehouse, Food Bank:  Look at Crittenden Women’s Project, particularly a volunteer program relying“mobility workers”

Lindsay:  must have something concrete to offer.  Familiar with it.  Accounts and financial literacy very important – didn’t make it on list of recommendations just because so many things to do.

Bill Miller, Friends of the Homeless: health and human services 3rd largest employer – need to marry these two things together better – very tough as an employer – ways we can get other people who are hiring involved in this.  Challenges are profound – we can do more.

Rebecca Muller, Grantworks:  wants to consider issue of whether people have to be stable before getting jobs.  Similar to housing first – we don’t wait but start talking about employment right away.  With few strategic supports, could help navigate critical moments.  Can we convince people to think more about an integrative model?

Dave Gadaire, Career Point –  Find good models, bring them to business community, invite them to join without violating good business model and the need to meet bottom line.

Dave Modzelewski, Mental Health Associates – consider taking a set of services, all of which are already in place.  Housing providers could use existing resources that may be redirected to specific set of families (coming out of hotels).  Load other services into that model.  Employment specialist with housing stabilization piece, day care, health care.

Dave G, CareerPoint – bring front line workers of different orgs together – first step on the road to that integration.

Clare Higgins, Community Action  – reduce number of people who are case managing a family.  Roundtable approach to case management.  Head Start requiring 2 year self-sufficiency plan.  Happening everywhere.  No one paying for it.  Could be working at odds unless we coordinate.

Robin Sherman, Franklin Housing Authority:  for neediest families, they need very intensive services, therefore will serve fewer families, therefore less appealing to funders…What does self-sufficiency mean and by what timeline?  Can take 10 years for a family to become self-sufficient.

Lindsay Koshgarian, UMass Donahue Institute:  even best practice programs = very slow progress.  This requires educating funders and policymakers

Peter Gagliardi, HAP:  Where is value-added from this proposal?  Obligation to reach out to private sector and to business community and others to help bring them along .

Jim Ayres, United Way of Hampshire County:  key is metrics of what constituents progress, e.g., finding child care, attending school, not just ultimate of “getting and keeping job.”

Peg Keller, City of Northampton:  will use current work with Downtown Resource Center coalition – business owners, police, providers – as a springboard for this discussion – how to apply this group’s energy to providing opportunity and support to homeless families.

Jay Levy, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services:  SAMHSA also has a metric for self-sufficiency – using 1 year to connect individuals with other services.

Charlie Knight, former consumer:  based on experience with prior programs, teach people how to value progress, success, doesn’t have to take a lot of money .  Need to have collaboration so the person has only one family to deal with instead of having them shuttled from agency to agency.

Dave Christopolis, Hilltown CDC:   See page 16 of report – overarching problem insufficient funding.  Take an aggressive approach to finding other funding sources.   Happy to host Network partners to research newly acquired foundation database to do targeted searching to match resources that are out there.  We need to get more aggressive!

Mary Jane Bacon, Senator Rosenberg’s office:  seems like looking at this as building new system.  But it’s really a companion to career centers – more doable at least in the beginning to use existing case managers that we have – bring on 1 or 2 people in circuit riding – can we make matches between clients and services they are eligible for within existing career centers.  Figure out if there is a need to work with business people, help unlock other opportunities.  Try and stay away from anything to do with unemployment money – build towards sustainability but don’t get caught up in measures of success that will fail.

Kim Lee, Square One:  Not looking for new money but instead looking at how to use existing money more efficiently.  Every 3 years, providers such as Square One and VOC, who apply for contracts for Dept. of Early Education and Care to provide services for homeless, teens, DCF families – priority populations contracts.  Contract comes with funding to pay for case manager who works with families on individual services plan.    Must look at all contracts.  Look at priority populations contracts to see what is possible.  Give that case manager additional training to include workforce development and training needs.

Nancy Stoll, Berkshire United Way – on the right track.  Put together a pilot program that incorporates this collective knowledge.  BUW is desperate to find an integrated approach to financial stability.  All of the integrated services are necessary.  United Way alone can’t fund entirely but if packaged that way, could jump on it.

Clare Higgins, Community Action:  Take FSS (federal) model where you put aside money and match, specifically for families in motels and shelters.  Create incentive.  Could we do matching accounts?  Need to find money to match – must change incentive.  Another incentive in more rural counties is how we help people with transportation.

Can start now with roundtable discussion around families at most risk in motels.  What releases are necessary?  Let’s get started.

Jay Sacchetti, ServiceNet:  wide array of vocational services at ServiceNet.  Through Greenfield Family Inn, they have support system that can provide assistance.  Starting to work with employment efforts in a small way.  ServiceNet could do a pilot program.  Job developer is a specialized thing – work is work – needs to be separated from everything else – makes it difficult to hold onto it unless you really focus on it.  Has over 400 employer contacts.  To expand that to homeless population, if have dedicated job developer, could do it easily.  Injecting culture of work to younger population is more difficult.  Willing to work with Dave C to find some grant money to develop small system to make first family successful.  If you get first family in place, creates environment of encouraging others.

Dave Modzelewski, Mental Health Associates – possible to create existing set-asides for housing for families selected to participate?

Peter Gagliardi,HAP:  if supportive housing piece from Gov’s budget (not in House), more optimistic that this would be possible.

Robin Sherman, Franklin County Housing:  if we have a pilot with families ready to work, will be more successful with families who are moving out with a voucher.  Can select families who are already accessing long-term housing.

Follow-up steps:

1.  Dave Christopolis will host Network members to search out funding opportunities.

2.  Pamela will follow-up with Workforce Action Plan Steering Committee re: roundtable around coordination of services/incentives (Clare) and development of metrics (Clare, Jim, Jay, Robin).

Housing Authority Update :  Pamela reported that the Network is hosting a meeting on Thursday, May 5, at the Kittredge Center at Holyoke Community College, 10 am – 12 noon, of housing authority directors and staff, DHCD leaders, housing providers, city leaders and many others to explore the intersection of public housing authorities and preventing and ending homelessness.

Three County Continuum of Care: Peg Keller announced that the COC is undergoing administrative transition as the City of Northampton will no longer be the lead agency.  Meetings are underway among all 3 CoCs to maximize the opportunity for the best configuration across the region.

Hampden County Motel Task Force:  This group has been meeting every other week to target neediest families in motels in Hampden County.  Working with broad range of providers and DHCD.  Received $5K from Beverage Foundation for basic emergency supplies, such as diapers, formula.  Developing pilot programs in hotels; DHCD is looking at western mass as a model. Exciting and meaningful collaboration!

Minutes from January meeting:  Charlie Knight moved to approve.  Jane Banks seconded.  All in favor.

Network Funding Discussion: State funding clearly at risk.    Agreed we must organize to secure funding, collect success stories on impact and success on leveraging private funds.

Next meeting: Wed., July 25, 10 am – 12 noon, Our Lady of Peace Parish, Turners Falls.

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