EA Reform Sub-Committee Meeting
November 9, 2012

In attendance:  Alvina Brevard, DHCD, Oonagh Doherty, Mass. Justice Project, Steve Huntley, VOC, Wendy Kane, Western Mass. Legal Services, Jim Reis, HAP, Pamela Schwartz, network coordinator, Robin Sherman, Franklin County Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority

Status of families in VOC/HAP hotels:

3 families currently in VOC hotel.  1 just moved out, now EA eligible.  Others all deemed RAFT eligible.

HAP housed 9 families.  HAP down to 2 families now living in motels.

Total hotel costs thus far: $4,700.

Another family EA denied, but now living in church basement.  Waiting on EA appeal.  Applied for RAFT.

Between October 2 – November 9: 14 families came to our attention as in need of emergency assistance and not eligible for EA.

Preliminary, Rough Findings:

30-40% ineligible for EA because of old rules, e.g., leaving subsidized housing; 60% because of new roles, ineligible because doubled-up and had no place to go, didn’t meet specifications.

With Alvina’s assistance and re-examining “couch-surfing” definition, a few families became eligible for EA.

Lizzy sent 2 to HAP/VOC.  One was not eligible for EA – did not complete application.

Wendy referred 2 families to HAP.  One family rushed inspection on Section 8 apartment.

Another family had EA denial based on old rules of abandoning subsidized housing in PR.  Still waiting on DHCD decision after 45 days.  Have yet to hear on RAFT application.  Alvina will check on hearing appeal status.

Jim:  A number of families who are eligible for RAFT have been unable to find an apartment.  These tenants can have complicated credit history and landlords discover it and reject them as tenants.

Wendy:  need to maximize families’ income situation in order to improve chances for obtaining apartment.  Legal services and MJP should collaborate with HAP to maximize income.

For MJP assistance in maximizing income:  Go to http://majp.org to complete an online application.

If it’s an EA application denial, call Oonagh directly: 322-7415

Also useful to know of families who are not assisted by VOC/HAP but who have still been denied.

Lizzy:  the requirement to have lead-free certified apartments can also pose barrier.

For families not eligible under new rules but are RAFT eligible: what is the waiting period, how long to turn applications around, what is the cost?  e.g., should we advocate using RAFT to pay for families in hotels during waiting period?

RAFT is most successful when used with a subsidy.  In other instances, with bad credit history and limited income, very difficult for families to find apartment.

Need to cover 2-3 week gap between finding of EA ineligibility and RAFT finding of eligibility

Alvina wants names of 14 families, can confirm that they entered system, identify basis for denial.  Would be great to have spread-sheet

Wendy also interested in seeing number of applications made to DHCD, approved or denied.  Alvina will inquire about obtaining this information.

Jim and Steve will talk and address question of creating spreadsheet and more concrete collation of data from families using their resources.

Wendy and Oonagh will be sure to submit their EA forms to Steve, Jim and Alvina.

Tuesday, 11/20, 8:30 am, Northampton Senior Center, immediately in advance of regular family services meeting at 9:30 am

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