Family Services Committee Meeting Minutes
November 20, 2012
In attendance: Shannon Barry, Springfield Public Schools, Bonnie Caldwell, HAPHousing, Cris Carl, ServiceNet, Karen Cavanaugh, WomanShelter, Marcia Crutchfield, HAPHousing, Anthia Elliott, Safe Passage, Steve Huntley, Valley Opportunity Council, Faith Lafayette, DPH/FOR Families, Wendy Kane, Community Legal Aid, Lisa Lapierre, New England Farm Workers Council/Corporation for Public Management, Kimberly Lee, Square One, Fran Lemay, M. Rebecca Lopez, Tenancy Preservation Project, Lynn Minella, WomanShelter, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Steve Plummer, Springfield Partners for Community Action, Jim Reis, HAPHousing, Pamela Schwartz, network coordinator, Robin Sherman, Franklin County Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority, Denise Sortino, Elizabeth Freeman Center, Rachel Trant, DCF, Luz Vega, WomanShelter
Fireman Foundation grant for workforce development for homeless families
Network submitted $300,000 grant application to Fireman Foundation to fund workforce development for homeless families. Amazing partnership with Corporation for Public Management (CPM, lead agency), Career Point, ServiceNet, the Network (specifically, Andrea Miller as data analyst and co-writer) in conceiving of and writing grant. Also relying on partnerships with many others (housing/HomeBASE providers, child care agencies, job developers, REBs, etc.). Great news is that Fireman has responded with a request to meet on December 6. Will keep everyone posted.
EA Reform Sub-Committee Update
See minutes of meeting, also attached.
Regional Housing/HomeBASE/RAFT Provider Updates
HAPHousing: motel numbers are down from 478 (7/1) to 422. HAP was just awarded 102 MRVPs to close down Quality Inn in West Springfield by mid-January.
Disappointed that Quality Inn was selected as the one to close since it is the base for provider volunteer outreach.
Another by-product of new MRVPs: creates “competition” for those looking for apartments with RAFT. MRVPs are far more appealing to landlords since they are a long-lasting subsidy
and give greater reassurance to landlords than RAFT. Pressure to find housing units! There are not enough out there!
Announcement: Bonnie Caldwell is a new hire at HAP and will serve as supervisor of the RAFT program. Welcome, Bonnie!
Franklin County Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority: $80,000 in RAFT dollars spent on 29 families. Additional $80,000 reallocated. Already 30 more families in process. Motel numbers are down from 30’s in summer to about 21. 1/3 moving with household assistance. 1/3 terminated or abandoned. 1/3 moving to shelter. 5 MRVPs allocated to region; 4 families searching for housing now with MRVP certificate. Lack of units is huge problem. RAFT is most useful to access subsidized apartment. Without that, hard to make it with RAFT as a primary tenant without another source of income. Also working on Christmas toy program in motels.
Other misc. updates:
DHCD: sent notice to housing authorities encouraging them to consider allowing families to double up without threat of eviction. This is good progress.
Motel assistance project update: agencies will continue going into other hotels (once Quality Inn closes). Met with Health Care for the Homeless; they have arranged for a doctor to visit the hotel on a weekly basis. When a family moves out of the motel into housing, they can still retain same medical care. Girl Scouts are in hotel, working with young girls, providing leadership training to girls, enlisting moms as partner leaders ($20,000 grant from UWPV for this purpose). Square One doing winter clothing drive, organizing Thanksgiving Dinner, toy drive.
HAP: awarded $500,000 for 2 years to increase foreclosure services in partnership with W. Mass. Foreclosure Center (partners across the region) – increasing financial literacy and increase foreclosure prevention services. Valley CDC and Berkshire Housing and FCRHRA will get staffing dollars. Awarded by AG (as part of national settlement)
Community Legal Aid also received funds for legal defense around foreclosure. Springfield Partners for Community Action also has foreclosure funding available for homeowners.
Other AG funds remaining for people who have lost their homes and have to move to rental housing (up to $7,000 in assistance). Contact HAP for resource information.
FOR Families: Hired new staff person. Now working in 5 hotels (newly added Howard Johnson’s in Springfield). May add another 2 hotels in December – either in Greenfield or in Chicopee, still unclear. Currently serving: Quality Inn in W. Springfield, Days Inn in Holyoke, Holyoke Hotel in Holyoke, Econo Lodge in Chicopee, Howard Johnson’s in Springfield
Wendy Kane: Community Legal Aid work shows 1/3 of families denied EA eventually became eligible for EA through advocacy. For appeal requests, cases are taking over 45 days to get a decision. A gap in the process. Shared advocacy day organized by Mass. Coalition for the Homeless (call-in day on 11/20 to urge DHCD to change EA restrictions to allow for imminent homelessness to qualify, among other things). DHCD to issue final regulation on 11/23.
Rachel Trant, DCF: 230 DCF families in motels within state. Commissioner asked staff to interview and assess each family. Just submitted findings and awaiting collation. The goal is to better learn the challenges facing these families and help them move into housing. Also provided 20 Family Unification Program vouchers (with HAP’s assistance).
DHCD asking for shelter providers to consider doubling up in scattered site shelter apartments. Intense focus on moving families out of hotels.
DV shelters are utilizing RAFT to move out families of domestic shelter, which is helping to open up space for other families in need of DV shelter. Excellent step in the right direction to allow families in DV shelters to be eligible for RAFT.
Kim Lee, Square One – receiving lots of calls from women living in motels who want to get into “Mom Squad” – Square One’s program that provides moms with community service experience (and eligibility for child care voucher). Started program in February with no funding. As of this time, 17 moms (of 25) who have gone through this program have obtained good full-time employment. Square One looking for placements in non-profit agencies who don’t have CORI restriction; also looking for other organizations willing to expand this model of providing community service/job training experience. CPM is talking with Square One about integrating this program into our Fireman Foundation proposal.
Next meeting: Tuesday, 12/11, 1-2:30 pm, Hoyoke.