Family Services Meeting Minutes
October 8, 2013
In attendance: Iman Abdulrazzak, Community Legal Aid, Jane Banks, Center for Human Development, Shannon Barry, Springfield Public Schools, Toni Bator, HAPHousing, Alvina Brevard, DHCD, Bonnie Caldwell, HAPHousing, Courtney Clemente, Community Legal Aid, Dawn DiStefano, YWCA of Western Massachusetts, Charity Day, Franklin County Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority, Oonagh Doherty, Mass Justice Project, Linda Driscoll, Tenancy Preservation Project, Anthia Elliot, Safe Passage, Community Legal Aid, Hwei-Ling Greeney, Amherst Community Connection/Amherst Transitional Housing Program, Faith Lafayette, DPH/FOR Families, Kim Lee, Square One, Jane Lindfors, DTA/DV Unit, Janet Mock, Square One, Lynn Minella, WomanShelter/Companeras, Jordana O’Connell, Holyoke Public Schools, Lizzy Ortiz, Springfield Housing Department, Shannon Porter, HAPHousing, Tyler Rousseau, Square One, CSO, Lourdes Sariol, DHCD, Pamela Schwartz, Network coordinator, Luz Vega, WomanShelter, Lauren Voyer, HAPHousing,
Workforce Development Update:
Secure Jobs Connect working in close collaboration with HAP partnerships with CareerPoint and FutureWorks, as well as Square One (“Mom Squad”). All together, roughly 150 families placed into employment. Click here to review the graphic provided by Andrea Miller that captures the collaboration (thanks to Andrea!). Overall a very successful model with documented success. Fireman Foundation also appreciates the collaboration and is working on acquiring funding to extend and expand the project statewide.
Noted that all homeless families are eligible for HAP and Square One employment programs (not just HomeBASE families, as is dictated by Fireman funding right now). If have questions about which program is appropriate, please email Toni Bator of HAP at email@example.com to obtain referral.
Discussed the ongoing challenge of insufficient child care vouchers. Right now, statewide there are 637 DHCD homeless child care slots and western Mass. has about 200 of them. A fraction of what is needed to meet the need.
Also discussed the continuity of HAP funded programs and how it depends on DHCD support (currently supported through stabilization funds this fiscal year)
Square One’s Mom Squad has seen great success. Go to: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCeRvDD-307AUJZMSTNElYCg to see the video produced that captures the success! As of 9/30, Square One will lose DHCD funding for its staff person ($50,000). They are pulling together funding from other misc. private sources for the next couple of months. We all agreed that we cannot lose the program and will stay posted on funding so the Network can respond as needed.
Kim Lee (of Square One) urged providers to consider employing these “moms” in community service positions in their organizations (supervision provided through Square One staff person). Contact Kim for more information and to discuss further (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Alvina Brevard, DHCD, provided update: Alvina is now statewide Acting Director of Field Operations (congratulations, Alvina!). The number of homeless families continues to grow: DHCD has reopened all 11 motels that were previously closed. Currently experiencing the challenging of having to shelter families more than 20 miles beyond home community, although this problem is being addressed by opening up new congregate shelters and scattered site apartments. There will 400 more shelter units available within the year.
Noted that roughly 3% of Western Mass. families coming to the front door of DHS (Division of Housing Stabliization within DHCD, located at DTA offices) are utilizing HomeBASE rental assistance ($4,000). Statewide that number is 5%. DHCD’s goal is to get to 15%.
The dynamics/barriers have not changed: many families have exhausted all their resources, exhausted all their options to return to family or friends. Therefore, rental assistance cannot address their needs.
Less than 20% of families whose HomeBASE subsidies have terminated are returning to shelter (higher than anticipated). The financial stress for these families is extremely great, many facing decisions about whether to buy milk or pay the rent.
Yesterday there were 52 families at the front door of Liberty Street DTA office (generally around 35 families).
Many of the families returning to shelter – yesterday 52 at Liberty Street – generally around 35.
There is extreme lack of affordable housing. In Boston, there is nothing available under $1,200/month. MRVPs are frozen for the year (beyond the 1,000 new vouchers just passed in this last budget cycle).
Section 8 wait list for Hampden/Hampshire Counties is 23,000 names long. Currently serves 2,000 families.
Discussion of Seven Day Temporary Emergency Assistance Program (SDTEAP, part of RAFT).
Alvina described the program primarily as a safety net for families who are NOT eligible for EA (as opposed to an entitlement program). Families may be over-income for EA, may not be a resident of MA, evicted from subsidized housing or having prior criminal record, in other words in some way fail to meet EA eligibility critieria but still need a place of shelter. SDTEAP is a very limited program, allocated $500,000 statewide for the entire year. We must recognize that some families will not be provided the assistance.
However, no one is turned away if they have no place to go. DHCD will reach out to families/friends directly to ask for assistance during the 3 day assessment period. Alvina encourages any provider or advocate to call her directly on her cell phone if there is a family in urgent need who is not being served. Her cell phone number is: 857-272-4484
Oonagh Doherty distributed a hand-out that provides guidance for families who have been relocated to hotels outside their home community (thank you, Oonagh!). Click here to review.
Franklin Count y update: 97 families living in Greenfield hotels; 13 from Franklin County, 54 from out of area. RAFT money going quickly. Rose Evans of DHCD visiting Greenfield Housing Task Force meeting tomorrow.
FOR Families update: Ashley Mcgurn resigned in August. 4 FOR Families staff for 400 families. Another staff person on medical leave.
Agreed that we need to review the data regarding this family homelessness crisis and devise a Network response. Agreed that it requires an advocacy response. Pamela agreed to collate data with Alvina and Andrea’s help and reach out to DHCD Undersecretary Aaron Gornstein.
Note: For monthly homeless family data provided by data analyst Andrea Miller, you can find it on the Network website by clicking here.
Next meeting: November 12, 1 – 2:30, NEFWC, 225 High Street, Holyoke
Meeting agenda: Network response to family homelessness crisis