January 14, 2014
In attendance: Jane Banks, CHD, Shannon Barry, Springfield Public School, Juanita Diaz, DHCD, Oonagh Doherty, Central West Justice Project, Harry Duchesne, Erin Forbush, ServiceNet, Kim Goulettte, Loraine’s Soup Kitchen, Steve Huntley, Valley Opportunity Council, NEFWC, Wendy Kane, Community Legal Aid, Jane Lindfors, DTA/Domestic Violence Unit, Melissa Mateus, Springfield Partners, Lynn Minella, WomanShelter, Janet Mock, Square One, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Jordana O’Connell, Holyoke Public Schools, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Shannon Porter, HAPHousing, Liza Rios, YWCA, Tyler Rousseau, Square One, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Robin Sherman, FCRHRA, Sarah Slautterback, DESE, Zulman Torres, Square One/Mom Squad, Luz Vega, WomanShelter,
Reported out on Secure Jobs Connect Celebration on 1/10/14
A fantastically successful event, attended by close to 100 people, including 12 legislators, mayors, business leaders and so many Network partners. It included moving presentations by 3 women who received SJC services and shared their stories of moving from homelessness to employment to stable housing. 14 businesses received awards of appreciation for participating in the program. Legislators expressed enthusiasm for the program and businesses expressed interest in employing more SJC clients. And Undersecretary Aaron Gornstein announced the imminent release of a $1 million RFP to grow the program statewide!
Update on SDTEAP – Seven Day Temporary Emergency Assistance Program: money expended, program ceased since mid-December. Difficult to know consequence to families because of transition happening with Community Legal Aid and Mass Justice Project – MJP folded into CLA and during this transition intake has been limited. We agreed that we will know more after this next month, now that systems are up and running again, and agreed that advocates will resurrect tracking sheet used during HAP’s program to record if and when families face the threat of sleeping in places not fit for human habitation.
Lizzy Ortiz reported on one family whose building was condemned and was denied EA due to having left shelter in August (within the year). She eventually stayed with a relative.
Anthia Elliot shared the experience of a family coming from PR to live with a cousin who then decided they could not live her. She was denied EA due to the residency requirement and ended up sleeping in the emergency room. We noted that if she had enrolled her kids in school, she would have met the residency requirement. We agreed this situation was a function of limited resources (i.e., with proper information and advocacy, this situation could have been avoided).
We agreed that we cannot advocate for more funding of this program until we have some data regarding unmet need. We’ll check in on this next month.
A number of agencies statewide have already run out of RAFT funds. In our region, Berkshire County is out of funds. We discussed the possibility of the state reallocating the resources to provide more for those agencies that are entirely depleted, and then the likelihood of a supplemental budget.
Discussion of emergency food in motels
Oonagh Doherty provided an update on her effort to get emergency food in motels for families who arrive at the start of a weekend when no food is available. Kim from Lorraine’s Pantry in Chicopee attended and is prepared to offer microwaveable food packages to hotels to distribute to families in these situations. In order to do this, she needs to be able to track the distribution (for her funders). We agreed that DHCD did not need to be involved in this process – Donna Nadeau had already provided her approval – and that it is a logistical question to be worked out in partnership with provider agencies. HAP and Lorraine’s Pantry will talk more. Big thanks to Oonagh for her facilitation and to Kim and Lorraine’s Pantry for their responsiveness.
Update on HomeBASE subsidy terminations:
Return to shelter is 4% statewide. Very few families returning to shelter, largely because of the $4,000 in HomeBASE rental assistance. Most of these families will need RAFT assistance to stay housed, yet another reason why sustaining RAFT will be all-important.
Franklin County: one HB family returned to shelter, but then quickly got an MRVP voucher.
Update on new shelter capacity:
NEFWC – 42 beds
CHD – 78 beds
HAP – adding 36 in March
CHD implementing co-sheltering and it’s working great. Families have access to staff 24/7, case management, builds a sense of community with each others. Sharing units has been a very successful model, really working.
Our hotel numbers are down a bit. Down from 100 to 30 families in Greenfield motels.
Shannon Porter provided these shelter numbers (following the meeting):
As of 1/13/14:
Chicopee 211 (the largest concentration of families in the state within a single city)
West Springfield 37
2092 total state wide
Donna Nadeau: individual shelter contracts are not being re-procured (will be rolled over).
Noted that in this gubernatorial election year, the Network should have a communications strategy around Network advocacy re: family homelessness. Pamela announced Democratic governor’s forum for all candidates on Wed., 1/29, 7-9 pm at Northampton High School, Northampton. Robin and Pamela will discuss this opportunity.
Shannon Barry of Springfield Public Schools: purchased 300 brand new winter coats – if you know of a Springfield student who needs one, call Shannon at 413-787-7294.
Next meeting: Tuesday, Feb. 11, 9:30-11, Northampton Senior Center
Agenda: discuss Network recommendations on family homelessness advocacy for FY15 budget to bring to Network Leadership Council in late February.