Family Services Committee Meeting Minutes
March 11, 2014

 In attendance:  Shannon Barry, Springfield Public Schools, Brenda Barcome, YWCA/New Beginnings, Cris Carl, ServiceNet/Greenfield Family Inn, Jenni Delmonte, Tenancy Preservation Project, Ken Demers, New England Farm Workers Council, Brenda Douglas, Square One, Michelle Geoffroy, Wendy Kane, Community Legal Aid, Faith Lafayette, FORFamilies, Lisa Lapierre, CPM, Secure Jobs Connect, Jane Lindfors, DTA/DV, Jordana O’Connell, Holyoke Public Schools, Maria Perez, HOPWA, Steve Plummer, Springfield Partners, Shannon Porter, HAPHousing, Lourdes Sariol, DHCD, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Robin Sherman, Franklin County Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority

Point in Time Count (conducted 1/29, across the entire region via our 2 CoC’s, Hampden County and Three County) Preliminary report distributed.  Click here.  More detailed analyses to come, especially re: homeless families once the CoC’s have integrated HMIS data into findings.

Network’s legislative priorities for Fiscal Year 2015.  Pamela distributed the priorities as decided by the Network’s Leadership Council.  The Network adopted the Committee’s recommendation to amend the EA language to allow families within 24 hours of staying in placed unfit for human habitation to be eligible for shelter.  Click here to review.

Network Strategic Planning Update:  Pamela updated the committee on the Network’s strategic planning process and the decision to incorporate the federal “Opening Doors” plan to prevent and end homelessness as the basis for its regional efforts.  Stay tuned for further definition and details on implementation.  Click here for overview of the Plan’s goals, specifically the first 2 objectives pertaining to leadership on collaboration and building the knowledge capacity, as they pertain to the Network’s mission.

Commonwealth Corporation Jobs Update:  Lisa Lapierre of CPM’s Secure Jobs updated the committee on the launch of this newly funded initiative – Western Employment Homeless Network (WHEN) –  an extension of Secure Jobs Connect which serves BOTH homeless families and individuals.  The program is now taking referrals.  Services offered in 4 sites:  CPM in Holyoke, Franklin/Hampshire Career Center (Greenfield and Northampton), ServiceNet (Pittsfield) and Construct (Great Barrington).    This grant focuses primarily on Hampshire, Franklin and Berkshire counties.  Click here for referral form.

Fireman Foundation Secure Jobs Update:  3 weeks remaining in 1 year funding; following year will be focused exclusively on retention.  Working in these final weeks to increase job placements (goal was 75, currently at 53).  But when looking in concert with HAPHousing’s collaborations with CareerPoint and FutureWorks and the shared referral system among all groups, the numbers are far in excess of goals.  HAP collaborations have placed 114 heads of households into jobs.

Exciting development on possible car ownership program with Holyoke Credit Union  and Ford dealer in Holyoke.  Working with Rep. Vega’s support and assistance.  Will keep us posted once it’s off the ground; could be a model for the region.

DHCD RFR update:  Shannon reported on the imminent submission of a regional response to DHCD’s RFR to support job development for homeless families.  Modeled after SJC program.  Maximum grant is $250,000, which is not enough to sustain our current collaborations entirely but will allow us critical continuity.  Important expansion of program will serve all homeless families – RAFT, HomeBASE, motels, shelter.  HAP will be lead agency, working closely with partners (CPM, CareerPoint, Future Works).

Fireman Foundation supplemental funding:   The Fireman Foundation will be matching DHCD funding after DHCD decisions are made, either by expanding in regions of the state not yet served or in rounding out DHCD funded projects.  The Network will seek such “rounding out” for Franklin and Berkshire Counties in order to meet the region’s needs.

MassLEAP – This is a new DHCD pilot program being launched this Spring for families in state public housing or with an MRVP subsidy.  Income and asset building program (similar to federal Family Self-Sufficiency Program) –  this program would allow tenants to escrow savings as a result of increasing income that they would have otherwise needed to pay rent.  DHCD has RFR out for housing authorities to run this program.  HAP will be lead agency and is currently reaching out to all housing authorities in the region to participate.

Updates from Lourdes Sariol, DHCD/child care:  Distributed information about “First Books” for books on Spanish and the Latina culture for older grades.  Contact Lourdes for more information at: [email protected]

Institute for Children and Poverty  also has a great number of books; Lourdes is happy to facilitate a share (gear for up to 3rd grade).

Urged participants in training done on ASQ’s to complete survey monkey on the training.  Please spread the word to staff in your agency who participated.

ICHH cross training group will be sponsoring training for new immigrants in 3 state areas, including the Western region.  Looking for trainers, includes stipends.  Contact Lourdes for more information

Other updates:

  • Next hotel task force meeting:  March 28, 9:30-11 am, 1095 Main Street, Springfield (Square One).
  • Cris Carl:  In response to spike in heroin use, trainings are being offered on how to administer the drug Narcan (for anti-overdose).  In Greenfield, call 413-744-5489.
  • Square One:  Homeless child care slots are available.  Call 413-855-1108.
  • For Families:  very close to hiring additional staff person, which will allow them to cover all Western hotels (right now not in 2 of them).  Yeisie Mateo of DCF is now covering 2 hotels in Springfield and West Springfield as part of an inter-agency collaboration.
  • Shannon Porter:  on RAFT: Hampden/Hampshire County funds remaining.  HAP has just opened its residential resource center for 36 families, 19 units, in Orange Street in Springfield.  24/7 staff, support services, renovated facility.
  • Robin Sherman: Franklin County:  still has RAFT funds – refer to Franklin County Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority for this resource.State is shifting from hotel to congregate model.  If properly staffed, could be a good model.

On data collection for families facing emergency housing needs (follow-up from end of Seven Day Temporary Emergency Assistance Program):  Wendy Kane located forms for data collection to track these families.  All agreed very important to track.  Wendy will send Pamela form who will send it out to all.  Click here for tracking form.

Follow-up on discussion of presumptive eligibility.  Shared Donna Nadeau’s information she shared on the process:

“I looked into the presumptive status of families.  When a family is placed, Presumptive status is written directly on the family’s letter that they receive from the Placement Office.  Nothing is sent directly to the Provider where the family is being placed.  If the Provider requests to see the letter then they would see the status.  A family is placed presumptively if they do not have all of the information requested at the time of EA determination.  If there is someone from the DTA Office at the meeting then they should be able to tell you what is asked or get you a copy.  I am still waiting to get a copy of the questions.”

Faith of For Families said they are sent notice but other providers say they are not.  Several providers noted that they always have to cross-check the hotel roster to ensure all families are accounted for.  There was general agreement that there are still gaps in this process.

Pamela agreed she would reach out to Alvina Brevard to try to set up a meeting on this issue.

Next meeting:

Tuesday, April 8, 9:30-11, Northampton

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