Secure Jobs Connect Advisory Committee
March 11, 2014

 In attendance: Sara Chaganti, Brandeis, Ken  Demers, New England Farm Workers Council, Lisa LaPierre, Secure Jobs Connect (CPM), Mike Morris, SJC (CPM), Darlene Morse (CareerPoint), Rexene Picard, FutureWorks, Shannon Porter, HAPHousing, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Robin Sherman, Franklin County Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority, Ken White, Holyoke Community College

Fireman Foundation Update:
In last 3 weeks of Year 1 to enroll participants (Year 2 will exclusively focus on job retention).  Click here for current numbers.   Will continue to build enrollment for remaining weeks.  At 53 job placements as of today (2 higher than attachment states as new enrollees occurred earlier today!).  Our goals review must be looked at in conjunction with HAPHousing collaboration as cross-referrals among programs affected referral rate for CPM and all partners worked together on meeting goals.  HAP partnerships (with CareerPoint and Future Workers) have placed 114 individuals in jobs thus far, bringing total number with new jobs to 167!

DHCD RFR ($1 million total statewide, $250,000 maximum grant, 5 grants statewide):  Application being submitted this week.  HAPHousing is lead agency in collaboration with CPM, CareerPoint and FutureWorks.  This proposal is a reflection of the Fireman initiative’s success since this proposal is modeled on Secure Jobs and expands the populations to be served (beyond HomeBASE, all EA/motel, RAFT families).  There is excitement about our application and the capacity it will provide to sustain our program.

Fireman Foundation matching funds:  The Fireman Foundation will provide matching funds after the DHCD process is complete.  We will pursue funding in order to make our region whole, providing services to Franklin and Berkshire Counties.

Commonwealth Corporation program:  Program called Western Homeless Employment Network (WHEN), new staff with new partners (Franklin/Hampshire Career Center, Construct) were trained last week.  Both individuals and families are eligible for job support in this program.  Can serve both unemployed and under-employed (no more than 14% of contract and must raise income more than CC’s investment per individual).  In order to be considered working full-time, must work a minimum of 35 hours.  It was noted that many medical profession jobs are 32 hours with benefits.  CommCorp did not consent to that kind of position being treated as full-time.  We will see how this limitation unfolds as the program gets underway and follow-up as needed.  Taking referrals now!  70% of the contract enrollments will occur in Franklin/Hampshire/Berkshire Counties; 30% in Hampden.  Click here for referral form.

MassLEAP – new DHCD asset and income building program for families in public housing or who have an MRVP subsidy.  Like a federal self sufficiency program – this program would provide participating families with budgeting and financial assistance services, job training and placement and access to higher education –  to the extent they increase their income, increase in rent would be escrowed.  DHCD pilot program – will fund 4-8 pilots.  Has to be a collaborative program.  HAPHousing will be the lead agency for Western Mass. with participating housing authorities.  DHCD procured services first – financial literacy, higher education, job training – then did RFP for housing agencies to run the program.  The regional housing authority  will contract with service providers.  Challenge in Franklin County:  no higher education or job services provider  got qualified (Community Action was qualified to provide  financial literacy).  But DHCD has reserved right to qualify vendors later, so hopefully this will not be a lasting barrier.  RFP is due in April.  Right now, partners include:  HAP, FCRHRA, BRHA, BCDC, Holyoke, Springfield, W. Springfield and Northampton housing authorities.

Lisa provided an update on a car ownership program for participants.  Thanks to Rep. Vega for helping out with this! In discussions with Holyoke Credit Union to make special arrangements for program participants (lower interest rate, etc.).   Rep. Vega is working with Ford dealership.  The program has its first applicant.

Network Legislative Priorities

Pamela shared that the Network Leadership Council adopted legislative priorities that include increased funding for Secure Jobs Connect (see attached summary of priorities).  We discussed the proposal under statewide discussion that would tie SJC to MRVPs with a time limit on the vouchers.  Statewide advocacy groups (MLRI, Mass. Coalition for the Homeless, Homes for Families) are opposed to imposing any time limits on the vouchers, although they are very supportive of increased funding for SJC in its own or other appropriate line-item.  Robin noted that while the Regional Housing Authority Network voted to support the MRVP proposal, it is not yet a sufficiently developed position for the Network to consider supporting or opposing it.  For now, it is most appropriate to continue the more general advocacy of “increase” without attaching it to the MRVP question.  All agreed that the concept of providing housing support to ensure families retain their housing while entering employment is absolutely critical.  Short-term subsidies do not meet the need. Click here for Network’s Legislative Priorities summary.

A shout-out!  Ken Demers made special mention of the excellent new partnerships with Franklin/Hampshire Career Center and Construct in Great Barrington.  Their commitment to this new CommCorp initiative and to Secure Jobs Connect in general is deeply appreciated.

Next meeting:

Tuesday, April 8
Location to be confirmed but hopefully Franklin/Hampshire Career Center
176 Industrial Drive, Northampton



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