Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting
February 12, 2014

In attendance:  Shannon Barry, Springfield Public, Schools, Danielle DeBerry, ServiceNet, Lisa Goldsmith, Dial/SELF, Rani Gould, YWCA, Candace Griffith, Center for Human Development, Edwin Lugo, Center for Human Development, Kim Majewski, Gandara Center, Diana McLean, City of Westfield, Rebecca Muller, Three County CoC, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Jean Rogers, Center for Human Development, Pamela Schwartz, Network

Report out on unaccompanied homeless youth survey/count

Three County (Hampshire/Franklin/Berkshire)

Lisa Goldsmith, Dial/Self:  made good connections with other organizations, effective in raising awareness of youth homelessness.  Challenges:  not enough time and effectively a full-time job to cover Franklin County/Hampshire/N. Quabbin.  Would love to do it again and start sooner.  Timing was especially challenging for CoCs because of PIT and NOFA applications due around the same time.  We should consider whether the youth count should happen at a different time since winter is an especially difficult time to reach youth (e.g., Worcester does it in October).

There was some confusion about the survey., .g., Greenfield Community College initially willing to distribute it at a job fair but after reviewing questions, didn’t feel comfortable.  Needed more time to follow-up.

Gift cards were really helpful but no time for other events.

Rebecca Muller  (Three County CoC):

128 surveys came in from agencies.
52 surveys from shelters (noted high number for 3 county area, from both individual shelters and Greenfield hotel)
Noted 10 youth veterans surveyed

Challenge of not being co-located with Hilltown CDC (CoC), more difficult logistics.  Reached people in North, Central, South Berkshire County, Greater Greenfield area, Ware, Amherst.

Amazing how engaged people were and excited to have this issue on their radar.  Heartwarming to realize potential for growth.  Agencies very excited to engage youth.

Unclear what % of responses will qualify as actually homeless.  We should consider more education and training for those taking the survey so they better understand how to capture their experience (and can check off the “right box” on the survey).



Hampden County CoC

Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, primary coordinator.  A full-time job!  Engaged wide cross-section of agencies  – Carson Center, Opportunity House, transitional housing programs, detox centers.

Provided $10 gift cards.  Very effective.  Out Now and ARISE for Social Justice coordinated one event  – provided funds for 2 ambassadors and pizza.   ROCA had an event with 25 youth participating and surveyed.  Event also held in Holyoke at the Morgan School (not that well attended despite vast outreach). DYS Superviser Karen Tracana supported outreach in Springfield, resulting in 20 surveys.  During PIT count, youth identified at Rescue Mission and referred to CHD (a first-time connection).

360 surveys total returned.  Breakdown:

17 West Springfield
3 Southwick
34 Chicopee (8 Spanish surveys)
116 Holyoke (19 Spanish surveys)
38 Westfield
1 Granby
1 Agawam
143 Springfield (8 Spanish surveys)
4 unidentified cities

Things learned:  Great start on outreach and should continue to do more.  Do a presentation to everyone interested in participating so everyone is clear on what we’re looking for (there was some confusion).

Data analysis

The Statewide Commission is in the process of hiring someone who will analyze data collected.

We all agreed that it is very important to do our own regional data analysis, coordinating across CoCs.

Agreed we need to locate interns to help us.  Diana McLean of Westfield CDGB office said she could have an excellent intern available to help us.  Rebecca agreed to touch base with Andrea Miller (Network/HMIS data analyst) and discuss project with her.  Rebecca will then be in touch with Pamela and Pamela will let Diana know about follow-up.  Lisa Goldsmith will also contact the Worcester liaison to find out about their previous experience with data analysis.

Legislative Priorities for FY15 state budget

Pamela will bring our committee’s recommendations to the Leadership Council on 2/26 for their consideration and ultimate adoption of Network advocacy priorities for FY 15 state budget.

We agreed that we recommend support of House Bill 135 (resources for unaccompanied homeless youth) and  support of the Mass. Coalition for the Homeless budget request to support the Statewide Commission for Unaccompanied and Homeless Youth.

Committee agreed that it would be great to collate our youth survey data in advance of our legislative meetings to use it to support our advocacy.

Next meeting, Wed., 3/12, 10 am, Northampton Senior Center

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