Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee Minutes
May 28, 2014

In attendance:  Danielle DeBerry, ServiceNet, Lisa Goldsmith, Dial/SELF, Rani Gould, YWCA, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Kim Majewski, Gandara Center, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Jean Rogers, CHD, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Karen Tracana, DYS

Advocacy Update:

Senate budget did not include provisions for unaccompanied homeless youth.  But now onto Conference Committee where we can advocate for House provisions to be included (funding for Special Commission on Unaccompanied Homeless Youth; to fund programs for unaccompanied youth pursuant to House Bill 135, and for LGBTQ pilot project).  Both Senator Rosenberg and Vice-Chair Kulik are supportive of these programs.  We should contact them and our own legislators to urge support for these provisions in Conference Committee.

Program Updates:

Gandara Center (Shine, Kim Majewski):  one female resident just graduated from STCC – first resident to graduate from college – moving out of homelessness (to NJ for a job).  Good progress.

YWCA – Youth Build (Rani Gould): a GED (now HISET)/vocational program for 27 youth, ages 17-24 years old.  Housing not provided but case management provides overall support.  Program full now but new start every fall.  Rani will send materials to Pamela who will forward to the group.

Springfield Office of Housing (Lizzy Ortiz):  waiting list at Springfield Housing Authority for chronically homeless housing is very low.  If youth qualify as chronically homeless, they should get on this list!  Spread the word on this.

CHD Safety  Zone (Jean Rogers) – 14-17 year olds for runaways- host home model – 2 kids currently in care.  Most referrals come from other agencies.  Outreach program is very busy. Applied for TLP grant but was not awarded. No one in MA received this grant in the new round of funding.  A big loss for the region (14 transitional housing slots for young people).

ServiceNet (Danielle DeBerry):  will seek out for next meeting statistics from Interfaith Shelter and other ServiceNet shelters in the region re: youth population.  Currently, at Grove Street Shelter, 2 youth residing, both chronically homeless.  One initially gained part-time employment that turned into full-time employment and is now in the housing search.  Another man is Level 3 registered sex offender. Very difficult to house.

Division of Youth Services (Karen Tracana):  after change in state policy that raised age of “adulthood” from 17 to 18, numbers in DYS have seen a slight increase. Last 3 “commits” are over 17, and none of them have a place to live.  They will be referred to DYS TILP.  Focusing on positive youth development as opposed to correctional.  Very exciting to see positive results.

PATH program (Jay Levy):  Between Central and Western Mass. – 12 outreach clinicians, including street outreach workers.  Program is geared towards homeless adults.  When intersecting with youth, they are usually in the older bracket, between 22-25 years old.  During PIT count, identified 3or 4 unaccompanied homeless youth in Southwick, although presented as short-term.

Dial/SELF (Lisa Goldsmith):  Has AmeriCorps program where 15 participants are placed in youth-serving agencies and schools (Franklin, Hampshire, Hampden. If you are interested in having an AmeriCorps volunteer, contact Lisa.  If you know of someone who may be interested in being a volunteer, contact Lisa, too (in active recruiting stage).  They get a stipend and an award that can help with higher education.  Dial/SELF also provides run-away, homeless youth services – street, school, event-based outreach; drop-in centers  – ages 15-21 years (main one in Greenfield, although also one in N. Quabbin but building in flux); warming center for youth (ages 17-21) who present needing place to stay, very short-term; transitional living program, four 2 bedroom apartments, 7 out of 8 currently filled (17, high school or GED, have to set goals); permanent supportive housing – 10 enhanced efficiency units, Section 8 based, if tenants go through year and do case management and community services, they get on top of list for Section 8 mobile voucher. Pilot program for LGBTQ youth (via Mass. Housing and Shelter Alliance) – 1 of 3 sites in state that received the funding.  Really good program and hopefully it will be get funded to continue next fiscal year.

We also discussed briefly the prevalence of heroin in area high schools.  We agreed we would touch base on this at our next meeting to determine if there is more we can do as a committee on this issue.

Pamela informed the group that she is on leave for July and August (traveling and studying in Ecuador with her family), but that Lisa Goldsmith will facilitate the summer meeting in her absence (thank you, Lisa).  The next meeting will be:

Tuesday, July 15, 9 am – 10:15 am, Northampton Senior Center


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