Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee Meeting Minutes
December 10, 2012

In attendance: Shannon Barry, Springfield Public Schools, Pamela Cook, Gandara SHINE program, Pam Fijial, Chicopee Public Schools, Lisa Goldsmith, Dial/SELF, Sarah Kline, North Adams School Public Schools, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Kim Majewski, Gandara Center, Jordana O’Connell, Holyoke Public School Liaison, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Jean Rogers, CHD, Pamela Schwartz, Network

Youth Count Discussion:

Reminder on school policy: we can connect with schools – with superintendent approval – and use them as a conduit to outside events for homeless youth, i.e., distribution of flyers and information.

Confirmed that the count applies to all unaccompanied homeless youth, ages 18-24. “Homeless” is defined to include doubling-up and couch-surfing (distinct from HUD rules on Point In Time Count). The count/surveys will take place from Wed., 1/28 through the following Tuesday, 2/3.

Hampden County update:

Lizzy Ortiz is organizing 2 magnet events, STCC and HCC. They will offer food and gift cards and have outreach workers present to provide follow-up support available (e.g., via CHD, SHINE) for any interested youth. Lizzy is scheduling a meeting before the holidays with service providers to train and organize around outreach.

We discussed outreach to Chicopee youth, acknowledging the transportation barriers to get to Holyoke or Springfield magnet events. But limited resources preclude Lizzy from organizing a 3rd event. Possible solutions: promote use of the online survey (Liz Rogers of DHCD is working on creating this capacity) and advertise the Chicopee Public Library as a location to complete the survey. We also brainstormed a Chicopee contact that could be placed on the event flyers, e.g,. “if you can’t make it to Holyoke or Springfield, contact xxx.” Lizzy will reach out to the Chicopee Boys and Girls Club to see if they would be willing to provide that local resource.

Lizzy will send their provider outreach letter to Three County folks for use as possible template. Click here for Hampden County letter.

Pamela shared Gerry’s compilation of last year’s data on Hampden County’s unaccompanied youth.  Click here to review. Pamela will distribute it electronically as well. Interesting findings: 234 youth surveyed; 193 youth homeless, 29 doubled up; 53 youth at risk of becoming homeless; 95% between ages of 18-24 (5% under 18).

Three County Update:

Dave Christopolis was unable to attend this meeting but relayed via email that he is meeting with three county point people – Rebecca, Terri, Lisa – over the next few days to organize outreach. Lisa reported that she assumes an outreach letter to providers will be going out shortly.

Jay Levy requested that the surveys and gift cards get distributed to outreach workers at least a week prior to the count so that where more individual outreach occurs – in Hampshire County, e.g. – outreach workers are prepared to go when it’s time.

Legislative priorities discussion:

We agreed we would continue to prioritize the passage of the unaccompanied homeless youth bill (formerly known as House Bill 135) and , assuming that passes by the end of Governor Patrick’s term (the hope), we will then follow the Mass. Coalition for the Homeless’ lead on the advocacy for the funding necessary to enact the bill.

We also agreed we would connect with MHSA around its youth piece of Home and Healthy for Good.

We raised the recently launched Social Impact Bond initiative launched by MA (“pay for success” model) and discussed whether there are tie-ins for chronically homeless youth.   Pamela will follow up with MHSA and MHA (Jerry Ray) to learn more.

Next meeting dates:

Thursday, 1/15, 10 am, Northampton Senior Center

Wednesday, 2/11, 10 am, Springfield, BHN (following Springfield liaison meeting)

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