Western MA Family Services Meeting Minutes
October 13, 2015

Attendance: Ellen Broadhurst, West Springfield Public Schools, Linnette Camacho, Springfield Public Schools, Midnedy Carrucni, YWCA of Western MA, Sarah Cloutier, YWCA, Loleta Collins, Springifeld Housing Authority, Charity Day, Franklin Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority, Erin Forbush, ServiceNet, Jill Fijal, Chicopee Public Schools, Lisa Goldsmith, Dial/SELF, Adam Goetz, Tenancy Preservation Project, Sean Hemingway, Center for Human Development, Steven Huntley, Valley Opportunity Council, Cheryl LaChance, HAPHousing, Bonnie LaPorte, Springfield Public Schools, Jane Lindfors, DTA Domestic Violence Unit, Heather Marshall, Elizabeth Freeman Center, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Jordanna O’Connell, Center for Human Development, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Vanessa Otero, New England Farm Workers Council, Victor Pap, DHCD, Stephen Plummer, Springfield Partners for Community Action, Jenni Pothier, Tenancy Preservation Project, Stephen Roussel, Community Action, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Sarah Slautterback, DESE

We welcomed Victor Pap, new Associate Director of the Division of Housing Stabilization.

Family data update: See http://www.mass.gov/hed/housing/stabilization/emergency-assistance.html for the most recently available data on the DHCD website (August, 2015). Pamela updated the group that DHCD is currently working on a template of monthly data to distribute to all the CoC’s across the state to support their efforts to meet HUD requirements on performance and outcome measures. We will be able to use this for our own review and discussion at our monthly meetings as well, so please stay tuned.

Youth Homelessness Presentation:

The committee asked to learn more about youth homelessness in the community and in schools. Lisa Goldsmith, Dial/SELF and Sara Slautterback, DESE, generously offered the following presentation:

  • 19,515 children are identified as homeless in the schools in 2014-2015 according to DESE. This is up from 13,090 in the 2009-10 school year. See http://www.doe.mass.edu/mv/2010-15DistrictData.html for the data that was distributed. The majority of homeless youth are in the lower grades with a spike in 9th
  • Almost ½ are living in shelters/hotels and almost ½ are doubled up
  • Some children are moving across 5-6 school districts in one year (it can take 4-6 months for a child to adjust to single year, i.e., kids are losing an entire year of education with multiple moves)
  • Schools are identifying 800-900 unaccompanied youth each year. This population is under-counted and difficult to identify because of their own motivation to stay unidentified (worried about repercussions).
  • The Special Commission on Unaccompanied Homeless Youth will be releasing its youth count survey results of 2015 within the next month. Discussions are underway now about the 2016 count, how and what it will look like.
  • The legislature allocated $2 million in the FY16 budget for youth housing and services – a first significant investment. At the first Special Commission meeting on 10/28, more will be learned about how this money will be distributed across the state.
  • We looked at Western MA specific youth point in time data (thanks to Andrea Miller for providing this report) – please click here. 232 young adult families were identified during the 2015 point in time count, 26% of all families. The majority of young adult families (86%) were living in Hampden County. Hispanic families were over-represented among the young adult families.

CoC update (Gerry McCafferty):

HUD’s 2015 funding application is out (due mid-November). HUD funds $3 million in homeless services in Hampden County and $1.6 million in Hampshire, Franklin and Berkshire Counties. For the first time, HUD is asking for CoC’s to pay greater attention to youth and family homelessness (stated national goal to end it by 2020). It is also making CoCs accountable for family homelessness regardless of their level of “control” (i.e., MA has a state-run family homelessness system). HUD’s focus is permanent solutions to homelessness, primarily funding housing (permanent supportive, transitional, rapid rehousing). The application is increasingly competitive and opportunities to get “new money” are determined by how well an application scores. Each CoC sponsors its own applications for funding within its CoC – and the CoC then submits an application as a combined entity of proposals.

Each CoC in our region has issued its request for proposals. Please go to https://www.westernmasshousingfirst.org for more information on our blog or contact Gerry McCafferty (gmccafferty@springfieldcityhall.com), Hampden County, or Dave Christopolis (davec@hilltowncdc.org), Three County, for more information on how to apply for project funding. Deadline for applications is Oct. 20.

In the last few rounds of funding, the Hampden CoC has supported funding 28 new units of permanently supportive housing for chronically homeless families as well as rapid rehousing programs for families.

HUD is requiring a new level of data on homeless families, e.g., the number of families who have become homeless for the first time, vs. repeat, length of time people are homeless, all with an eye towards targeting resources for those families who have repeated instances of homelessness and being better able to meet their challenges

With this new focus there is now the requirement – as of last October – to collect exit data on these families. This data is critical to better evaluating the effectiveness of our strategies, e.g., does rapid rehousing keep families out of homelessness? DHCD ‘s provision of this data on a monthly basis to all CoCs is critical to this effort. HUD also wants to know how we are prioritizing families for different strategies, e.g., permanent supportive housing vs. rapid rehousing. How are we determining who gets what resource? What are we doing to shorten the length of stay for families, ultimately reaching the goal of rehousing families within 30 days of becoming homeless. What local strategies would help us get to outcomes more quickly, e.g., connecting with landlords. We discussed the advantages of having a single coordinator developing landlord relationships and housing options. Everyone agreed that coordination and collaboration are key.

We discussed the potential of extending a rapid rehousing program for hardest-to-house families to 2 years of subsidy and linkage with workforce development in order to give adequate time for families to obtain necessary employment for the necessary income to stabilize their housing. Supportive services would need to include attending to child care, transportation, and employment and training.

Victor Pap shared that DHCD is looking more closely at possible programs to house families who have stayed in shelter/motels longer than 8 months either b/c of large family size, lack of documentation, living in a high rent area, medical issues or lack of sufficient income solely with HomeBASE. We will stay tuned to hear more about this.

Family Services Referral Chart: Lauren could not attend the meeting today but will send out the Hampden County draft for review. Charity will do the same for Franklin County. Stephen Rousseau noted inclusion of Community Action in Franklin/Hampshire County resources.


Candlelight vigil on domestic violence will take place next Thursday, 10/22,  at 6 pm at Court Square in Springfield. Contact YWCA for more information.

Tenancy Preservation Project: reminder that this program serves families (and individuals) in Hampshire, Franklin, Hampden Counties whose head of household has a disability and whose tenancy is at risk of termination. Click here for the referral form.

Next meeting: Tuesday, November 10, 9:30 – 11 am, presumably Northampton Senior Center but to be confirmed. The special agenda item will be looking more closely at domestic violence and its impact on family homelessness. Jane Lindfors, Anthia Elliot, Sarah Cloutier and Heather Marshall will connect in advance on the discussion.

We also agreed that at a subsequent meeting we would host a CHAPA staff person from the On the Ground Coalition to tell us about their statewide policy work on ending family homelessness.

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