Family Services Committee Meeting Minutes
September 8, 2015

In attendance: Yoshi Bird, CHD, Jane Banks, CHD, Kathleen Cinquegrana, Amherst Community Connections, Liz Connor, Tenancy Preservation Project, Charity Day, Franklin Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority, Hillary Cronin, VA, Linda Driscoll-Sbar, CHD, Heidi Gold, Simtech Solutions, Hwei-Ling Greeney, Amherst Community Connections, Donna Harris, Franklin Hampshire Career Center, Mary E. Johnson, Central West Justice Center, Fran LeMay, ServiceNet, Jane Lindfors, DTA Domestic Violence Unit, Heather Marshall, Elizabeth Freeman Center, Julia Ortiz, Springfield Housing Authority, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Rachel Trant, DCF, Janette Vigo, HAP, Lauren Voyer, HAP

Data Review:

We reviewed and discussed the data available from DHCD. Pamela agreed to arrive at a template for this monthly review and to bring it to next month’s meeting for review and discussion.

Current numbers (not available via DHCD but via providers):

Lauren of HAP reported that currently there are roughly 80 families in motels in Hampden County; Charity of Franklin County Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority reported that Greenfield motel numbers are down to about 32 families. Great progress in reducing number of hotel numbers across the region. Both areas report a significant decline in out-of-area families. DHCD is meeting with each regional housing network across the state to discuss how to close out use of hotels by December, 2016.

Pamela shared data from Sarah Slautterbach re: DESE numbers from 2014-2015:

Massachusetts schools identified 19,515 children as homeless – of which 8,629 children were living in shelters or motels, 7,620 were doubled up, 173 had no shelter at all and 861 were unaccompanied.

We will discuss this more at our next family services meeting (when Sarah can attend).

We reviewed some data provided by Simtech re: length of stay in Hampden County. Providers commented that a huge part of the challenge in having quality data over time has been the changes in the data requested, i.e., certain data is not available because it is only recently being asked for (HUD changes went into effect last October). DHCD has recently funded dedicated staff to support data entry and data quality. This is making a big impact.

We agreed it would be interesting to track the difference in lengths of stay and nature of exits among different shelter options – scattered site, congregate, co-shelter. Providers agreed in general that congregate and co-sheltering are more successful than scattered site in providing support, stabilization and incentive to move into own permanent housing. However, due to political environment, it is especially challenging to lease up multiple units in one spot. It was suggested that the Network play a role in providing support to grow the successful models.

Lauren Voyer will bring to next meeting HAP data comparing length of stay and exits from various shelter options.

Housing match efforts

Yoshi Bird of CHD described CHD’s recent coordination effort among its various teams – rehousing and stabilization – to maximize knowledge and outreach around available housing units and best matches for homeless families. Together they take stock of available housing units and families needs and make decisions together. They have had incredible results. They have one person who is especially skilled with landlord negotiations and that person is now being used across the board to facilitate landlord conversations. This model is particularly useful for harder-to-house families.

HAP, ServiceNet and HUD/VASH shared their versions of this kind of coordination within their organizations. We discussed whether we wanted to work towards coordinating across agencies and for now most felt it was too complicated and there were too many families to make broader coordination work. Pamela will follow-up with Yoshi to learn more about their work on coordinated assessment.

We discussed the use of the VI-SPDAT for PSH units for chronically homeless families. Many expressed concern about the invasiveness of the questions and whether it was in fact the best tool for determining prioritization.

Lauren distributed the beginnings of a referral flow chart (click here) around available resources for families. TPP asked to be added for prevention. We agreed we would consider what additional information would be useful, e.g., dollar amounts available for RAFT; also agreed it would be useful to have a FAQ around where to refer families who are not eligible for EA. Lauren agreed to be the contact for additional information.

Next meeting:

Tuesday, October 13
1:00 pm – 2:30 pm
CHD, Pace School
69 Capital Drive, West Springfield

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