Leadership Council Meeting
January 21, 2015
In attendance: Mary Jane Bacon, Senator Rosenberg’s office, Tim Brennan, Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, Kathryn Buckley-Brawner, Catholic Charities, Bonnie Caldwell, DHCD, Dave Christopolis, Hilltown CDC, Patrica Crosby, Franklin Regional Employment Board, Ken Demers, BerkshireWorks, Linda Dunlavy, Franklin Regional Council of Governments, Doreen Fadus, Mercy Medical Center, Judge Robert Fields, Western MA Housing Court, Brad Gordon, Berkshire Regional Housing Authority, Jennifer Hohn, North Adams Housing Authority, Lori Ingraham, Easthampton Savings Bank, Mary Reardon Johnson, YWCA, Nat Karns, Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, Peg Keller, City of Northampton, Charlie Knight, consumer, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Diana McLean, City of Westfield, Bill Miller, Friends of the Homeless, Dave Modzelewski, Network, Andrew Morehouse, Food Bank of Western Mass., Jerry Ray, Mental Health Association, Megan Rhodes, Franklin Regional Council of Governments, Carmen Rivera, Home City Housing, George Ryan, Hampden County Regional Employment Board, Jay Sacchetti, ServiceNet, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Matt Simmonds, Simtech Consulting, Robin Sherman, Franklin County Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority, Linda Stacy, United Way of Franklin County, Lynne Wallace, HAPHousing, Jennifer Wuest, Behavioral Health Network,
Minutes of 10/23/14 Leadership Council meeting:
Robin noted that the minutes inaccurately named two states as having the “right to shelter.” However, MA is the only state; New York City, not New York State, also has the right to shelter. See corrected minutes here.
Motion to approve: Charlie Knight
Seconded: Tim Brennan
All in favor: unanimous
New Network Vice-Chair: Doreen Fadus, Mercy Medical Center:
The Network Steering Committee reached out to Doreen to ask her to serve as the Network vice-chair, replacing Lynne Wallace (after he many years of extraordinary service as chair and then vice chair). We all expressed our appreciation for Doreen’s willingness to serve in this capacity – the Network is extremely fortunate to have her!
Motion in support of Doreen Fadus as vice-chair of the Network: Mary Reardon Johnson
Seconded: Charlie Knight
All in favor: unanimous
Charlie seconded the motion
Pamela noted the Baker Administration has given very public attention to the family homelessness crisis and his stated intention to explore new solutions. He has also made explicit mention of “regional networks” as part of the solution, an intriguing possibility for our ongoing efforts.
Secure Jobs Celebration – 2/6/15:
Pamela reminded everyone that our upcoming second annual Secure Jobs Celebration is taking place on Friday, 2/6, 10 am – 11:30 am, Kittredge Center, Holyoke Community College. This will be a celebration of all of our workforce development efforts for homeless families and individuals. 18 legislators, several mayors, DHCD Undersecretary and many more will be attending. Come if you can!
Legislative Priorities Discussion for FY16
Pamela referred to the draft of legislative priorities that is based on Network committee recommendations (click here).
Jerry Ray: The Tenancy Preservation Project (TPP) plays a very important role in preventing homelessness. The requested $500,000 increase statewide (from $500K to $1m) will allow it to serve more disabled individuals facing the threat of eviction.
Robin Sherman: Housing Consumer Education Centers suffered significant cuts this past year. They are the foundation for administering the RAFT program specifically and all prevention and diversion work generally. A big concern regarding increasing MRVP funding is whether DHCD will have the capacity to run a larger program. Right now, given the recent expansion, they are already under-resourced in administration and housing providers are being asked to carry the burden without any additional funding. There is concern that the administrative gap causes underutilization of the program which ultimately undermines the value of the program as a whole. If the State is funding vouchers, it must fund the costs associated to administer them. The group agreed that any ask of additional MRVPs shall be accompanied by this ask for sufficient administrative support.
Nat Karns: Suggested we move up HCEC as a priority in our funding asks.
Re: funding for emergency shelters: Pamela provided a hand-out from MHSA that compared the proportion of homeless individuals by region statewide with the proportion of funding allocated to each region (click here). The Western region has 13% of homeless individuals and receives 7% of funding statewide. This gap has very real consequences as the Friends of the Homeless (FOH) faces a significant cut next fiscal year without an increase in funding (this year they received a one-time budget earmark to stave off cuts). If state law was passed to provide each shelter with a minimum of the average bed rate each night ($32/bed), the FOH would not be cut (and other shelters in the region would benefit as well). There are various strategies under consideration, but as of now, the Leadership Council is asked to prioritize an increase in funding to FOH so that it does not have to cut the very services that help permanently house these individuals.
Pamela also shared the hand-outs regarding the Work Group to House People with Sex Offense Histories (click here for Work Group hand-out). Specifically, the group is seeking an opportunity to appear before the Special Commission to Reduce Recidivism of Sex Offenders (click here for letter to Commission) to share its perspective and advocacy around changing the leveling system to better reflect best practices and make it more possible to provide safe housing alternatives to this population.
The group agreed on the following primary legislative priorities for FY16:
- Fund Secure Jobs at $2 million
- Restore funding for HCECs
- Fund individual emergency shelters (up to a minimum of each shelter receiving the average bed rate of $32/night)
- Increase funding for TPP to $1 million
- Fund services for unaccompanied homeless youth ($4 million, in collaboration with Mass Coalition for the Homeless)
All other listed priorities (as qualified above) will also be included in our legislative discussion; the top 5 will be our highest priorities.
Motion to adopt the legislative priorities as described above: Robin Sherman
Seconded: Dave Modzelewski
All in favor: unanimous
Presentation by Matt Simmonds of Simtech Consulting on the Network’s Opening Doors Plan
The Network obtained a budget earmark in FY15 to develop a local version of the federal Opening Doors Plan to End Homelessness, comprehensive, data-driven action plan that covered the entire region, incorporating both CoCs. The Network just recently (finally) entered into a contract with Simtech, who is sub-contracting with Andrea Miller, to produce this plan.
At today’s meeting, Matt provided an overview of the effort. Click here for hand-out on the alignment effort with the federal plan and click here for his Powerpoint presentation that laid out the goals and methods that will frame this process.
Robin Sherman: What are we trying to do? Who are we trying to capture? What is the information going to be used for and who is going to have access to it?
Gerry McCafferty: This plan will capture how are we doing in terms of ending homelessness, moving from homelessness to housing, and measure it across the Network. Collective impact work calls for indicators that measure in the same way at the same time. We need to collect that information and give it back to us in a way that improves our understanding and our responses. .
Dave Modzelewski: Where’s the repository for the information? How do we make sure that individuals are not assessed 3 times by 3 different providers, for example?
Gerry McCafferty: We’re looking at how to share the information safely and appropriately across entities.
Robin Sherman: Important to look at what information we’re collecting and who has permission to access it. There are legitimate concerns about privacy up against the fact that the fewer people we have in the database, the less the data is worth. This is a complicated issue.
Matt Simmonds: There are different levels of data, different ways to aggregate that allow us to examine our impact without violating privacy.
Judge Fields: He is seeing people in his court who are being evicted for non-payment of rent a few months after their HomeBASE subsidy ends. He is also interested in seeing “report cards” on agencies as well, whether they are meeting their benchmarks in terms of recidivism. How to track that?
Gerry McCafferty: Andrea did a good “recidivism” study last year that captured these findings.
Robin Sherman: it’s great to have data, and once we have it, we need to dig into it to find out what it says. What is our process for analyzing the data and drawing conclusions from it, i.e., there can be many explanations for different outcomes for providers,e .g, nature of intervention vs. nature of environment (easier to stay housed with lower cost of housing, better jobs market, etc).
Brad Gordon: Most agencies have multiple funding sources. Collective impact model requires funder synchronicity. When there are significant differences in funder requirements (always), this makes it very difficult to collect and analyze. He has concern about creating a closed data loop that doesn’t capture all the data, e.g., looking at prevention impact with TPP vs. RAFT and you will see fewer people getting evicted who have relied on TPP because TPP is funded to offer more intensive wrap-around support than RAFT. We must be thoughtful about how we use data so it ends up providing meaningful results. It’s also important to note that staff is already frequently overwhelmed by data collection requirements. When it’s a smaller entity, this presents a real challenge that is even more difficult to overcome.
Matt Simmonds: He is looking at “service-oriented architecture” that allows people to talk to people through web systems. Coordinated assessment is an opportunity but requires agreement across funders, service providers, about what we can do.
Brad Gordon: Should we consider focusing on a target population as a pilot in testing the data collection and analysis. Less expensive, more concrete results. Matt agreed that this idea has merit.
Andrew Morehouse: Noted two themes in the discussion of working in collaboration towards shared outcomes
Collective Impact Training:
Part of the Network workplan for this action plan includes the possibility of inviting the National Alliance to End Homelessness to provide its collective impact training. It is a 1 day workshop with community leaders to discuss system change. We will learn more and bring it back to the Leadership Council very soon. Robin Sherman noted that it would be extremely valuable to bring DHCD into that training (and possibly other state agencies as well). Everyone agreed.
Leadership Council business recruitment:
Andrew raised that it is vital to recruit more for-profit businesses in order to expand the Network breadth and build the prospect of future support.
Andrew and other members of the Steering Committee have begun conducting some outreach. Andrew has reached out to a bank but listed many other local bank possibilities.
Diana McLean offered to reach out to United Bank.
Gerry McCafferty noted the lack of people of color on our Leadership Council; that this was another area of recruitment we needed to focus on.
Charlie Knight noted that we needed more consumers.
Ken Demers noted that it should be a priority to keep the banks as local as possible and expect a commitment from them to join the table.
Doreen Fadus suggested the Western MA Coalition of Hospitals would be a good resource. Pamela will follow-up with Doreen on this.
Network Budget Review
Andrew provided a revised budget to reflect the additional $125K earmark from the Commonwealth and the resulting changes in line-items.
Move to approve revised budget: Charlie Knight
Seconded: Lynne Wallace
All in favor: unanimous
Discussion of Springfield family homelessness situation (recent media):
Dave Modzelewski noted many concerns and questions across the community regarding the placement of homeless families in Springfield.
Gerry McCafferty noted that there will be a meeting on Thursday, 1/22, at the Forest Park Civic Association where providers and the City will be present to discuss.
Mary Reardon Johnson asked Gerry whether Mayor Sarno is willing to sign applications for new affordable housing.
Gerry McCafferty noted that new funds are only going to projects that are either replacing housing lost in the tornado or are part of neighborhood revitalization strategies. The City has concern about the disparate impact of continually putting low-income housing in concentrated areas of poverty where predominantly people of color reside. The City offers a high level of affordable housing and it does so in a scattered site model.
Mary Johnson: The City is rejecting 30 units of affordable supportive housing (that the YWCA could obtain funding to build). Families need permanent supportive housing. Springfield is missing the opportunity to develop new positive projects.
Peg Keller: Northampton is in the middle of a heated debate over the development of 55 units of affordable housing in Northampton (through a Valley CDC project). She invited everyone to weigh in at the next Northampton City Council meeting on 2/5 at 7 pm. This is a fabulous project and should prevail over some community opposition – it could use our support (Pamela will be attending the City Council meeting).
Next meeting: Thursday, 4/30, presumably Berkshire Regional Housing Authority (must confirm).
Meeting adjourned at 12 noon.