Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee Meeting Minutes
January 15, 2015

In attendance: Ellen Broadhurst, West Springfield Public Schools, Dave Christopolis, Hilltown CDC, Pamela Cook, Karen Cree, graduate student, WSPS, Gandara Center (SHINE program), Jill Fijal, Chicopee Public Schools, Lisa Goldsmith, Dial/SELF, Kim Majewski, Gandara Center, Jean Rogers, CHD, Teri Rutherford, Hilltown CDC, Pamela Schwartz, Network

Legislative update:

Congratulations to all for the passage of the unaccompanied homeless youth bill! Now our work will begin on the funding legislation, and Pamela is in touch with Mass. Coalition for the Homeless around that advocacy, so please stay tuned. The Network’s Leadership Council is meeting next week and will presumably approve our continuing advocacy on this issue.

The new youth bill also included permanent authorization for the Special Commission on Unaccompanied Homeless Youth (again, funding still needed), but this is a good development in terms of acknowledging the policy importance of this issue.

Review of Three County CoC Youth Count 2014 Analysis

Please click here to review. In sum: 59 youth surveyed. 39% staying Hampshire, 31% from Franklin, 31% from Berkshire.   42 unaccompanied adults, 12 parents with children, 3 under the age of 18. 70% non-Hispanic white; 20% identified as LGBTQ. 10 veterans.

Youth Survey/Point in Time Count Preparations

Online survey link now available: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/massyouth

Hampden County update:

Extensive outreach under way. Event at STCC on 2/2, 11:30-1:30, Building 13, Room 128, will provide pizza and drinks and service providers will be on hand as well to provide referrals, etc.

Also possible additional event at HCC, tentative date of 1/28, 11:30-1:30.

ROCA and Out Now are also holding events for their group members and participants. Will enlist “youth ambassadors” from these organizations to assist at events.

LGBT program 1/29, 4-6 pm, at Holyoke Public Library will also be a good outreach opportunity.

Using $10 Dunkin’ Donut gift cards as incentive for completing survey.

ROCA will be holding an event; Out Now will also be holding an event; transformation project – organization that works with first generations – 5 homeless youth – will provide survey and gift cards to them

Three County CoC: Franklin County: Lisa Goldsmith has reached out to everybody on the list from last year. Community Action and Dial/SELF will be biggest sources; also reached out to Recover Project and Center for New Americans.

Surveys will also be provided to homeless families in Greenfield (under age of 24). Right now the there is a total of 75 families in the hotels there.

Berkshire County – Dave is working with BCAC, the Reconnect Center, Family Life Support Center and the North Berkshire Community Coalition in North County and in South County, Construct, Railroad Street Youth Project.

Hampshire County: Eliot Services will (Brendon Eliot) will reach out to unsheltered youth. Rebecca Muller is reaching out to ServiceNet.

Jay Levy will be supervising street youth count across all counties through Eliot CHS-Homeless Services.

All agreed also useful to reach out to adult learning centers.

We discussed the challenge of sufficient resources to coordinate this survey/count, particularly for the Three County CoC where staff does not exist to assign to this project.   Use of volunteers (e.g., AmeriCorps) is helpful but there is the learning curve and relationship building that require time to maximize effectiveness. Resources for smaller organizations – e.g, those in more rural areas – is a constant challenge. Provide card with resources

Next meeting: Wed., Feb. 11, 10 am – 11:15 am, BHN, 417 Liberty Street, Springfield (immediately following Springfield school liaison meeting)

Announcement: Youth Legislative Forum, 2/13, 3:30-5:00, Palo Friere Charter School, Holyoke, 160 Lower Westfield Road, Holyoke. Opportunity for youth to get involved in legislative process. Spread word!

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