Family Services Meeting Minutes
March 28, 2018
In attendance: Shelly Benoit, BHN, Project FIT, Joel Cox, NEFWC, Dawn DiSefano, Square One, Emily English, Gandara Center, Tavar Jones, Arise for Social Justice, Jane Lindfors, DTA Domestic Violence Unit, Fran Lemay, Greenfield Family Inn/ServiceNet, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Aisha Pizarro, YWCA, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Tj Steele, Springfield Partners, Janna Tetreault, Community Action, Janette Vigo, Way Finders, Melissa White, Valley Opportunity Council
Resource Fair Planning:
We reviewed the survey feedback on workshop interest. In addition to the sub-population workshops on families (how the EA system works), youth, veterans, chronically homeless, DV services, career services, we will add two additional workshops: the opioid epidemic’s intersection with homelessness and overcoming tenant screening barriers.
On the opioid topic, it was suggested to reach out to Dr. Roose through Doreen Fadus of Mercy Medical Center who has done some training on how to assist with harm reduction while awaiting a treatment bed. Tavar Jones of Arise also offered to connect us to their harm reduction task force.
We also agreed it would be important to get info out around needle exchange services.
On overcoming tenant screening barriers, it was suggested to reach out to Jen Dieringer of Community Legal Aid; Arise also may be able to assist. Pamela will reach out to both.
On the EA workshop: Janette Vigo and Donna Nadeau will work together to offer this.
Re: marketing and flyer: Donna Nadeau kindly volunteered to enlist her daughter who produces fliers like this. Pamela will give her the info.
We reviewed the data provided by DHCD – one template produced by Andrew Pape of DHCD and data provided by Donna via her providers re: placements out of homelessness. It was noted that the # of families entering homelessness is greater than the number exiting and the vast majority of those exiting are going into market rate housing (via HomeBASE). This points to the challenge of increasing the number of placements and to the lack of public and subsidized housing.
We discussed the need to enlist housing authorities in prioritizing units for homeless families. We also discussed interest in an update from the New Lease program. How is that program going in the Western part of the state? Pamela will follow-up.
We also need to add the diversion number to the template and ask Andrew if he can match the format of Donna’s data with our monthly data so we can see the trend over months.
Hampden County Coordinated entry update
Gerry provided a summary of the effort to implement Coordinated Entry for chronically homeless families. Right now, CHD, VOC, Springfield Housing Authority and Gandara Community Housing Program offer permanent supportive units for families, totaling roughly 40-50 units. The VI-SPDAT assessment tool is being used to assess families’ vulnerability and placement on the priority list for a unit. Currently roughly 30 families have been assessed with the tool. All housing providers are relying on the coordinated entry group waiting list to allocate an available unit. It is important to assess all chronically homeless families so there can be an accurate accounting of the housing need and understanding of the need for more units.
Hampden County CoC is using an online system to record the VI-SPDATs and to administer the coordinated entry system. The CoC is currently working with the State to get a Release of Information that can be utilized to more easily share data and allow quicker referrals within the system.
Fran Lemay was not aware of anything similar happening in the Three Count region.
Community Housing Program: Emily English of Gandara Center presented on this program for families in recovery. There are 21 units total, 17 in Holyoke, 4 in Hampshire County. Criteria includes the head of household is in recovery from substance use (6 months into recovery) and must have children or on a reunification plan. The goal is to live a sober life, continue to work on recovery and build stability. The length of stay is up until the youngest child is 18; average length of stay is 3-5 years. They work with Way Finders which administers the rent payments. There are 2 and 3 bedroom apartments
Next meeting date: Tuesday, May 8, 9:30 am, Northampton Senior Center with sub-meetings happening to continue planning for the Resource Fair.