In attendance: Hillary Cronin, VA, Anthia Elliott, BHN, Kelli Kefalas, NEFWC, Fran Lemay, ServiceNet, Andrea Marion, Valley Opportunity Council, Heather Marshall, Elizabeth Freeman Center, Michelle Michaelian, BHN, Lizzy Ortiz, Mercy Medical, Marisabel Perez, CHD, Kim Saveny, Hilltown Community Health Center, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Janna Tetrault, Community Action, Lauren Voyer, Way Finders,

Shelter system RFP update: Pamela reported that DHCD Assistant Undersecretary Jane Banks advised that the RFP is under final internal review and we can anticipate its release by the end of this month.

Legislative update: Pamela reported that the FY20 budget bill is still in conference committee (the compromises of the House and the Senate budgets) despite the new fiscal year starting on 7/1 (this is typical). Pamela will relay when the budget is released.

Meanwhile, legislative bills pertaining to homelessness that were filed at the start of the new legislative session in January are now coming up for hearings, as soon as Tuesday, July 16. Pamela reviewed these bills, including a pilot program to reduce the “cliff effect” (led by SpringfieldWorks), a data coordination bill requiring state agencies to release data pertaining to homelessness (Senator Comerford is lead sponsor), right to counsel for tenants facing evictions and eviction sealing (so tenants are not permanently penalized for evictions being filed against them).

We discussed the role of the family services committee in this legislative process and there was consensus that members would like to more actively participate in the process. We agreed that we would continue this conversation around how to prioritize bills and strategically push them forward as a committee. It was also suggested that one of our trainings this year address “how bills get made” and other tips around advocacy.

FY20 work plan discussion

Network trainings for FY20
We began by reviewing the training survey results (click here). After discussion, we agreed on the following recommendations for this year’s training calendar:

Provided by Network/state trainers, free of charge (repeats from last year):
EA/HomeBASE training
Overcoming tenant screening barriers
Legal services training
Child care voucher system
SSI/SSDI systems training
DV best practices (provided by Hampden CoC last year; Gerry is looking to repeat this year)
New proposals provided by Network/state trainers:
Advocacy: how does a bill get passed; how can we help make it happen
Mental health/substance use systems training (Michelle, Lizzy, Anthia and Yoshi agreed to be a planning sub-group for this)

Paid trainings:
Racial equity: unanimous support for continuing this work with Marc Dones
OrgCode: unlikely on trauma informed care only because other orgs are offering it; unlikely on diversion/progressive engagement; possibly on “how to run an awesome shelter” but only if modified to better address the family shelter system

We discussed the need for more targeted focus on rural needs, especially regarding transportation. We agreed that the newly forming Three County CoC (through Community Action) will be a great starting point for this conversation.

Next meeting dates:
Due to vacation and other scheduling conflicts, we are shifting our next two meetings to the first Tuesday of the month, so we will meet next on:

Tues., Aug 6
Tues, Sept. 3
11 am – 12:30 pm
Kittredge Center, Room 301
Holyoke Community College

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