Merrimack Valley Regional Network to End Homelessness Meeting Minutes 2/28/11

Merrimack Valley Regional Network to End Homelessness

February 28, 2011 – Meeting Minutes


In attendance: Pam Wool (CAI) Linda Comeau (YWCA of Greater Lawrence),Isabel Melendez (GLCAC) Maureen Mulcahy (GLCAC), Lloyd Wajda (St Vincent de Paul), Sofia Starraki (City of Lowell), Kathy Muldoon (GLIPH), Peter Cirioni (DOE), Linda King (City of Lowell), Larry Gottlieb (Eliot), David McClane (YMCA), Diane Waddell (Living Waters), Chick Lopiano (GLCAC),Karen Frederick (CTI), Ed Cameron (CTI), Jim Barnes (City of Lawrence), Susan Rourke (Middlesex Sheriff’s Office/Billerica HoH) and Kristin Ross-Sitcawich (CTI).


Network Updates:

Network Coordinator

c    The group discussed the MVRN contract and allocation levels. ICHH grant fund allocation will remain the same as indicated in the table below. The $25,000 allocation from United Way may be used across the Merrimack Valley. Recently, United Way awarded CTI and GLCAC (each) $45K which is funding exclusive to Lowell and Lawrence. Given the fact that Lowell and Lawrence have been allocated additional ($25K) United Way funds, it was determined that the MVRN United Way allocation be “earmarked” for use, exclusively within the Haverhill region.

c    Network members were also informed as to the structure of referrals and pass through procedures and advised that intake/referral packets for application of MVRN/ICHH funds would be forthcoming via email to Network.

Client Resources Financial Assistance  
Direct Financial Assist. (YWCA GL) $16,250
Direct Financial Assist. (GLCAC) $16,250
Direct Financial Assist. (CAI) $16,250
Direct Financial Assist. (CTI/HCEC) $16,250
Direct Financial Assist. (TPP) $5,000
Total Direct Assistance $70,000
Total Network Coordination $27,347
Indirect Cost @ 9.7% $2652.69
Total ICHH Award $100,000


c    Karen Frederick suggested that the Network create a “mapping” system for employment, child care and education services throughout the Merrimack Valley region. It was generally agreed upon by the members in attendance that this would be a positive initiative for the Network in advance of EA Reform.

c    Peter Cirioni discussed the “young parents” program with the group – and asked that when the Network creates the “mapping”, that we incorporate Pre-GED, GED and trade schools.


  1. Network Update from Partners

Tenancy Preservation Program/ Eliot CHS – ELIOT is working with LTLC to bring increased access to mental health service access (including DMH) for homeless individuals. The group was also informed that Eliot had been successful in working with MBHP to open 12 new CSPECH slots in the Merrimack Valley region. The 12 clients must be chronic homeless and have a mental illness. They must be housed within 90 days of being identified as eligible for CSPECH services. Lastly, the slots can be spread across the Merrimack Valley region.

***The Regional Coordinator will pull together a conference call with Eliot CHS, Mitch’s Place, The Psychological Center, Lowell Transitional Living Center and Pathfinder***


YWCA of Greater Lawrence – Discussed briefly the families that “bounce” from one to another across the region seeking cash assistance. Also reporting that their families are encountering barriers in access to childcare resulting in parents not being able to interview for jobs, complete GED programs or attend to training opportunities.


**The group was advised that there are 200 homeless childcare slots that are unfilled. The EEC website has a list of daycare centers with homeless day care slots**



Community Action, Inc – advised that they are receiving an average of 20 calls per day seeking assistance. The CAI site in Amesbury will be moving shortly and in the process of finding a new site. CSBG funding had been tied into the current CAI Amesbury site.


Greater Lawrence Community Action Council – Reports that their Community Service Center serves up to 15,000 people each year. They report a lack of rental assistance resources currently and seeing an increase of households coming in for services after having lost employment. They receive referrals from DTA, Housing Court and Fina House. Maureen Mulcahey advised the group that GLCAC was being awarded $45,000 from United Way.


Middlesex Sheriff’s Department/ Billerica HOC – Informed the group that the HOC will soon be a part of the Gateway Network, which will enable staff at the HOC to apply exiting inmates for Mass Health insurance just prior to their release, which will enable an improved continuum of care for re-entering inmates who are in need of mental health and substance abuse services. Ms Rourke further reports that many re-entering with mental illness are not appropriate for the half way house environment.

City of  Lawrence – Jim Barnes advised the group that Yesenia Gil has moved onto MHIC. As a result, the position of Community Development Officer is vacant and will be posted until 3/6/11 with a pay range from $65K to $70K and has been posted on the City of Lawrence’s website.

**The Regional Coordinator will post this employment availability on the Networks’ blog)**.

Jim also advised the group that the Lawrence DPD office has moved to 225 Essex St., Lawrence, discussed the risk of losing CSBG dollars and anticipating a minimum of a %10 reduction in CDBG funds. Lastly, it was reported that the Saunders School is slated for occupancy, this Spring.


St Vincent de Paul – reported that St Vincent de Paul provides immediate assistance to families and individuals in need. Provide such services as transportation, emergency motel stays, fuel and mortgage assistance.

City of Lowell – Completed the annual PIT Count and currently working on the Snapshot/Federal Plan with providers and community members. It was reported that they plan to track families and individuals served with ARRA funds, analyzing levels of care and follow up required for both groups


Living Waters – Informed the attendees that a new group has formed, “New Brothers” which will be meeting at Living Waters. This group has been doing outreach to our state and county prisons to provide a base of support for newly released inmates.


Community Teamwork/Karen Frederick – Discussed the inter-relatedness of funding; CSBG, CDBG, Child Care Block Grants, etc. and the impact of the reduction of and/or the elimination of certain areas will have a direct impact on all initiatives as those funds are utilized as leveraging for programs at all levels.

YMCA – Informed the group that they have 73 beds for single homeless men. They provide educational services, particularly catered to the Hispanic population, providing Pre-GED, ESL, Basic Computer Skills with a $20 registration fee..


Department of Education/ Peter Cirioni – Reported to the Network that a statewide Pre-school Advisory Group. This group will be assessing the potential impacts on school age and pre-school age children under EA Reform.


New Business

  1. EA Reform – Family shelter reform with sheltering resources focused on young parents, domestic violence or victims of natural disaster. All other families referred would be eligible for diversion funds up to 3 years. The State would subcontract with the Regional Housing Non Profits for stabilization with an overarching goal of Housing First for families. There will be an EA Reform meeting on 3/3/11 @ CTI Phoenix Ave. Lowell, 2pm – 4pm. Bob Pulster and his staff from DHCD will be on hand to discuss the changes being proposed.
  2. Lowell Housing Authority – RFP issued by LHA for an agency to lease a Temporary Housing Unit. CTI is applying for this contract to enable flexibility in placing families in a temporary housing unit (for a very short span of time), versus placement in a motel.


  1. Sub – Committee Structure – Emails will go out within 24 hours to subcommittees with instructions, from the Regional Coordinator


Next Meeting

March 21, 2011 @ 2pm

Community Action, Inc

75 Elm St Haverhill, MA



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