Merrimack Valley Regional Network Meeting Minutes 9/17/12

Merrimack Valley Regional Network to End Homelessness

July 16, 2012 – Meeting Minutes

Community Teamwork, Inc. 17 Kirk St Lowell, MA


In attendance: Kristin Ross-Sitcawich (CTI) Leslies Kent (COMPASS for Kids, Jodi Hill (COMPASS for Kids), Charlie Manzi (Confort Home Care), Al Hanscom (Emmaus), Robin Pincence (Emmaus), Roland Cartier (CTI), Sandy Almonte (DTA), Carl Howell (CTI), Connie Murphy (CAI), Linda King (City of Lowell), Dave McCloskey (LTLC), Sue Fink (City of Lawrence), Melissa Glassman (Eliot CHS)

Network Updates:

Community Action Inc. – In the process of rolling out the HomeCorp Grant, in the process of pre-screening for RAFT application.

City of Lowell – Advised that there would be a Food Security Conference in October 2012. Discussed an upcoming “gleaning” event that will engage the community and provide food for the food bank, pantries and homeless feeding programs

City of Lawrence – The CoC is focusing on Institutional Discharge Planning issues that arise in the region. In partnership with the Network, we will work to bring the Essex County Sheriff and Middlesex County Sheriff Office to the table to better align discharge of inmates into communities and the resources available that would reduce recidivism.

Lowell Transitional Living CenterReceived $68K in ESG funds for re-housing homeless individuals in the City of Lowell. Collaborating with Day Break and Emmaus/Mitch’s Place on a Rapid Re-Housing RFP recently issued from DHCD. Further reporting that the census is increasing once again with a marked increase in the number of women seeking shelter and 25% of the shelter population are young adults.

Community Teamwork, Inc – Based on data presented, the HCEC has established a daily Financial Assistance Workshop to all clients seeking financial assistance. This process has enabled the organization to better manage client flow. In its first month of operation, the Financial Assistance workshop had 232 participants. Subsidized housing workshops have rolled out across the Merrimack Valley with the newest workshop having been done in partnership with Greater Lawrence Community Action and will be held once per month. We anticipate holding this same workshop in partnership with Community Action Inc, beginning in October 2012. Currently 4 subsidized housing workshops are held in Lowell at CTI, 1 at Greater Lawrence Community Action, 1 at Salisbury Housing Authority. Reported out that the Housing Consumer Education Center has hired two HCEC counselors, Sandra Sanchez (speaks Spanish) and Bopha Peou (speaks Khmer and Vietnamese). Ms Peou will be the RAFT dedicated counselor who will have office hours at Community Action, Inc, Greater Lawrence Community Action and Emmaus.

Emmaus – Reporting that the “front door” Home Base staff at the Lawrence DTA is eeing upwards of 50 families per day, with just 1-2 EA entries each day since the beginning of the fiscal year. Also reporting that they have received 2 ESG grants. One ESG grant is to provide prevention assistance to families from lawrence, the other ESG grant is to provide rapid re-housing resources to homeless individuals out of Mitch’s Place.

Eliot CHS– Have re-housed one homeless individual with ESG funds and have funds remaining to re-house 4 more homeless individuals.

COMPASS for Kids – Seeking families to participate in their program. Also seeking to expand their partnerships with community service providers.

Home Base UpdateThe “front door” to Home Base has been changed in the current fiscal year. These changes have led a to a great many families being turned away, due to being ineligible for EA services under the “new rules”. Concerns raised regarding the out comes of those families having been deemed ineligible for EA and where those families wind up in terms of seeking out further assistance. It was also reported that there are 1,763 families in EA motel shelter currently with 121 of those families in EA Motel Shelter in the Merrimack Valley region.. All MV have been assessed for barriers with 3 potential tracks of service; 1.) Home Base 2.) Shelter and/or 3.) MRVP – which is specifically targeted to families who possess all 3 criteria (receiving SSI, 200% FPL and must have entered the EA system between October 2011 and June 2012. To date there are 1200 Merrimack Valley families in the Home Base program.

RAFTDiscussed briefly the income eligibility guidelines. Stressed that RAFT is a resource, not an entitlement with very strict guidelines around who is eligible. RAFT dedicated staff will be based at CTI, with set office hours/times across the Merrimack Valley, in partnership with GLCAC, CAI and Emmaus, Inc. Recently hired personnel will begin the outreach process across the MV.

Subcommittee Reports

There were no subcommittee meetings this past month.

New Business

Regional EA Motel Exit Plan – Discussed the regional plan recently formulated at a Performance Imporvement Clinic, sponsored by ONE Family. The MVRN’s plan is to work in support of CTI and Emmaus, Inc to re-house 50 families emergenecy motel shelter within 90 days.

House of Correction Discharge Planning – Lowell and Lawrence will work to pull their respective House of Corrections to the table to establish discharge planning policy that directly links newly released inmates with resources in the community to reduce the incidience of homelessness and the likelihood of recidivism.

Home Corp- Granted to MASSCAP to provide foreclosure prevention services statewide that will include legal services and housing relocation assistance for those whose foreclosures are unable to be stopped. Consumer must register through the MA Attorney General’s office.

Next meeting:

October 15, 2012 @ 2pm

Greater Lawrence Community Action Inc

305 Essex St Lowell, MA



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