Three County Continuum of Care
August 2023 Newsletter (6th ed.)
1. Have You Heard?
Summer is typically a time for rest and relaxation, but here at the CoC we are busier than ever! Last month, HUD released its FY23 Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO). $3.1 billion are available for all CoCs to apply for. The Three County CoC put out our RFP last week--responses are due on August 29th, and the final application is due to HUD on September 28th. See our 2023 NOFO page for information on funding, project types, timeline, and more! And if your agency is interested in applying for funds, the CoC is hosting a Bidder's Conference on August 11th at 2:00. You can register here.
CoC staff members have also attended a number of conferences this summer: the Point Source Youth National Symposium on Solutions to End Youth Homelessness; a one-day virtual conference from the National Human Services Data Consortium; and the 2023 National Conference on Ending Homelessness. If you are interested, you can read more about these conferences here!
2. Legislation and Advocacy
The Network has had a busy few months representing western Massachusetts at legislative hearings and briefings on our priority bills. Our testimony has been heard before the Joint Housing Committee, the Joint Judiciary Committee and the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities. You can see our recent testimony here:
MA State House; June 6, 2023
The Network also represented and spoke at the legislative briefing in support of the local option for a Transfer Free for Affordable Housing and rallied at the State House in support of the local option for Rent Control and the Foreclosure Prevention Program.
Finally, we're thrilled that members of the Hampden County Youth Action Board testified in support of the MA ID bill. It was an honor for the Network to support their preparation - and they did a fantastic job!
Be sure you're signed on to the Network blog at http://westernmasshousingfirst.org or contact Pamela Schwartz at firstname.lastname@example.org to get more involved. Western Massachusetts is getting heard. Let's get even louder!
3. Shelter Updates
Clinical & Support Options (CSO) has continued 24-hour programming and sheltering services for people experiencing homelessness in Greenfield & Northampton. Since April 1st, CSO supported 16 Franklin and Hampshire County shelter guests in moving to Permanent Housing opportunities. In June, the nonprofit community behavioral health agency increased capacity at the Greenfield shelter from 30 to 40 beds. This summer, CSO added full-time nurses, working with shelter guests in both Greenfield and Northampton. A part-time clinical coordinator was added in Northampton.
Guests at the shelters benefit from other CSO local services and supports, including its Community Behavioral Health Center, crisis and respite services, Police co-response initiative, and DPH-funded “Low Threshold Housing” program.
ServiceNet has taken on case management for the 48 immigrant and refugee families who arrived in Greenfield in June. The 150 people residing at the Days Inn receive interpretation services, meal deliveries, and other supports for families from ServiceNet.
Additionally, ServiceNet is opening a new shelter in Pittsfield! Renovations are still ongoing, and a ribbon cutting event is planned for September. More details to come!
4. Project Updates
On July 1st, central Massachusetts Community Action agency Making Opportunity Count (MOC) took over a contract for 34 beds of Permanent Supportive Housing in Franklin and Hampshire Counties that was previously held by CHD (this contract also includes 10 beds in Berkshire County that are now held by Louison House). We are so excited to begin this new partnership and are so grateful to CHD for all the work they have done and continue to do in the community!
5. PIT Count
The Winter 2023 PIT Count Report is available!
Data from the Warmer Months Count is still being analyzed, but there were at least 80 people experiencing unsheltered homelessness on the night of June 14th in our three-county area. A full report will be shared once it is completed.
Of the 49 units, which are a combination of “one, two, and three-bedroom apartments and townhouses, with several units being mobility device accessible”, “ten of the apartments have been reserved for families experiencing housing instability or homelessness.”
“The issue is worst for people of color. Black and Latino people account for almost two-thirds of unhoused people locally, while accounting for less than a fifth of the general population.”
The Homeless World Cup is a “remarkable weeklong competition among athletes who have been homeless within the past two years”. It “aims to rehabilitate people who have experienced homelessness by encouraging them to learn to play soccer and work twoard an objective. By training with a team, they build relationships and develop confidence, which can help them secure employment and housing.”
Lisa Wrightmans, coach of the U.S Women’s Team who was a player on the 2010 team, remarked that “For all of us, playing gave us so much joy, to feel happy again, to see other people happy.” She went on to explain that “We didn’t have to pretend like we didn’t have our history. Everybody at that tournament had that history — that’s why you’re there.”
“More than 500 people are interested in becoming the first tenants at East Gables, a housing project with 28 efficiency apartments for low- and moderate- incomes individuals scheduled to open in the early fall at 132 Northampton Road...Almost 400 of those who put their names into the lottery qualify as earning at or below 30% area median income, or $19,800, while 280 of the applicants came from people who are unhoused”
This tool uses "data to show where to prioritize emergency rental assistance and other housing resources to support renters most in need".
North Adams is 82nd in the Emergency Rental Assistance Priority Index percentile--meaning North Adams' percentage of low-income renters is 82% higher than in all other census tracts in the state. Downtown Pittsfield is in the 96th percentile. Greenfield is in the 86th percentile. Amherst (east of Amherst College) is in the 100th percentile of cost-burdened renter households (renter households with incomes less than $35,000 that are paying 50% or more of their incomes on rent).
7. Upcoming Trainings and Events
Racial Equity Partners, who hosted a 5-part Racial Equity training series in the spring, are hosting a two-part Racial Equity Workshop. The first training, on August 24th from 1:00-3:00 is focused on the application of racial equity practices. This workshop will include real-life scenarios and strategies for racial healing, specifically in the workplace. Register here. The second training on August 31st from 1:00-3:00 will be a historical analysis of the post-civil rights era (1968 and forward). Registration for that is available here.
Additionally, the Technical Assistance Collaborative will be delivering three 2-hour trainings developed by their Race Equity Action Lab (REAL) team. The training will explore current and historical manifestations of race and racism, both overtly and covertly, and initial steps towards becoming an anti-racist practitioner. Didactic teaching sessions, large group discussions, and reflection will be incorporated. Participants will receive reading, videos, and/or podcasts between each training session to continue learning within their organization. Dates and registration will be sent out when available.
In collaboration with the Springfield CoC, we will be hosting an 8-part Lunch & Learn series. These trainings will be focused on topics such as SSI, SSDI, and SNAP. Dates and registration will be sent out when available.
On September 14th from 10:00-12:00 there will be a mandatory training for all Coordinated Entry assessors, as a new pronoun field will be available in HMIS beginning October 1st. Later in the fall, James Shultis will provide a series of trainings (dates TBD) on language, identity, and the LGBTQ+ community.
The CoC will be hosting our Annual Meeting next month! We intend for this to be an in-person event with a Zoom-in option available as well. More information will be available soon.
CSO continues to hire at all levels and is actively seeking both Housing and Recovery specialists. These positions (and other openings) can be found online at CSOInc.org/jobs. Learn more by contacting Director of Hampshire/Franklin Shelter and Housing Keleigh BenEzra by email at email@example.com.