Homes for Families’ Notes from DHCD Shelter Contract Meeting

 Meeting Notes

DHCD-EA Provider Meeting, June 3, 2011

Disclaimer: The following notes are not official minutes, were not approved or seen by DHCD and may contain inaccuracies. 

Bob Pulster:

DHCD had been planning the meeting for a long time

There is a lot going on and a tremendous amount of work being done to move the system; there have been lots of conversations leading up to the meeting and systems change

We are close to 3,000 placements! Which is an all time record.  Most are through flex funds and some placements through traditional subsidies. Thanks to everyone.  Proud of the placements and acknowledges the amount of work into making them possible.

Acknowledge the tornado and devastation inWestern MA.  DHCD has been intensively involved over the last 48 hours.  The meeting’s intent is on the intensive look at shelters and contracts, but thoughts and prayers are with our colleagues inW. MA

120 families were on busses to go to a temporary shelter at t a high school.  The city will be condemning more buildings over the next few days so that number will increase.  CHD, HAP and New England Farm workers have all been chipping in. 20 of the families that were displaced have subsidies.  Staff is triaging

A lot of work has been done on the budgets and operational issues.  Liz Curtis has been a real partner and Tina has made a tremendous effort to understand the work, how to fund and how to move forward.

Undersecretary Tina Brooks:

Thank you for attending this needed discussion.  Lots of change has already happened and additional changes need to happen.

The FY12 Budget language captures the framework; it is now in conference but we need to move forward and make some assumptions.

There are a lot of unknowns: what will the demand be at the front door? How many families will be in motels at the end of the FY? These are things that we don’t know, but will have to watch and adjust.

Many partners have been invited to the table to work on the crisis: the networks, Regional Nonprofits, and while there are lots of cooks in the kitchen, we need to bring all resources to the table.

Acknowledged meeting with the small group of providers- a frank conversation about what is needed.  They have some answers and ideas and unknowns based on that feedback.  Subsequent to the meeting, they made some modifications to their plan.  And assume that they will get the eraser out after today’s meeting-they are planning in pencil not pen

The State Government’s view is to move from shelters creating service rich environments to stabilize families to where families can access the support they need in their homes and communities.  There is currently a deficiency in consistency and of supportive housing and community supports.  Shelters have an understanding of the needs of the community.

A shelter based system and community based system are not separate worlds, Acknowledge the strength of shelter providers; whose expertise must be leveraged as an important partner in this effort.

DHCD acknowledges the criticism that they need to be more aggressively forming or asserting relationships/links between shelters and the RNP’s.

The environment is in flux; but the vision was explained in January and has been tweaked along the way in the budget process, so this is the first opportunity to talk as a group.  They have been talking a lot about what happens outside of shelter…now need to bring the conversation back to being shelter-centric.

DHCD looked at:

  1. How to develop a fair reimbursement strategy
  2. What is it like to run a program/what is needed
  3. What does it cost

Need to underscore that the goal is to run from a service rich shelter to a community based program.  FY12 is not the end game.  There needs to be supportive housing. There needs to be funding for this agenda. There is a tension, because the only way to offer support is through the EA account

There is opportunity-what will we need to be successful? What is the end game? The goal is an appropriate response at every level.  HomeBASE, EA, and the Young Family program is a start.  Need a shelter system with a customized approach with diversified funding:

An example is with Veterans: the #’s are not massive; there are sufficient VASH vouchers, and better relationships and coordination with stakeholders

Need to develop the better approach with young parents-we are in the middle stage of this reform

We want to hear more about stabilization challenges.  What is the model that makes the most sense? What does it take? What are the matrixes of success?

Money and Contracts

The framework:

  • Reimbursement rates are currently all over the place
  • Economically, the state is in a tough place where every dollar needs to be justified
  • There is a need to develop a reimbursement rate that fits with the reform
  • The intent of the design is to assure that are core appropriations for shelters to function: a director; a book keeper/finance person; direct care staff; and support workers
  • They tried to determine core costs at 20 bed increments; shelter programs range from 6-80 beds
  • Want to create a module that can be evaluated
  • Developed “BASE RATE” to cover the core budgets acknowledging  that congregate is more expensive than scattered site
  • The BASE RATE was applied to the current rates.  36% of shelters currently operate within 5% of the base rate.
  • Lower tiered, BASE RATE programs will be cut at a maximum of 5%, this included 19 programs
  • Some  programs have more intensive or enhanced rate, generally additional staffing
  • DHCD developed an “ENHANCED RATE” (casemanagerandmanager) and applied that rate to all programs
  • There were still a significant number of programs that had rates higher than the “advanced rate”
  • Cuts for these programs would have ranged from 16% to 39%.  After provider meeting, it was determined that all cuts would be capped at 15%.  (had determined 20%)

Motel Strategy:

DPH/For Families will be cut as well

Focus will be to enter motels aggressively with the HomeBASE resource

Projecting that they can shut down 30% of motels within 6 months; saving $200,000/mo to reinvest to protect shelters

They have accounted for all amendments that they think will get through conference committee, including the higher rental budget and technical changes

Question and Answers/Comments

Questions, answers/comments have been grouped together by category as opposed to the order in which they were asked as there was some repetition. 


Q: Did you look at location/geography when doing the rate analysis

A: We expected to, but 40% of theBostonshelters fell into the BASE RATE category.  The disparity is not due to geography

Q: We’ve done a lot of work to rehouse families, link to resources, etc.  What expectations of service will go away?

A: Everything should be housing based.  Tenancy, budgeting, GED; ask “does this person need this?” Job development is not a responsibility of shelters unless there is outside funding for it. State support for shelters is based on tenancies.

Q: Does the reimbursement template for staff adhere to the minimum staffing requirements in the re-procurement/contract/scope?

A: Yes.  We have to keep shelters whole during the transition.  Shelters need to be able to respond to emergencies ad unknown flux.  All parts of the system share the common goal-to get out of motels.  That is our best opportunity to reinvest

Q: Will there be a Length of Stay goal/expectation on shelters?

A: No; families 21 and under should stay around 8 months.  It will be a challenge to move families from shelter.  Will have to figure out region by region, but families will be eligible, but there will be a lack of resources so no length of stay expectation

(Bob) We want to make sure the program works and there are 4 targets:

  1. Front door
  2. Motels
  3. Flex/HPRP
  4. Shelters

Placement goals won’t work with no resources.  Shelters will need to adjust and build relationships with the Regional Administering Agencies

Q: We face a high transportation cost on theCapeand health insurance costs for staff

A: (back to Tina) Will talk about further

Q: How soon will contracts be out? Will there be time to negotiate?

A: Next Week

Q: What about scattered sites?

A: They will stay as they are now, as emergency shelter.  Can do rolling stock.  Maybe some will get taken down in areas with less need, but not enough that it is worth discussing. When you get the money in your contracts, you can do with it what you want.

Need to focus on motels and all units are needed for FY12

Q: What is the cost savings from the cuts?

A: It is not a cost savings, but standardizing rates.  It is not a significant savings in contracts.  The goal is that there are no motels in FY13.  There will be no more flex funds.  Money will be in shelter and HomeBASE.

The most expensive program component is the Young Parents who will stay for 8 months before graduating out.  It will require a lot of beds as families won’t be exiting rapidly.

Q: Can you talk about the staffing Ratio’s; there is not sufficient FTE’s for 24/7 coverage

A: Prefer not to look at staffing; will have 1 on 1 conversations next week; the rate amount was based on the midpoint of the current rates

Young Parents

Q: Can you clarify what you mean by a Young Parent program; there is confusion in the field?

A: (Liz) There has been lots of confusion and work done so that people understand how the new program will work and how the programs will intersect.  DCF is legally mandated to re-price their programs and will issue an RFR later this year.  As young families enter the system it will be by chance of going to a TLP or a congregate.  How do we maximize both?  We are working with DCF to clarify.

Obtaining a GED will be a major long term goal and indicator for the young parent programs

Q: Have programs been identified as Young Parent/Family programs?

A: Congregates won’t be mutually exclusive, there won’t be designated programs but a mixture

Q: Can you describe the Young Parent Program?

A: A longer LOS; need a focused skill matrix and understanding; 8 mo expected LOS but can exit out sooner, but needed a base to measure success as program.  YPs are eligible for HomeBASE

Programs do not have to be a designated Young Parent Program, especially where there is less demand.  There will be a mix of families in congregates

There has been discussion about young parents being defined up to age 24; there was not enough shelter beds or money to make this happen so the intent is to start with the youngest and most vulnerable and possibly grow to 24 in the second year or adjust as it in implemented


Q: What about stabilization?

A: It is a separate component.  And shelters can subcontract with the Regional Administering Agencies

Q: How?

A: It will be regionally based.  DHCD will be more active in navigating and asserting these relationships

Stabilization needs to be looked at from the family perspective.  They need a supportive system; some long term; some short term.  HomeBASE will do the housing placement and stabilization.

(Bob): Stabilization will continue in Comp2 for families placed in FY11 and those receiving extensions.  As families transition to HomeBASE, their stabilization provider will become HomeBASE

(Tina): Program designs for distinct subpopulations will need to be developed

Q: Stabilization will have to be a big component; what is the expected case load?

A: That is a HomeBase Question.  Lizbeth has designed a set of tiers.

Q: We have concerns about handing the stabilization case load over as so much depends on the relationship and trust?

A: But there is an end game that supersedes the relationship.  The goal is to get families stable in the community and not dependant on the system.  Shelters primary goal and mission is to shelter and re-house.  How can shelters keep up with the caseloads? At some point there needs to be a transition.  The regionals know the service providers and are like minded agencies and can take a regional approach

(Liz): Want to maintain the skills and determine the best approach to stabilization on a regional level and reduce duplication and focus on what is best to serve the families

Q: Can you clarify stabilization cuts?

A: Yes.  Current stabilization funding will be split between HomeBASE and shelters.

Q: Can we revisit stabilization and check our understanding?

A: There was$6.3M in FY11-1/2 will go to HomeBASE and ½ to shelter for current stabilization families

Q: So there is an expectation of stabilization but a cut? Will caseloads double?

A: We will need to have a separate meeting on stabilization.  It is understood that the need decreases over time

-Crowd: this is true only when the exit is into permanent housing, not into short term.  Often the work is more intense as time goes on in short term subsidies as the housing search continues

Q: Who does Stabilization for families placed in FY12?

HomeBASE- so by the regionals or subcontracts

Q: What if placements are made directly to public housing and not through HomeBASE?

A: The shelters

Tina: Will there be much placement into housing and not through HomeBASE?

HomeBASE and the intersection of shelters

Q: HomeBASE providers have been working under the presumption that shelters would have the capacity to provide stabilization services.  Not having this core strength changes things?

A: Biggest expenses are shelters and motels; there is a cash flow problem; For Families will be front loaded to get families out of motels. Contracts will be for 6 months; starting the new system will be the hardest part-will have to reconvene and re-assess

Q: With the intro of HomeBASE, will this be the final year of component 2?

A: That has not been brought up and is not expected.  We want shelters to continue to do stabilization.  Have not thought about closing that door

Q: Would it be through subcontracts instead of through DHCD?

A: We still will need to see what work. If we had a supportive housing pipeline we will need shelters to provide those services.  Shelters have been some of the best developers

Q: Please explain the process as families enter shelter/are in shelter?

(Bob) HomeBASE will be eligible for a small number of families.  Still expect housing application.  Develop an organic link between HomeBASE and shelter

Q: There seems to be conflicting messages between HomeBASE providers and DHCD’s messages about stabilization; which makes it difficult to plan?

A: The Regional Administering Agencies know what their contract amounts are and caseloads and had nothing to do with the shelter contracts for stabilization.

Discussion: The budget on day 1 does not mean the same budget for day 21; they have to defend the system


Q: What is the strategy for motels?

A: For Families will be mobilized to do a full court press and work with the regional HomeBASE administrators to rehouse.  Then they will reprogram the cash saved.  They will work motel by motel

Relying on For Families who are paid for (and cut by) DHCD because they are in the motels and can link with the regionals.

Q: Some shelters have experience in covering motels at no up front cost?

Bob: There are pockets where motels are covered but no strategy statewide and programs did get the placement bonuses.  There is a capacity question as there is a staff of 14 for all the motels.

Q: The question is to their capacity/capability (audience agreement) (when compared to shelters)

Bob: they are not here to defend themselves.  There will be more coordination because of HomeBASE

Q: Are there negotiations and cuts to the motels:

A: The rates have been decreased from$110-100/night to $80/night

No reductions in FY12, but they have no contracts with the motels, it is all nightly

Flex Fund Announcement (Bob)

  • “Sun set the Flex Fund Program”
  • $18.5 of the $20M has been spent
  • Most programs have spent their allocation and with pipeline will just about max out.
  • Do not start the Flex Fund process with any new families
  • Families in the pipeline can be processed, but all paper work must be submitted by the 10th
  • Next Friday will be the last day so for the paperwork and lease and then the focus will be the transition to HomeBASE
  • Can lease up through June 30th as long as paperwork is in
  • It is projected that full $20M will have been spent by the end of the month
  • Extensions can still be processed/requested through June 30th


  • The list of 280 families needing extensions in July was sent to each program but the Contract Managers.  Check with the contractmanagers as it has been confirmed that this information went out.
  • The Regional Administering Agencies will pay rent on July 1.  Families must be given adequate notice of rent increase.  A letter will be sent stating the increase for August (or Sept),  A clarifying email will be sent on Monday regarding the transition strategy

One thought on “Homes for Families’ Notes from DHCD Shelter Contract Meeting

  1. I think someone needs to build more housing /higher taxes on alchohol especially in the clubs maybe that way we can save people from drinking and driving aswell.


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