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Three County Continuum of Care Quarterly Newsletter

Committed to The Goal of Ending Homelessness in Hampshire, Franklin, and Berkshire Counties

This Newsletter will go out every three months. To make suggestions/share content email HERE.

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Racial Equity Plan

The Three County CoC, along with the Western Mass Network to End Homelessness, is dedicated to undoing structural racism and support Legislative priorities that address policies needed to increase equitable measures for people of color in the intersection of race and homelessness as well as upstream budget and bills that support funding to increase support for our most vulnerable populations.  Here are our 2022  Budget Legislative Priorities!

From March 9th- April 6th the Three County COC, in conjunction with the Hampden COC, sponsored by the Western Mass Network to End Homelessness brought to our partners the, "Western Mass Shelter and Housing Partner Training Series Spring 2022". The training series consisted of 5 virtual workshops focused on advancing racial equity across shelter and housing systems, in the work to end homelessness, facilitated by Racial Equity Partners. If you were unable to attend, contact kpereira@communityaction.us for the recordings.

CE System Evaluation Update! Over the past 6 months, The Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance, in partnership with C4 Initiatives has evaluated our (along with other MA CoCs) Coordinated Entry System with an equity lens. Their efforts were to enhance and maintain equitable housing outcomes. Service Providers, CoC staff and leads and people with lived experience completed surveys and/or participated in listening sessions to give their perspectives, our data was evaluated.. and here are the results! 

You can find the public facing 2021 Three County CoC Racial Equity Action Plan here

New Housing Spotlight - Safe Havens

Safe Havens is a housing first model focusing on serving hard-to-reach individuals with significant mental illness and homelessness. Additionally, Safe Havens is a stabilization service intended to provide a gradual transition with goal of establishing stable independent housing. This is a particular challenge for people who have largely been disconnected from any number of services or supports for years. As Eliot Homeless Services manager Jay Levy puts it, the people Safe Havens looks to help tend not to be the ones raising their hands to get the attention of the treatment community. Rather, most often they are the ones who had a history of negative experiences with social services and psychiatric interventions.

Given that reality, our early experience at our Greenfield Safe Havens site demonstrates the importance of providing an unconditional welcoming and accepting space. We notice that when residents feel that their housing will not be threatened by a number of seemingly arbitrary rules and restrictions, they are able to settle in and begin to build trust. Already in the first weeks and months of the program, we find that some guests who have had problems engaging in other residential services are responding positively to the Safe Havens approach.

Clinical Support Options Director Kristin Smith notes, “Safe Haven combines necessary pieces of the low threshold and housing first models. It's exciting to offer this space to our community members in both Franklin and Hampshire counties. The success of other Safe Haven programs shows this is a model which will have positive impacts on both individual and community wide levels.”

There are about a dozen Safe Havens programs around the state that are funded through the Department of Mental Health (DMH) including a Safe Havens program in Westfield that has been operating for a few years. The Greenfield Safe Havens contract is the second in Western Massachusetts. It was awarded to Clinical & Support Options to serve Franklin and Hampshire counties. There are 7 beds which opened in February 2022 and were quickly filled by men and women for both counties.

As a DMH funded program, potential residents must first meet the criteria and be found eligible for DMH services before being able to access the program. DMH eligibility can present a significant barrier for folks who are reluctant to engage in mental health services or do not have a well-documented psychiatric history. Experience in other Safe Havens programs informs us that the engagement and screening process takes time. We are grateful to the Three County CoC and Eliot Services for sharing their expertise and collaborating with DMH and CSO on the referral and screening process. If you are working with someone or know someone who might be a good fit for Safe Havens, do not hesitate to reach out to the DMH offices in Greenfield or Northampton to consult about a potential referral.


Informative Articles

Here are a list of Informative and Recent Articles addressing the homelessness challenges Nationally and Locally:


Emergency Housing Vouchers

The Three County CoC has been working to prioritize local people experiencing homelessness for a new housing resource!

The Emergency Housing Vouchers are federal housing vouchers available for individuals and families experiencing or at risk of homelessness. Three County CoC received 68 vouchers in total: 15 vouchers with Franklin County Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority, 17 vouchers with Northampton Housing, and 36 vouchers with The Department of Housing & Community Development (DHCD). The CoC prioritized serving individuals and families experiencing homelessness and fleeing domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and human trafficking. Referrals for the EHVs were required to go through the CoC’s Coordinated Entry (CE) System. Vouchers were issued through the CE System based on assessment score, vulnerability, and whether or not a household had one or more members who belong to a population overrepresented in our homeless data. As of December 2021, the CoC has made referrals for all 68 EHVs. At this time, many of the EHV referrals are beginning or in the midst of their housing search. Currently as of May 4th 2022, Berkshire has 2 voucher holders housed, Northampton has 9 housed, and in Franklin 4 housed. The CoC encourages area landlords and property owners to partner with the efforts to house individuals and families who hold these vouchers. If you are a landlord and interested in renting to someone with an EHV voucher, please contact Shaundell Diaz @ sdiaz@communityaction.us.

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Upcoming CoC Sponsored Events

  1. Fair Housing 101 Workshop


Three County COC is Hiring

Intake and Referral Specialist

This role will support the Three County Continuum of Care’s Coordinated Entry (CE) and homelessness response systems by coordinating the referral process for individuals and families seeking housing and shelter assistance through Coordinated Entry managing referrals to partner agencies and other resources, training partner agencies, and supporting the management of system of access for vulnerable populations. This position will also help individuals and families successfully utilize housing resources, aid in housing search and landlord engagement and will lead communication with the administering agency for housing assistance payments & financial assistance including initiatives like Emergency Housing Vouchers. This is a full time position at 37.5 hrs/wk, Pay range: $19.33-$20.50 /hr. Apply Here

Gandara is Hiring

The Ga̒ndara Center provides residential, mental health, substance use, and preventive services for children, adults, and families across the Pioneer Valley and Eastern parts of Massachusetts. Founded in the Hispanic community, we value cultural diversity and strive to provide culturally competent, innovative services to a diverse community. The mission of The Ga̒ndara Center is to promote the well-being of Hispanics, African-Americans, and other culturally diverse populations, through innovative, culturally competent behavioral health, prevention, and educational services. Empowering Lives. Restoring Families

Mental Health Association is Hiring


What We Do

MHA (Mental Health Association) helps people live their best life. We provide access to therapies for emotional health and wellness; services for substance use recovery, developmental disabilities and acquired brain injury; services for housing and residential programming, and more. With respect, integrity and compassion, MHA provides each individual served through person-driven programming to foster independence, community engagement, wellness and recovery.

Why It Matters

The youth, adults, seniors and families we serve want the same things in life as anyone: to have friends, work, go to school, have meaningful relationships, express themselves (and be heard), and be accepted in their community for who they are. With our help and resources from a caring community, people can live their potential, in their community, every day.

How We Think

Starting in the 1960s, MHA’s groundbreaking efforts and advocacy helped to transition people away from institutional living to a life in our community. This became a model for the deinstitutionalization movement. Today, our leadership continues to advance awareness of mental health conditions and needs at local, regional and national levels. We drive compassionate care for those challenged by mental health, developmental disabilities, substance use, homelessness, acquired brain injury and more.

  • Check out and apply for position postings here.

For all other open positions, and to stay up to date on what is happening within our community, subscribe to the Franklin County Resource Network.

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Point in Time (PIT) Data

The Three County CoC conducted the 2022 Point in Time (PIT) Count on February 23rd this year. The Point in Time Count is an attempt to try and determine how many people are experiencing homelessness on a single night during winter across the country. For the PIT Count, the Three County CoC tries to count how many people are currently experiencing homelessness both in shelters and in unsheltered situations such as vehicles or encampment. This year we see an uptick with 542 people counted as experiencing homelessness between Hampshire, Franklin, and Berkshire Counties. Of these 542 people, 400 were individuals, 142 were people in families with children under 18.

If you are interested in becoming part of the planning efforts for future counts, have any questions about the count, or are looking for county level data please contact Michele LaFleur at mlafleur@communityaction.us.

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Have You Heard

Breaking News!  

For FY21,The Three County CoC has been awarded, $3,051,996 in COC HUD funding including housing and supportive services; efforts to manage equity and access; data collection and reporting; and coordination of efforts to end homelessness in the Three County Region (Hampshire, Franklin, and Berkshire Counties).

Hampshire Gazette and The Recorder article can be read here.


In addition to regular and YHDP program renewals, the CoC also received new funding for the following projects:

Coordinated Entry Expansion Project to meet the need of survivors of domestic violence, including funding to provide housing navigators at the entrance to homelessness for survivors and system efforts to consider the specific needs for safety/confidentiality, etc. – $124,850

Permanent Supportive Housing through Independent Housing Solutions – 16 units with onsite medical/mental health support in Northampton – $145,433


HUD’s announcement includes links for the full list of awards.

Youth Count 2022

The Massachusetts 2022 Youth Count concludes this week. In total, our region recorded 77 survey responses. The intention of the Youth Count survey is to collect information about young people experiencing housing instability and homelessness in the state. The survey results serve as critical tools to inform funding decisions and highlight focus areas for change. For more information, visit: https://www.facebook.com/MAYouthCount/ "


Legislative Action

The Western Massachusetts Network to End Homelessness convened over 200 partners and state leaders from across the four western counties to share the latest data on the region's homelessness and share solutions going forward. Please see the presentation here.

Additionally, the State House of Representatives passed its Fiscal Year 2023 budget with some good investments in housing and homelessness (go here for more detail). Next week the State Senate budget process will begin. Please be sure to connect to the Network blog to stay connected to how we can impact this process and make sure our priorities are heard! Please subscribe here. 


For Local resources, please visit the Look4help website.



Every Newsletter the CoC will "Spotlight" a major person, or an Agency that is doing something big in the community.

Lisa – Person with Lived Experience 

  Hello Everyone. I am honored to share my life's journey and experience, along with working with The COC. It is humbling to speak of self in this context. Our work is about giving of oneself to benefit others.


 I derive my passion and empathy for the underdog from my father Vincent. After being unjustly fired as a busboy with an eighth grade education, he became a well-respected. formidable Labor Leader, rising to Director of Organization of The Hotel, Restaurant & Bartenders International Union. Years earlier he and his strikers broke the Yale University commencement line for the first time in its history, protesting for improved workers’ rights. My dad represented the cafeteria, hotel and bartenders in New Haven.

He negotiated landmark contracts for his members, sparring with high priced attorneys and walking all over them. He supported civil rights when it was not popular for a white man to do so. I remember being on the picket line in Connecticut. The excitement, connectivity with others and a collective belief in helping those in need, is a feeling that remains with me. It is the same surge of positive energy I get working with the COC.


 My parents sacrificed financially to give me a cultured upbringing and the opportunity to attend private schools. The Union afforded us luxury trips to Europe, the Caribbean and US. I spoke, read and wrote in French. I mention this solely for background sake, to compare my high living opportunities to street existing. I became a heavy alcoholic in my early twenties, with decades of a horrible addiction to follow.


 Born in Connecticut, I have lived in California, Washington DC and Florida, where I was homeless for six years. Social services are abysmal in the South. After conferring with my nb, I moved to Massachusetts in May of 2019. They helped me with hotels and Airbnb's initially, but still drinking excessively I was soon sleeping outside in Northampton.


 That fall I was given a bed at The Grove Street Inn Shelter. I had never been in a shelter and like other homeless persons, stated "I'd rather be outside." Certainly a challenging situation that worked out for me. I received excellent case management through ServiceNet, a terrific PCP and Mass Health. Within six months I was offered subsidized housing through CHD in Millers Falls. The isolated location and lack of transportation was a concern, yet I was not turning down secured housing.


 I have lived in my current apartment since February 2020. I continued to drink until going to detox on 3/17/2021. I have not drank alcohol since. I cannot stress enough that housing must come first. Despite a desperate desire to quit, resources and opportunities, I could not have done it without the security of having a safe home to begin my recovery.


 I am immensely grateful to be alive. My varied experiences have given me a diversified perspective of people and society. I am comfortable on the street or in the boardroom. I was raised without prejudice. I have had regrets about not making a difference and doing something worthwhile with my life. I now have that opportunity with the COC, whom I joined last Fall as a Person with Lived Experience. I share my experiences, thoughts and ideas about homelessness, my experience with the Coordinated Entry System, and ways to improve the system. It is exciting to be part of something new and progressive. Improving the system from within, while giving a voice to Persons with Lived Experience.


 I feel respected, valued and fairly compensated by the COC. I am fortunate to be part of such an eclectic, thoughtful and innovative group. They have taken not only a professional interest in me, they are most supportive of me personally as well.


 I enjoy and value my work greatly and would like to do more towards helping others achieve the happiness, independence and sense of purpose that I have.


Thank you!

CTC Racial Justice Workgroup


We strive to:

  • Celebrate our cultural diversity.

Lift the voices of youth of color.

Create networking opportunities for folks of color.

  • To increase understanding among Coalition participants of the impact of oppressive systems on health and socio-economic well-being.
  • To identify and lead new coalition strategies to address the impact of white supremacy on our coalition and community, and to improve health and well-being particularly for people of color.


This work group is chaired by people of color and contains predominantly folks of color. The exact scope of work is developed by the workgroup in collaboration with the CTC Coordinating Council. The Workgroup provides guidance for the Advancing Racial Justice in Schools Initiative and organizes community events that focus on racial and social justice.


Co chairs 

Matt Allen: 


Lee Collins Lambert: 


 Shaundell Diaz:


Staff contact

Leigh-Ellen Figueroa


Keleigh Pereira- Three County Continuum of Care Program Director


The Three COC would like to Spotlight one of our very own! Keleigh is graduating from the UMASS "University without Walls Interdisciplinary Studies" Program. She has completed her bachelors of Art with a concentration on Social Policy and Administration. Keleigh also won the Leadership award for the University Without Walls. Please take a moment to read the 2022 Senior Series on Keleigh. Congratulations!!!!!!!!


CoC Funded Project Updates

Louison House

Louison House has provided Transitional & Permanent Housing & sheltering for the Northern Berkshire community and beyond for over 30 years. This work includes case management; life skills; budgeting; housing support services; transportation; food; and many other services for over 70 residents per year in pre-COVID times and before the fire to our building in 2016. We were finally  able to move back to the building in March 2020, just in the start of COVID. During COVID we safely housed about 40 per year and did not have to shut down or close doors at any time. This past year we did have a few cases of COVID for the first time, but were able to isolate the spread to 6 people. We do not have the space we once had due to needs for accessible bathrooms and hallways and other common spaces, which led to smaller bedrooms. We also added wall dividers between the beds to aid in following COVID protocols.  People stay longer due to limited housing and high prices so it is only humane to give each person more of a cubby hole with semi-privacy within the rooms. This means serving less people at any one time and working to maintain a valuable community program, supported by community and foundation funding, in addition to the CoC funding.  The CoC dollars remain the same since mid 1990's & cover less than 40% of the costs to staff and maintain the program. As prices have risen, Louison House has managed to obtain more local funding to provide quality housing and supportive services for families and individuals in the same building.  Due to the support of our community, Louison House was able to secure Mass DHCD funding in order to rebuild both the TH building, keep the temporary TH, and even landscape and create garden beds. The TH location, while a little removed from close housing neighbors, is just a short walk to the public bus &stores. We remained open and continued to provide services, while most area service agencies were closed, or only serving remotely, 

This year, in addition to keeping everything going while still in the midst of COVID, we were able to house all 25 of those who left TH into some form of permanent housing that was safe and affordable. We are proud of our work and ability to rebuild and maintain a building and staff the TH house 24/7 for safety of residents, especially children. Louison House houses many people with difficult housing barriers and provides a lot of residential services to connect them to resources. 




Four Rivers School Spotlight on Upstanders!

Read more from the Students at Four Rivers School on Upstanders in the community. The students have been focusing on food insecurities and homelessness for the last year.

Read More