Monthly Archives: August 2010

Data Committee Meeting Minutes – August 19, 2010

In Attendance:  Michael Doherty, Charlie Knight, Nicole Desabrais, Lori Ingraham,  Andrea Miller, Ron Krakowiak, Mary Orisich, Suzanne Smith.

Update on Funding of Data Analyst and Research Assistants Post 9/30 – Discussions between the three continua about merging HMIS systems have continued, and consultations with Social Solutions and others are ongoing.  It is currently looking like sharing staff among continuaa rather than data systems might be the best way to go.  The state will roll out Social Solutions as its new system in November, making it available to CoCs free of charge for the first year.  In addition to their HMIS system, Social Solutions has a promising new subscription software program called ETO Community, which would allow us to integrate data across the three continuaa.  This is currently looking like the best bet for merging and analyzing our data as a region, but it could take several months before full implementation.

The timing of these developments is such that Three County CoC HUD/HMIS funds will most likely not be available to fund the network level Data Analyst position in October, as the best use of those funds is still being determined.   In addition, the purchase of hardware and software for the network will be postponed until more is known about what will be needed in conjunction with the ETO Community software.  In the meantime, to continue to build on our current momentum, another source of funding will be found to extend the Data Analyst contract at a level that would be enough to sustain existing work and bridge the gap.

Housing Court  Data Collection: The committee strategized ways to continue Housing Court data collection and entry for ongoing analysis and follow up after the end of the ICHH grant. Providers who staff the housing court should continue to fill out forms.  Suzanne and Nicole will create a student internship or service learning position that will cover data  input and some analysis.    Nicole will pull together a description and list of appropriate college offices.   Suzanne will circulate to Judge Fields and committee for feedback before it is posted.

Performance Measurement:

Family Shelter entries have been increasing through late July and the early part of August, and hotel numbers have increased from the low of 166 on July 14th to 190 on August 14.  This is being seen statewide and coincides with the ICHH and balance of state HPRP funds having been used up.  The housing court has also seen more evictions as unemployment benefits have run out.  We discussed the ways we could look at expected levels of homelessness given the poverty rates in our area and compare that to what we are seeing to get a better handle on our impact.   We are not far enough in to some our family rehousing efforts to determine sustainability rates, but following up on whether our efforts resulted in sustainable housing of families will provide a key indicator.

On the individual side, we are up to 31 chronically homeless individuals housed through the ICHH grant, with a contract extension allowing for another 11 being placed in housing by March, 2011.

The Second Quarter Outcomes Report was distributed.  This report went to Leadership Council in July.  Some indicators still require data collection or quality improvement in order to be calculated accurately.  The monthly PIT counts are sometimes over estimated due to inaccurate exit dates entered into the HMIS system.   We are now going each provider to get the numbers for the given dates.    We are aiming to have the quarter 2 PIT counts by September 1, and until the new system is in place and data quality is assured, we will implement an automated  monthly survey to collect those numbers.

The Committee discussed ongoing data collection strategies post 9/30.  The best bet to bridge the time between the end of the grant and the beginning of new systems (SHORE’s move to Social Solutions in November, the three County CoC’s hiring of an HMIS administrator,  ETO community being up and running) will be to continue the monthly surveys of individuals and family providers, only expanding the provider list to include all providers and the questions to cover numbers relevant to the outcomes we want to measure.  These include number of families rehoused from shelter and hotels, monthly Point in Time counts, and the numbers of chronically homeless individuals housed throughout the region, not just through REACH programs but through other means as well.  The best tool will be an automated survey that will go out once per month with a limited number of questions asking for summary data, without any identifying information.  As the new systems roll out, these numbers can begin to serve as a check on data quality.  Reporting these survey results out will provide some needed feedback on how we are doing as a region.  This approach will keep us moving as we gather additional resources and implement the new systems.

 Next Meeting:

Tuesday, September 21,                                                                                                                                                                                     1-2:30                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Springfield Housing Court

Hampden County Diversion Meeting Minutes – 8/4/10

Diversion meeting – 8/4/10

In attendance:  John Bednaz, NEFWC, Martha Ceplikas, DHCD, Marcia Crutchfield, HAP, Leonard Hayes, Steve Huntley, VOC, Jane Lindfors, DTA domestic violence, Eneida Madho, DCF, Betty Miller, NEFWC, Ita Mullarkey, DHCD,  Jim Reis, HAP, Tom Salter, NEFWC, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Luz Vega, Womanshelter, Janette Vigo, YWCA

Current situation: Martha noted that applications have picked up tremendously this past week.  An average of 20 families/day.   John, diversion worker, confirmed big pick-up in traffic.

Staffing update: Assistant director position and new homeless coordinator hires moving along, awaiting Governor action.

NEFWC HPRP amendment for additional hire:    hoping to get approval within a couple of weeks, will post and hire immediately.

Space issue at DTA office: Ita will advocate for additional cubicle for DHCD on first floor for efficiency; consider possible move of clerical staff to 2nd floor.  John confirmed that move to 2nd floor would be very difficult for flow.

HAP’s conflict resolution services: HAP will offers two sessions per week starting the first week of September.  How do families get referred?  Jim will follow-up with DHCD and DCF to work out protocol, allowing for referrals from both to take place.

Housing Authorities: Can DHCD work with housing authorities on doubling up so they do not evict on that basis?   DHCD sent letter to housing authorities advising them not to evict on basis of doubling up.  Ita will send this memo to providers.

HAP ESG funds: Distributed guidelines and criteria for state ESG eligibility (Springfield guidelines will be available next week).   State funds ready to access now (city within the week).  $52K from state; $42K from city.  All cash assistance for families (note 3 month maximum of assistance).

HAP appointment system with diversion cases coming from DHCD: Expanded appointment times from 30 to 60 minutes to allow for completion of application process.  Will involve more counselors.  Will continue to iron out details with John and Martha as process evolves.

Motel update: HAP is out of funding and no longer working with families In motels.  VOC working with 30 families in motels.

Other issues:

Families in DV shelters, technically EA eligible but can’t become EA eligible because DV shelters do not ask families to leave so they are not eligible for diversion funds.  Everyone acknowledged the problem but Ita responded that with a shelter system over-capacity, 675 families living in motels, in a deficit spending situation…it is not possible to expand numbers entering the system any further.

Teen mothers:  Boston and Western Mass. have highest rate of people under 24 entering shelter.  Statistical reference should not be limited to Springfield alone since it actually refers to the entire region – citing “Springfield” alone does not accurately reflect the numbers and the demographics.

Next meeting: will merge with family services committee meeting on 9/14 at 1 pm at the Holyoke DTA office.

Visioning Day 2010: Ending Family Homelessness

Homes for Families

Visioning Day 2010

August 12, 2010

10 AM – 3 PM

Cost: FREE

Phelan Center

Clark University

950 Main Street

Worcester, MA 01610

What is Visioning Day?

Our annual event where key stakeholders meet to discuss solutions to end family homelessness in the Commonwealth.

Who Should Come?




Policy Makers


Click here to register!

Individual Services Committee Meeting Minutes – 8/2/10

Individual Services Committee Meeting Minutes – 8/2/10

In Attendance:  Christine Burns, Providence Ministries, Danielle DeBerry, ServiceNet, Yolanda Godard, Friends of the Homeless, Dave Havens, MHA, Janice Humason, Friends of the Homeless, Bill Miller, FOH, Dave Modzelewski, DMH, Tony Pereira, Carson Center, Thomas Poplawski, ServiceNet, Jerry Ray, MHA, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Suzanne Smith, Network, Eryn Tobin, Catholic Charities, Mark Warren, Brien Center, Ron Willoughby, Rescue Mission

Discharge Policy for area institutions:

Yolanda will turn brainstorm on discharge policy into a formal draft.  Will bring to next meeting (Pamela will distribute in advance).

Suggestion:   frame “discharge policy” as institutional admission policy, i.e., broad principles that everyone agrees on, e.g., universal check-list for shelter consideration, then check with each individual shelters for their particular limitations/criteria

Providers will exchange by email list of institutions to call – including hospitals, nursing homes, prisons, dual diagnosis, substance abuse programs .  Will do initial “focus group” calls to select institutions to gauge interest  in a regionwide meeting on this issue as follows:

Jerry:  Mass. Behavioral Health Partnership
Christine:  Arbor House, Providence Detox, Ben Clough (DPH)
Danielle:  Cooley Dickinson Hospital (West Five)
Yolanda:  Carlson Recovery Center (detox), Heritage Hall, BayState
Dave Havens:  BayState psych unit
Mark Warren: Berkshire Medical Center, pysch unit

The group acknowledged the importance of communication among shelters to ensure beds are utilized.  We will take up at our next meeting more systematic ways to ensure this communication takes place.

The group also acknowledged and discussed the issues that stem from a lack of a common admission standard, e.g., some dry shelters, wet shelters, will turn away or not.  Friends of the Homeless is in a unique position as the one shelter that does not turn anybody away for lack of space or for sobriety issues.  This places a burden on the shelter that needs to be addressed by all.  Discussion on the issue of common admission standards will also continue at our next meeting.

Right now, Friends of the Homeless is functioning at 20 people over capacity – crisis level in summer!

Question posed as to whether it’s possible to track numbers on a weekly basis to analyze population flow and also to keep close track of shelter openings across the region.

Suzanne posed the use of the DHCD bed register to help track openings but this would require a change in practice for providers since the custom is to get on the phone when someone is standing at the door, bed register is not used.  This circles back to the communication challenge across shelters, which we will continue to address.

Network future: Pamela gave an update about the continuation of the Network and its committees, sharing the Leadership Council’s commitment to sustain the work that is happening.  Committee members expressed their desire to see this committee work continue and the great value in building more unity and collaboration among all shelter and individual service providers across the region.

ICHH REACH provider and contract extension discussion

ICHH providers discussed and agreed upon the terms for a request for a 6 month contract extension.  The need for a contract extension stems from a combination of factors:  a delay in the contract start-up due to administrative processes between the fiscal agent, DHCD and sub-grantees; some staff turnover and some unanticipated challenges in housing unit readiness.  The Committee agreed on the following terms:

Mental Health Association ($77,000): will house 6 additional chronically homeless individuals with transitional rental subsidies and accompanying support services (6 above its current benchmark, which has already been met)

ServiceNet: ( $21,000) – will house at least 3 chronically homeless individuals with transitional rent subsidies and provide accompanying support services (will meet benchmark with this plan)

Brien Center ($14,300) – will house up to 2 chronically homeless individuals with transitional rent subsidies and provide accompanying support services (will exceed benchmark by 1 individual with this plan)

In each of these extensions, each provider commits to facilitating a transition to permanent housing and facilitating the continuation of support services after the extension ends.

With these extensions, the Network will exceed its benchmark of housing 38 chronically homeless individuals in the region.

Dave Modzelewski will continue to work with the Carson Center to advocate for appropriate housing with Domus and its new Annex housing in ongoing efforts to meet its benchmark.

Center for Human Development confirmed that all of its funds have been spent and they will have exceeded their benchmark by 1 or 2 individuals.

Pamela will put this request into a formal  letter to be submitted to Liz Curtis.  Draft will circulate to providers by Thursday and to Steering Committee as well. Will be sent to Liz by Friday, 8/6.

Next meeting:  Monday, September 13, 9-11 am, Berkshire County, location to be determined