Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes – 7/28/17

Veterans Committee Meeting
July 28, 2017
 
In attendance: Dan Boyea, Hampden County Sheriff’s Office, Ben Cluff, MA DPH, Keegan Hersey, Veterans Inc, Sue Moorman, HUD-VASH, Nikki Riello, Hilltown CDC, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Kate Sweetster-Owens, HUD-VASH, Sabrina Willard, Soldier On
 
Hampden County Housing Resource Referral Guide for Veterans:
Gerry asked the committee to review this housing resource form.
Feedback included:
  • VASH corrections: does not require active duty; can have dishonorable discharge if have a service connection; do not have to be disabled; only real bar is level 3 sex offender (life-time registry)
  • For Veterans Inc: disqualified if dishonorably discharged (unless service connected)
  • Explain acronyms (e.g., VISPDAT and everything else) – not user friendly to a typical case manager
  • Refers to entering into Homelink – presuming that is obsolete as system is about to change?
  • Add to VSO section: to find VSO’s from other communities go to http://www.mass.gov/veterans/utility/local-veterans-service-officers-3.html or more general info page – http://www.mass.gov/veterans/ – which leads you to VSO listing
Three County CoC Update
Nikki Riello reported from the 3 County CoC; she was recently hired by the 3 County CoC to manage the veterans chronic homelessness by-name lists.  She was referred to this meeting by the Jim Clark, the Pittsfield VSO.  She is happy to learn of the Network and the work going on with the Hampden County CoC.  Pamela will connect her with Gerry and referred her to their regular by-name list meetings to exchange information and approaches.
Nikki reported that there are currently 25 veterans on the by-name list (not including Soldier On; still working on connecting with them).  Nikki is meeting with providers to obtain relevant information and update the lists.
Nikki will reach out to Steve Connor to obtain the hand-out produced by the veterans committee last year that summarizes all veterans resources and the referral process so she can provide that to providers in her meetings.  We agreed the challenge is in continuing to educate both management and staff (especially in view of turnover) about conducting quick referrals to veterans services as soon as veteran status is identified. Ben will also reach out to Jay Sacchetti to encourage widespread distribution of this information among ServiceNet staff.
Hampden County Corrections Update
Dan Boyea reported that there are currently roughly 37 incarcerated veterans.  Katherine Person will check in with Steve about connecting with Chris Lizotte of West Springfield (head of the Western MA VSO’s) to obtain a letter from the VSO’s association to the jail requesting to be kept updated about veterans in the jail so they can reach out to them and support their re-entry and public safety.  This will facilitate information sharing.
New ServiceNet SAMHSA grant
ServiceNet received a new SAMHSA grant that will provide case management services for homeless individuals who also have mental health/substance use issues.  Veterans are a high priority.  Please click here for the referral form.  Erin Forbush is the contact at: eforbush@servicenet.org
New substance abuse services directory available
Ben Cluff advised us that an updated director is available.  Please click here.
VASH voucher update/available housing for VASH-ineligible vets
Sue Moorman reported that the VA is uncharacteristically out of HUD VASH vouchers because they have been allocated to Soldier On’s new Agawam housing (administered by the Northampton Housing Authority).  They are finding vouchers where possible through Way Finders if there is a change in circumstance.  Also, if families are involved, referring to SSVF.
Agawam is also accepting applications for VA ineligible veterans.  Contact Colin Flynn at cflynn@wesoldieron.org for more information.
FY18 State Budget Update:
Pamela reported on the current outcomes of the Governor’s vetoes, subject to legislative override (but still subject to the Governor’s 9C budget cuts in view of revenue shortfall) that will impact resources for veterans:
  • Elimination of Network earmark – $0 funding
  • Elimination of Berkshire Regional Housing Authority
  • Elimination of youth housing and services funding (serves 18-24 year olds)
  • Elimination of RAFT eligibility expansion (reducing RAFT from $15m to $13m) that would have made RAFT available to individuals
  • Elimination of New Lease program funding
  • Reduction in Housing Consumer Education funding
  • Reduction in Tenancy Preservation Program funding expansion that would have provided for “further upstream” eviction prevention
The legislature now has the opportunity to override the Governor’s vetoes which they will likely take up in September.  Please stay tuned for advocacy alerts.
Next meeting: Friday, September 8, 9:15 am – 10:30 am, Mental Health Association, Springfield (note it’s not our usual last Friday in August due to summer schedules).