Individual Services Meeting Minutes – 9/14/17

Individual Services Meeting Minutes
September 14, 2017

In attendance: Jesus Arce, City of Springfield, Nichole Bodiford, FOH Steve Connor, Central Hampshire Veterans Services, David Havens, MHA, Sarh Hills, Eliot CHS, Janice Humason, FOH Charlie Knight, Rainville, Todd Koniezhny, Next Step, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS, Sara Lopes, FOH, Jenifer Lucca, Samaratin Inn, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Bill Miller, FOH, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Digno Ortiz, FOH, Keith Rhone, FOH, Denise Rivera, FOH, Christine Ruest, FOH, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Julie Strothman, Green River Software Firm, Stephanie Tonelli, FOH, Rachel Weiss, Craig’s Doors, Lynn White, Viability Inc

Built for Zero Campaign: Gerry McCafferty reviewed the Hampden County CoC’s particiationi in the Built for Zero Campaign (with Community Solutions) to refine systems and improve outcomes in ending chronic homelessness.  The year long effort includes 4 conferences with other CoCs. There was one in April and another is upcoming in Denver in late September.

As part of this effort, out of the last meeting in April, the group produced the Chronic Storyboard with its goals, measures and strategies.  The goal was to reduce the number of chronically homeless people by 47% by the end of August.  There was a 20% reduction.  While short of goal, this is still an excellent accomplishment.

In reviewing the various elements, there has been a mix of progress and the need to revisit strategies and barriers.  Some goals need to be more long-term than anticipated.  The trend on chronic homelessness placements is positive with 44 chronically homeless individuals housed since January.

One important data finding is that between April-September 2017, 48% of the newly identified chronically homeless “aged in” to that status (click here ). This points up the priority of prevention efforts in order to avoid chronic homelessness.

Another significant finding is that 39% of those identified over this same time period were unsheltered.  The question here is whether there is an increase in the unsheltered population or improvement in the identification and assessment systems.  The feedback from the group indicated that while there may be some increase, the training around the assessment process is proving effective and better identifying those that should be identified.

Looking at new strategies going forward, questions to answer include: how do we make housing occupancy move faster when housing units are not being filled quickly? How we do we create more units? How do we identify who is on the verge of entering the chronic homelessness system and prevent it?

Gerry shared a draft Prioritization and Referral Rules for establishing clear guidelines for prioritizing placement in available units.  The application of these rules will take place in the context of a new database called Green River, which will replace Home Link (which is ending as of the end of September).  This system will allow for information to be drawn from HMIS and will facilitate easy identification of chronic homelessness status.  The group unanimously approved these Prioritization and Referral Rules.  

Shelter updates:

The Rescue Mission (Taylor St) opens on 10/2.  This will hopefully provide a welcome relief to the demand at Friends of the Homeless.

FOH is averaging 160 people/night.  This is extremely high for this time of year.  There was some discussion about whether this is partly driven by recent “sweeps” of buildings where people were sleeping in open spaces and stairwells.

Craig’s Doors in Amherst will open on 11/1.  They are gearing up with hires in place.  They also now have their Resource Center which will offer day time support to residents.

Grove Street (via email from Sam Cunningham of ServiceNet):  Grove Street is full and the waiting list is very long.  They are now hiring for the Interfaith Winter Shelter!  People can apply via ServiceNet’s website or call direct and they can direct.

Samaratin Inn – 4 short of full on funded beds.  They have seen a doubling of people in alcohol or drug recovery, the opioid epidemic coming home.

Holyoke meeting: Gerry McCafferty attended a meeting in Holyoke to discuss panhandling.  There was recognition by Holyoke leaders that emergency shelter located in the community could be helpful in addressing their challenges.  Gerry encouraged shelter providers to reach out to Holyoke to support this conversation and need for an emergency response system in Holyoke.

Network funding: Pamela announced that Network continuity is at risk in view of the Governor’s veto of funding in FY18.  While overrides are being considered now, one is unlikely for the Network. There are currently 2.5 months remaining in funding.  The Network Leadership Council is aware of the situation and while appeals for partner support are going out, suggested that it is time for Committees to take stock of this possibility and start to consider whether they would like to continue with the committee and brainstorm volunteer management.  Pamela urged people to bring this possibility back to their management for possible discussion.  She will report back on any funding news at the next meeting in October.

Next meeting:

Thursday, October 5
10:30 am- noon (note later hour in Northampton due to a conflict)
Northampton Senior Center