Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes – 12/1/17

Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes – 12/1/17
In attendance: Beth Barbra, Veterans, Inc., Steve Connor, Central Hampshire Veterans Services, Pat DiGregorio, Veterans Inc., Keegan Hersey, Veterans Inc., Nikki Riello, Hilltown Community Development Corp (Three County CoC), Kate Sweetster-Owens, Ali Wilson-Pierce, HUD/VASH.
Hampden County CoC Update:  The CoC is rolling out its new online system that supports coordinated entry. Kate, Katherine and Barb have all been trained on it and are finding it easy to use; they see it as an extremely useful tool for gaining quick info on a veteran’s priority status and for understanding the most appropriate next steps to assist a veteran.  The system also provides real-time data on veterans in the family shelter system, which the CoC has never had before. This will make it easier to make sure those veteran households are connecting to veteran services soon after shelter entry.
Hampden CoC  veteran numbers continue to be low, but it is challenged by some very difficult cases, which don’t have clear paths to resolution.
Three County CoC Update: Nikki provided an update.  They are working with Sue White of the VA to get HUD/VASH updates into the overall tracking system (to keep track of who has been housed).  The current count is at 13 homeless veterans (outside of Soldier On’s system where there are a  couple hundred).   The 3 county veterans committee is continuing to meet monthly to review its by-name list.  Housing placements are happening.
Soldier On housing: The prioritization process is still being worked out between Soldier On and HUD/VASH for the new Agawam housing: Soldier On runs by a first-come, first-serve in terms of processing its applications; the VA is hoping to allocate the units based on priority need.  Conversations are underway to come to a  resolution.  There are currently roughly 20 units left in Agawam.
Responding to Puerto Rican veterans: The group discussed the complexities arising from the arrival of PR veterans in the Springfield area. The usual prioritization system does not apply and there is hope that some accommodation will be made so that these special circumstances can be taken into account, e.g., “over-assets” by virtue of owning property in PR but the property is not habitable.  Discussions with the VA are underway but it is unclear who is in a decision making position. It was recommended to contact the Holyoke VSO office (Jesus) with questions regarding PR veterans.
Statewide Update: Steve noted that at a previous meeting it was said that the Central/West region had 72 unused HUD VASH vouchers.  This was confusing and did not comport with the West’s sense of the numbers.  One theory was that this number was coming from the Worcester area.  It was also noted that HUD/VASH positions are not being filled in both Worcester and Springfield, which adds to a slow-down in the allocation process.
Network Update:  Pamela reported the good news that thanks to DHCD, the Network will be funded to continue its work through at least FY18.  The Leadership Council will still use this opportunity to retain a consultant to explore with Network partners how the Network can best meet the region’s needs in the years ahead.  Stay tuned for more on that in the new year.
Announcements: 
  • Chapin Mansion is looking for a live-in house manager – a great opportunity for a qualified veteran
  • Hampden County got 8 new HUD/VASH vouchers – good news
Next meeting: Friday, January 26, 9 am-10:30 am, Northampton Senior Center 

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