Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes – April 4, 2018
In attendance: Grechar Aquino, Friends of the Homeless, Beth Barbra, Veterans Inc., Nichole Bodiford, Friends of the Homeless, Nicole Darden, Mass SAVE program, Janice Humason, Friends of the Homeless, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Katherine Person, Veterans Inc., Denise Rivera, Friends of the Homeless, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Dennis Sheehan, Friends of the Homeless, Dennis Sheehan, Friends of the Homeless, Kate Sweetster-Owens, HUD-VASH, Stephanie Tonelli, Friends of the Homeless
Federal Budget Update
Congress passed a budget that allocated an overall 10% increase to the HUD budget, including a 5% increase to homelessness programs. This is positive news! We did not have clarity around where the funding was at for VASH although Steve was at least certain that it was not cut.
State Commission on Veteran Homelessness Update
Steve reported that the effort to connect state correctional facilities with veteran services (to identify veterans and provide support services in anticipation of discharge) continues with outreach and a presentation by the SAVE team, the veterans service office rand others at the Gardner penitentiary next week.
Update on VHA ineligible vouchers
Gerry reported on HUD-VASH’s authorization of 25 vouchers to be used in the region for VHA-ineligible veterans. 13 have been used by Soldier On. The remaining will be allocated between Hampden and Three County with support services by ServiceNet (3 county) and Behavioral Health Network (Hampden County). The vouchers are administered by Northampton Housing Authority; the executive director is away until next week. Upon her return, the relevant parties will meet to hopefully work out the support service agreements. Gerry is also reaching out to DHCD to hopefully obtain 8-10 MRVP vouchers for ineligible veterans.
This combination of HUD VASH and MRVP for VHA ineligible veterans may provide the resources necessary to achieve the goal of “ending veteran homelessness” in Hampden County by the end of the summer per the definition by US ICH. It will take intensive focus on the individuals who newly enter the system; to obtain VI-SPDATs immediately and facilitate rehousing.
We discussed the HUD definition of “veteran” and confirmed that it is an adult who served active duty – the length of service or type of discharge does not matter if the person entered active duty (training is not sufficient).
Steve Connor also noted that Northampton is getting close to meeting the challenge of ending veteran homelessness.
Announcement: Springfield Partners is sponsoring its Veterans Resource Festival – Stars & Stripes Day ’18 – on Tuesday, May 1, 10:30 am – 2:30 pm, Tower Square Food Court, 1500 Main Street, Springfield.
Next meeting date: Wed., May 2, 2 pm, Friends of the Homeless