Hampden County Individual Services Meeting Minutes – 9/25/18

Hampden County Individual Services Committee
September 25, 2018

In attendance:  Grechar Aquino, FOH/CSO, Jesus Arce, City of Springfield, Olivia Bernstein, MHA, Jennifer Bisceglia, Dept. of Correction, Nichole Bodiford, FOH/CSO, Ashley Brehm, Way Finders, Steve Connor, Veterans Services, John Fisher, Way Finders, Fina Fulla-Kay, City of Springfield, Dave Havens, Mental Health Association, Sarah Hills, Eliot CHS Homeless Services, Janice Humason, Friends of the Homeless/CSO, Charlie Knight, Rainville, Jen Lucca, Samaratin Inn, Bill Miller, FOH/CSO, Lizzy Ortiz, Mercy Medical, John Paglier, Mercy Medical Center, Christine Ruest, FOH/CSO, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Dennis Sheehan, FOH/CSO, Denise Rivera, FOH/CSO, Paul Thomas, Dept. of Correction, Stephanie Tonelli, FOH/CSO, Kathy West, Eliot-CHS, Lynn White, Viability, Delphine Wray, FOH/CSO

RAFT available for individuals: Ashley Brehm of Way Finders presented on RAFT prevention benefits that are available this fiscal year to individuals facing eviction. Please contact Ashley for more details about program eligibility, etc. at abrehm@wayfindersma.org.

Welcome to Jen Bisceglia and Paul Thomas of Reentry Service Division, MA Dept. of Correction: Jen and Paul attended to begin to establish more active relationships with Western MA providers as part of their housing search efforts for people being released from prison.  While there are no state prisons in Western MA, Springfield is the third highest release destination (behind Boston and Cambridge). We will continue to connect on our rapid rehousing efforts and other housing options in the area.

Built for Zero Update: Gerry reported that the next Learning Collaborative is mid-October.  Attendees will return with “action items” and at our next meeting the committee will discuss and brainstorm how to make progress.

The monthly report was distributed (click here). At the end of August, the by-name list was at 93 individuals. That is now creeping upwards (July was 85; a year ago this month it was 62).  Contributing factors: people are kept on the list longer now before being removed; more people living on the streets have been housed which has created an internal “referral” loop that has more people seeking housing. Good news is that housing has been identified for 20 of these 93  individuals so we can anticipate good “exit” data next month.

 

Holyoke partnerships continue to grow, including ongoing meetings with Holyoke housing providers, health care providers and the police department. The Holyoke Housing Authority has also agreed to set aside 10-15 Section 8 vouchers for chronically homeless individuals – this is a great advance!  The CoC has also funded an additional 6 housing units for chronically homeless people.

 

A committee work plan for FY19:

Per the Network Steering Committee’s request, this committee discussed developing a work plan for FY19, including broad goals and strategies.  We had an initial brainstorm, building off of the Built for Zero campaign that is currently underway.  We agreed we would focus on the items raised in this discussion at our next month’s meeting.

 

A recap of Build for Zero’s broader goals: 

  • increase number of housing placements for chronically homeless people
  • increase the speed at which they happen
  • decreasing the inflow into homelessness

The overarching pursuit: how do we get more resources and how do we use them better

 

One upcoming resource is another round of mainstream vouchers being made available to housing authorities in October and January.  How do we get as many housing authorities as possible to apply for these vouchers across the region, including Amherst and Greenfield. Steve Connor agreed to reach out to these housing authorities to advocate for their acquisition of these vouchers. Committee members also noted the critical importance of support services alongside these vouchers in order for the housing to work.

 

The non-chronic homeless population: members noted the need to focus on this population as well, to better identify who they are, their experience of homelessness and their needs to get and stay stable.  Employment and income needs are a crucial part of this conversation.

 

CoC – ESG standards:  Gerry noted that the CoC will be launching a process to re-examine its ESG standards. Stay tuned for more.

 

Network earmark update: The Steering Committee met and has a proposal into DHCD for its $125,000 earmark which will include the creation of a flexible fund for prevention and rapid re-housing across the region as well as substantial training opportunities for our providers. The flexible fund will also include the opportunity to pilot the use of landlord mitigation and incentive funds to create housing options for difficult-to-house tenants (modeled on best practices in other parts of the country).  The proposed budget and Scope of Services are being reviewed by DHCD now.

 

Network Legislative event:  The Steering Committee decided to host a legislative gathering on Friday, November 16, 1 pm – 3 pm, at Greenfield Community College (the Dining Commons) to meet the 5 new presumed legislators from the Upper Pioneer Valley (candidate Jo Comerford for State Senate, and for State Representative: Natalie Blais, Dan Carey, Mindy Domb and Lindsay Sabadosa).  If you are interested in attending, register here.

 

Next meeting date: Tuesday, October 23, 1 pm – 2 pm, followed by case conferencing til 2:30 pm.

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