Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes – 11/20/15

Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes
November 20, 2015

In attendance: Beth Barbra, Veterans Inc, Donna Bryant, Springfield Partners, Ben Cluff, DPH, Steve Connor, Veterans Services, Tony Forzgalia, Veterans Inc., Mike Hagmaier, SoldierOn, Scott Haskell, Turner House, Gerry McCafferty, Springfield Housing, Wilfredo Melendez, Holyoke Veterans Services, Lizzy Ortiz, Springfield Housing, Katherine Persons, Veterans Inc, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Katelyn Sweetser-Owens, VA, Sue White, VAMC, Sabrina Willard, Springfield Partners
Hampden County Report

The CoC is running reports every 2 weeks in HMIS to track homeless veterans who are in the system. Currently there are 2 veterans in individual shelter, 1 veteran family in shelter, two veterans on the street, one of whom has been contacted by outreach staff. The Springfield Police Dept. collaboration continues to be useful.

On the agenda is developing similar police/service provider outreach collaborations in other large cities in Hampden County, e.g., Holyoke and Westfield. Gerry will do a larger HMIS check that includes family shelters across the county and is in conversation with Jim Mahoney of Holyoke Veterans Services to build outreach and data on Holyoke veteran population (without an individual shelter, there will clearly be very few).

While the county is at “functional zero” – housing veterans at a rate greater than the number who are homeless – Gerry is not interested in declaring the “end of veteran homelessness” while actively working to house homeless veterans. The upcoming PIT count in January may be well-timed to announce mission accomplished, but that will remain to be seen.

Three County Report

The 3 County CoC has retained a consultant from TAC (Technical Assistance Collaborative) to help develop strategies on ending veteran homelessness in the 3 County region.   They will devise this plan over the coming month and implement between January and June.

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Family Services Committee Meeting Minutes – 11/17/15

Family Services Committee Meeting Minutes
November 17, 2015

 In attendance: Jane Banks, CHD, Yoshi Bird, CHD, Sarah Cloutier, YWCA, Hillary Cronin, VA Medical Center, Anthia Elliott, Safe Passage, Sean Hemingway, CHD, Faith Lafayette, FOR Families, Fran LeMay, ServiceNet – Greenfield Family Inn, Jane Lindfors, DTA-DV unit, Heather Marshall, Elizabeth Freeman Center, Sherondia McKenzie Elliott, DTA/DV, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Jordana O’Connell, CHD, Vanessa Otero, NEFWC, Jenni Pothier, TPP, Stephen Plummer, Partners for Community Action, Evelyn Rivera, WomanShelter, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Taijhia Steel, Springfield Partners, Rachel Trant, DCF, Luz Vega, Woman Shelter, Lauren Voyer, HAPHousing

Family Homelessness and Domestic Violence

Special thanks to Sarah Cloutier, Anthia Elliott, Jane Lindfors and Heather Marshall for leading us in this discussion to better understand the intersection of DV with family homelessness and how the Network can address it.

The Population: Heather shared that according to DHCD data domestic violence comprises 13% of the current EA population’s “reason for becoming homeless.” All DV providers agreed that this number is vastly underestimated. Many DV victims may have a more immediate reason for homelessness – e.g., couch surfing – that is recorded when DV is the underlying reason. Heather shared national data that indicated that between 22% and 50% of homeless women report that DV is reason.

We agreed we needed to reach out to DHCD to learn about possible ways to enhance data collection around this population.

Jane shared data from the DTA DV unit that showed that in Western MA, of the 4,581 people spoken to about DV, 2,728 reported that homelessness or housing was their biggest issue.

Current Barriers:

  • No DHCD staff in Berkshire, Franklin or Hampshire Counties. The only way to process an EA application is via phone at the DTA offices. This creates a significant barrier for DV victims in a state of trauma (as well as all homeless families).   The only place to go in person is at the State Street office in Springfield. The number to call for remote access is 413-627-4462.
  • The only way for a DV shelter family to move to EA shelter is by being terminated from the DV program and having to newly apply for EA. This requires families to become homeless to get served. In addition to this illogic, it impacts DV shelter availability since families who may not be an imminent risk of domestic violence may stay longer because their alternative is homelessness.

[Note: HAPHousing announced it has Rapid Rehousing funds available for non-EA eligible families which could serve this population in Hampden County. All funds must be expended by the end of January. Contact HAP for more information.]

  • Housing authority regulations changed several years ago to require far more stringent documentation to obtain a DV housing preference, e.g., police report, restraining order, all things that may be very difficult to obtain if the victim fled her community
  • Limited DV rehousing funds. DCF provides DV shelters with $10K per year for housing stabilization funds. Maximum distributions are $1,000 per person. This amount makes it very difficult to afford an apartment with first, last and security deposit. The 10K total is almost entirely spent by all DV shelters in the region with more than half the fiscal year remaining.

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Springfield/Hampden County CoC FY15 Application

The Springfield/Hampden County CoC FY15 Application is available for public review. There are two parts to the application, which are available here:

The Springfield/Hampden County CoC will meet this Thursday November 19, 2015, at 9:15 a.m. at the Mental Health Association, 995 Worthington St., Springfield, for a final review and approval of the application.

Thanks to everyone who worked so hard to put this together!