Youth Count Preparations Underway – Please help!

The MA Special Commission on Unaccompanied Homeless Youth is sponsoring its second annual statewide youth count the week of January 28, 2015.  The Western region participated in last year’s first count and did a remarkable job in a very short period of time (click here for the 2014 MA Youth Count Report).

This year, we are getting an earlier start and determined to do an even better job in locating and learning from our communities’ unaccompanied homeless youth.  The count also includes a youth survey that will be distributed beginning 1/29/15 through 2/3/15 (this is timed in coordination with the annual HUD mandated Point in Time Count which will take place on January 28).

If your organization engages with youth, we need you!  Please support the effort by reaching out to our CoC coordinators who will provide additional information about the youth surveys, outreach events and the hiring of “youth ambassadors” to support youth engagement:

Hampden County CoC: Lizzy Ortiz,, 413-787-6500
Three County CoC: Teri Rutherford,, 413-296-4536 ext. 110

The information collected in this count and survey is critical to our advocacy and fundraising efforts to better meet the needs of our unaccompanied homeless youth population.  Thank you for your support!

Learning Session on Housing People with Sex Offense Histories

On Wednesday, November 12, The Work Group to House People with Sex Offense Histories brought together Western MA housing providers – HAPHousing, Home City Housing, SMOC and Valley CDC – to share information and experience on housing this population.  We were joined by Fred Smith, former program director of St. Francis House in Boston, a renowned program for successful housing of sex offenders, who shared his extensive experience and inspiration around both the individuals’ successes as tenants and the community’s acceptance of the program.
The Committee proposed to our housing partners to consider a review of their policies that would move away from an absolute ban on housing sex offenders and instead adopt a case-by-case approach that would be governed by narrowly defined criteria.  Please click here to obtain the proposed criteria.
The Network deeply appreciates our housing partners’ time and attention to this difficult issue.    Our shared goals are to protect public safety and promote safe, affordable housing for the population in need.  We all acknowledged the challenge housing providers frequently face in creating more affordable housing for low-income people and how housing individuals with sex offense histories may add to the challenge.  We agreed that while the Network pursues case-by-case consideration among housing providers, we will work together to advocate for state policy change that is data-driven and supports safer communities.

New resources/directories available for elders, substance abuse; ICHH report

Below is an update on recently released reports and resources:

MHSA just released its Resource Guide for Older Homeless and Low-income Adults.  You can access it at the top of the Resources page on the MHSA website, here: or the direct link to download the PDF is here:

The MA Department of Public Health released its updated Western Mass. Substance Abuse Treatment and Prevention Services Directory.  Please click here for a copy.

The MA Interagency Council on Housing and Homelessness recently released a report documenting key initiatives in preventing and ending homelessness from 2007-2014. This report was produced in order to provide an overview of the most significant efforts undertaken by the ICHH and its member agencies during the last 8 years.  You can find the report here.

Also, Liz Rogers, formerly executive director of the ICHH, shared this announcement regarding her new position at DHCD.  On behalf of the Network, we thank LIz for her extraordinary support of our Network during her tenure at ICHH.  We look forward to continuing our partnership with Liz in her new role at DHCD.

From Liz Rogers:
I know that many of you are also aware that I have transitioned into a new position at DHCD. For those of you who haven’t heard, I am now the Housing Stabilization Special Initiatives Manager and will be overseeing policy and programming related to homeless individuals and other special populations. I’m excited that this opportunity will allow me to incorporate these priorities more directly into the Division of Housing Stabilization and to continue work to support veterans, chronically homeless individuals, youth, survivors of domestic violence, and older adults. I will continue to facilitate the ICHH through December. Our chair, Undersecretary Aaron Gornstein, will work with the next Administration to identify their priorities for the ICHH. I’m looking forward to working with each of you in my new capacity for DHCD.




Individual Services Meeting Minutes – 11/6/14

Individual Services Meeting
November 6, 2014

In attendance: Elizabeth Bienz, ServiceNet, Eneroliza Cardena, HRU, Ben Cluff, DPH, Steve Connor, Veterans Services, Darlene Ducott, HRU, Lakita Flintroy, HRU, Janice Humason, Friends of the Homeless, Nicole King, Friends of the Homeless, Todd Konlezhny, HRU, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Sarah Lopes, Friends of the Homeless, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Kate Miernecki, ServiceNet, Bill Miller, Friends of the Homeless, Dave Modzelewski, Network, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Claudia Phillips, Mercy Medical Health Care for the Homeless, Jerry Ray, Mental Health Association, Denise Rivera, Friends of the Homeless, Laura Saponare, Catholic Charities, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Lynn White, HRU, Rebekah Wilder, Craig’s Doors, Delphine Wray, Friends of the Homeless

Hampden County CoC Update (Gerry McCafferty)

Funding update

HUD application submitted for grants starting 2015. 2 programs did not submit renewals – Samaritan Inn Transitional Housing Program and Loreto House. Loreto House is seeking alternate funds to continue its model. Jay Levy reports that Samaritan Inn has said that it has saved funds to operate at least another year. Both programs will receive CoC funds through August 2015.

Two programs under this new funding cycle will convert to permanent supportive housing (PSH) – Annie’s house (for chronically homeless women) and Safe Havens. 3 new programs: 5 new PSH units at HRU; CHD (via HUD’s “bonus project) will provide PSH for 8 chronically homeless families; Catholic Charities will provide Rapid Rehousing (RRH) funds for homeless families who are not EA eligible. These new grants will likely start in Spring 2015. Also just starting up from last application round – 8 units of PSH for families at VOC and HAP RRH funds for EA eligible families (to give these families a longer subsidy to sustain housing).

Next grant cycle will most likely be Spring 2015. It is very possible that Hampden County’s available pool of funds will increase as much as $1 million (to meet the “pro rata” need since the Springfield CoC expanded to include all of Hampden County). This could be an excellent opportunity to apply for new programs. Given HUD’s priorities, it is very likely they will fund PSH for chronically homeless individuals and RRH for homeless families. In view of HUD’s requirements for matching funds, Gerry encourages agencies interested in starting programs to begin planning now, and especially to start thinking about potential match and leverage sources.


We checked in on how the VI-SPDAT was going in its current practice. Friends of the Homeless did not have raw numbers immediately available but reported that they are using the VI-SPDAT and in general the scores are reflecting the perceived vulnerability of the individuals.

FOH is doing an amazing job of integrating the VI-SPDAT in their shelter. A big shout out to all the staff for their hard work on this!

Jerry Ray of MHA reported that they are beginning to use VI-SPDAT when units turn over. He noted that the information on the VI-SPDAT is somewhat limited to the extent it relies on the reporting by the client, as opposed to information from providers who have engaged with the client (the latter has tended to provide better quality information).

Working with Springfield Housing Authority on the VI-SPDAT is in process. Gerry suggests that we focus on other implementation points and learning more before focusing on implementation by SHA (in view of its size and what is involved in changing policies and approaches at SHA). At this point, when an individual comes to the top of the SHA list and SHA contacts Lizzy Ortiz (City of Springfield), Lizzy in turn can contact Bill of FOH to obtain a copy of the completed VI-SPDAT, provided there is a signed consent for release of information. We need to connect the VI-SPDAT dots with SHA over time (but they are not CoC funded so cannot require them to do so – therefore need to move more slowly).

Kate Miernecki of ServiceNet reported that ServiceNet has begun piloting VI-SPDAT as of 12/1.

Gerry reported that DHCD has decided to do a pilot of VI-SPDAT for homeless families in Western Mass. Excellent progress!

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