Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting Minutes –

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee
November 9, 2016

In attendance: Katrina Colon, STCC, Courtnee Godbolt, Friends of the Homeless, Lisa Goldsmith, DIAL/SELF, Natalie Hill, Gandara Center, Natalie Kyles, Gandara Center, Ann Lentini, Domus, Inc., John Lewis, Shannon Grant, STCC, Kim Majewski, Gandara Center, Heather Murphy, Gandara Center, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Kristin Peterson, YWCA, Jean Rogers, CHD, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Sarah Tanner, Friends of the Homeless, Jennifer Wands, Springfield Public Schools, Delphine Wray, Friends of the Homeless, Rhonda Young, CHD

Follow-up from last meeting with Shannon/SSYI partners:

  1. Sharing of vulnerability assessment tools: Pamela will launch an email conversation with John Lewis, Kim Majewski, Lisa Goldsmith, Jean Rogers and Rhonda Young and Sarah Tanner to clarify what would be most useful and who is providing.
  2. Youth engagement training: it was clarified that it would be useful to provide more information to both youth and non-youth providers about how to best engage with youth, how to ascertain homelessness, what is needed for documentation for services, etc. Pamela will launch an email conversation with Gandara, DIAL/SELF and CHD about how best to move forward with this item, including determining regional or sub-regional approach to trainings.

Annual Point in Time Count: Gerry raised the annual PIT count that will take place on 1/25/17. HUD is asking CoC’s to make a concerted effort to identify homeless youth. This requires a targeted effort to reach unsheltered youth. One strategy offered in a National Alliance to End Homelessness webinar is to identify youth prior to the count itself. They urge using “youth ambassadors” to reach out to other youth. Gerry will seek funding to engage these youth ambassadors. Gerry will call a sub-committee of Hampden County that includes Gandara, CHD, Shannon/SSYI providers and ROCA.amp H

Rebecca Muller noted that in her focus groups (convened to help inform the HUD grant application) she learned about youth “squatting” in apartments that often entailed neglectful/abusive situations. She also noted that feedback from young people included a sensitivity to being “paid to fill out a survey” and then receiving nothing more of what they actually needed. All affirmed taking concrete steps to prevent that experience

The Three County CoCis also convening a sub-group to plan for the Point in Time Count. Lisa will bring input from this committee to that conversation.

Youth Advisory Committee update:

In the contest of the focus groups Rebecca and others are conducting, youth are being asked to complete a short survey for feedback. This survey includes outreach around participating in a youth advisory committee. At least 3 or 4 people have expressed interest. Rebecca will follow-up and will look to convene the first group in December. For DIAL/SELF, youth participation is integrated across all programs, although specific outreach for this advisory committee may also occur to allow for maximum dialogue. We agreed the goal is to bring an active youth voice and input into this committee’s work.

Lisa noted that the Special Commission has youth leaders who are willing to train other committees such as ours on how best to engage and involve youth in leadership. Lisa will follow-up to explore having these leaders come to our meeting to train us.

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Individual Services Meeting Minutes – 11/3/16

Individual Services Committee Meeting Minutes
November 3, 2016

In attendance: Nichole Bodiford, Friends of the Homeless, Steve Connor, Central Hampshire Veterans Services, Jennifer Genovese, MBHP, Courtnee Godbolt, Friends of the Homeless, Charlie Knight, Rainville, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Jade Lovett, Craig’s Doors, Kim Majewski, Gandara Center, Terry Maxey, SMOC/Open Door, Scott McAllister, Central Hampshire Veterans Services, Bill Miller, Friends of the Homeless, Dave Modzelewski, Nework REACH, Luz Ortiz, Friends of the Homeless, Denise Rivera, Friends of the Homeless, Christina Ruest, Friends of the Homeless, Joe Schroeter, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services,Pamela Schwartz, Network, Delphine Wray, Friends of the Homeless

Hampden County CoC Update:

REACH meetings are happening bi-monthly to do housing matches with the by-name list. The centralized intake system of HomeLink is underway (troubleshooting some challenges with technology). The use of the VI-SPDAT is being supplemented with a more in-depth look when needed, e.g., use of the secondary screening tool of the AZ Matrix. Flexibility to ensure most appropriate findings is part of the process.

Bill Miller reported on a conference he attended last week on the VI-SPDAT and related issues and affirmed this ongoing process of assessing and coordinating entry into housing. He noted that Hampden County is comparatively ahead of the curve in its system development; that our collaboration is exceptional. He also noted that the number of guests at Friends of the Homeless is lower on an annual basis (although still full daily). The by-name list, while not the single answer to ending homelessness, is proving to be a helpful tool. He also noted Gerry’s blog post on the VI-SPDAT – that while it is a helpful tool, it is only that in the context of a holistic approach, it is not the be-all-end-all to ending homelessness.

Joe Schroeter of Eliot Services noted that the ultimate challenge is finding housing for these individuals; that there is a lack of affordable housing available. Various ideas were thrown out, including contacting or presenting at meetings of the MA Landlords Association, reaching out to faith based communities, honor landlords who have been real partners in this effort, prospect of more project based vouchers through Springfield Housing Authority. It was also noted that Springfield currently has a disproportionate amount of affordable housing relative to surrounding communities and we need to persuade other cities and towns to participate in this effort.

It was agreed that we could follow-up as a sub-group to focus on this issue in more depth. Pamela will put a call out to plan a meeting on this topic (it was suggested to include John Fisher of HAP in the outreach).

Three County CoC Update:

Jay Levy reported that the AZ Matrix tool is continuing to be piloted, primarily by ServiceNet and Soldier On. Also outreach has occurred with Craig’s Doors. The feedback is positive so far but they will be looking for a more official review process shortly.

Jade Lovett reported on Craig’s Doors Seasonal Emergency Shelter opened 2 nights ago. Capacity is 22 beds. 16 men, 6 women. The women’s beds have been full the first two nights (overflow to Northampton cot shelter).

There is an ongoing conversation with the Town about increasing capacity to 34 beds. This is especially pressing in light of the fact that the Easthampton overflow site for the Northampton cot shelter is not available this year due to transportation challenges (none is available from Northampton cot shelter; formerly provided by Soldier On by volunteers but due to shift in population housed at SoldierOn, this capacity no longer exists). Dave Christopolis is writing s support letter to the Town for this expansion on behalf of the Three County CoC.

Jade noted that Craig’s Doors funding for FY17 is still unsecured due to its earmark being held until the Governor releases his decisions on 9C cuts. This is consistent with all earmarks statewide (including the Network’s funding).

Northampton cot shelter also opened on 11/1. Still has capacity (6 beds under).

Note on Friends of the Homeless capacity: shelter is full. Taylor Street seasonal shelter opened but that has had no discernible impact on FOH capacity (same).

Critical Response Team Update:

Dave M shared that the CRT meets through the REACH meetings, tackling hard-to-house/serve individuals who may require “out of the box,” cross-agency problem solving. Please here and here for forms related to CRT submission and assistance.

Dave noted the police/provider convening in Hampden County that has been very helpful in addressing some of the harder-to-serve individuals, bringing in veterans services, mental health, health care and housing providers to trouble shoot resolutions.

Collective Impact Conference Update:

Pamela presented a summary of lessons learned from the Collective Impact Conference in mid-October. Please click here for the attached Powerpoint for more information. The group agreed to discuss the principles of collective impact at our next meeting and how they relate to the individual services committee, specifically what brings people to the table, and how best the Network can support partners’ goals.

Next meeting: Thursday, Dec. 8, 9:30-11 am, Northampton Senior Center (note: not meeting on usual 1st Thursday due to conflict).

Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes – 10/28/16

Veterans Committee
October 28, 2016

In attendance: Beth Barbra, Veterans Inc., Steve Connor, Hampshire County Veterans Services, Anthia Elliott, Safe Passage, Lillian Gray, Springfield Partners for Community Action, Jim Mahoney, Holyoke Veterans Services, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Katherine Person, Veterans Inc., Denise Rivera, Friends of the Homeless, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Kate Sweetster-Owens, HUD VASH, Lynne Marie Wannamaker, Safe Passage, Sabrina Willard, Soldier On

Confidentiality Mini-Training

Special thanks to Lynn Marie Wanamaker and Anthia Elliot of Safe Passage for providing this important training on confidentiality, especially as it pertains to domestic violence victims (flowing from an accidental release through a Network email list of too much information in the context of a housing search). Please click herematerials for a breakdown of the basic concepts covered.

The group acknowledged the tension of wanting to provide relevant information (e.g., geographical location, family size) in search of a housing solution but affirmed the critical importance (as well as legality) of protecting all identifying information. This is especially vital when domestic abuse is involved.

The training confirmed the following principles and protocol:

  • No identifying information should ever be sent out over email. This is especially critical for the Network as it communicates with hundreds of people on various email lists. The group email list should never be used to problem solve individual housing crises. Please feel free to email Pamela individually, without identifying information, regarding a request for assistance and Pamela will assist in providing the appropriate referral.
  • The right to privacy belongs to each person; our responsibility is to protect that right.
  • Be as narrow as possible with any release of information; never use a release with a list of groups, always narrowly defining who is getting the info and what is being provided. Look very closely at how much information you need to provide the assistance sought.
  • The Violence Against Women Act sets out very clear parameters, e.g., only aggregate, non-personally identifying information may be released.
  • Safe Passage is available for phone calls for consultation around emergency housing issues. Please contact Anthia Elliott at 413-586-1125 or anthia@safepass.org or their 24/7 hotline: 413-586-3742

Outreach to VSO/correction officers
Pamela reported that she reached out to VSO officers in Greenfield, Ludlow and Chicopee and all expressed an interest to be connected via the email list (none could make today’s meeting). Sabrina reported on Sarah Palidore’s behalf re: outreach to correctional facility in the Berkshires: those connections are made through Soldier On and the Justice Partnership (a collaboration that includes the DA, probation, VSO and Soldier On). Lillian Gray of Springfield Partners reported her outreach in the Veterans Court in Holyoke and her relationship with correctional officers in Chicopee and Ludlow. Beth Barbra reported on her relationship with Ludlow and that communications take place about veterans.

Steve reported on the state/federal collaboration that involves the VA and Dept. of Corrections which includes “scrubbing” all people in the system to determine who are veterans and if VA health eligible or not. If not, the goal is to refer them to the SAVE team. Release issues are still being resolved. The Hampden County Roundtable which meets monthly is considered a model for the state – includes VSO, re-entry staff and others to discuss release of people and funnels people with VA history to appropriate support. There is a statewide meeting later in November that will further develop this system of communication and Steve will report back at our next meeting.

Steve also reported on the increased training of probation officers to create referral process if veteran parolee. As a result, referrals to VSOs have increased markedly. Focus is now shifting to communities with low referral rates, which includes Springfield.

Hampden County CoC update:
Gerry reported on the use of the by-name list. Currently there are 21 veterans on the list; 8 have housing plans. Monthly meetings are being used to review everyone’s VHA eligibility status and searching out resources, e.g., SSVF, for those who are not eligible. Cass Street is now a good resource for housing non-VHA eligible veterans.

Three County CoC Update:
Steve reported on the 3 County CoC training for veteran outreach that took place on 10/21. A successful turn-out (approx.. 30 in Northampton; 12 in Pittsfield), including library and housing staff.

Gerry will look into holding a similar training for Hampden County in Holyoke.

Next meeting date: due to Thanksgiving/winter holidays, we will merge the Nov and December meeting into one: Friday, 12/9, 9-10:30 am, Northampton Senior Center

Leadership Council Meeting Minutes – 10/26/16

Leadership Council Meeting
October 26, 2016

In attendance: Father Stan Aksamit, Our Lady of Peace Church, Paul Bailey, Springfield Partners for Community Action, Dave Christopolis, Three County Coc/Hilltown CDC, Ken Demers, BerkshireWorks, Jenna Day, Franklin County Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority, Rose Evans, DHCD, Sue Fortin, DMH, Lisa Goldsmith, DIAL/SELF, Mike Hagmaier, Soldier On, Jen Hohn, City of North Adams, Nat Karns, Berkshire Community Development Corporation, Peg Keller, City of Northampton, Jennifer Kinsman, United Way of Pioneer Valley, Charlie Knight, Rainville/former consumer, Joanne LaCour, DTA, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield/Hampden County CoC, Andrew Morehouse, Food Bank of Western MA, George Ryan, Hanpden County Regional Employment Board, Jay Sacchetti, ServiceNet, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Jim Seney, VAMC,   Sarah Tanner, Friends of the Homeless, Lauren Voyer, HAPHousing, Jennifer Wuest, Behavioral Health Network

Leadership Council Meeting Minutes of 8/3/16:
Motion to approve: Charlie Knight
Seconded: Nat Karns
Approval: Unanimous

Collective Impact Conference Report: Pamela attended a 3 day conference in San Antonio, TX from October 17-20 sponsored by the Collective Impact Forum (http://collectiveimpactforum.org). Click here for the Powerpoint summary of lessons learned. Pamela shared that she was inspired by the framework of Collective Impact and invited the Network to look deeper into what it would mean for the Network to explore this approach. All agreed that that possibility, including the potential allocation of training dollars, would be further discussed at the Steering Committee.

Network to End Homelessness Progress Report:  Click here for the Powerpoint summary data update. Gerry and Dave provided an update on the progress with each population – families, chronically homeless, youth and veterans. Additional comments included:

  • Soldier On has moved many veterans into new veteran housing in Northampton and Chicopee. The Point in Time Count in the 3 County region will go down significantly this year (currently 144 Soldier On beds are occupied out of 266).
  • The advance of using By Name Lists has closed off gaps, preventing more people from slipping through the cracks.
  • Deputy Undersecretary Rose Evans offered TA on the challenges related to releases of information; Gerry also suggested bringing this state level support to the next statewide CoC meeting
  • Gerry provided an update on the Hampden County CoC’s application to HUD for a Youth Homelessness Demonstration Project. This is a highly competitive process – 10 awards nationwide; Boston and Worcester are also applying – that would provide between $1m and $15m for 3 years (then subject to renewal) to support innovative programs to address youth homelessness. The Network Youth Committee is supporting this process (with the 3 County CoC, which did not have the capacity to apply for this particular grant). Decisions on pilot projects for the initial planning period (6 months of TA from HUD) will occur in early 2017.

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