Veterans Committee Minutes – 4/4/18

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 

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting Minutes – 4/2/18

In attendance: Ellen Broadhurst, West Springfield Schools, Rebecca Chavierri, Holyoke Public Schools, Rosemary Fiedler, HCC, Lisa Goldsmith, DIAL/SELF, Sharon Hall-Smith, Gandara Center, Vicky Maleno, West Springfield Schools, Jose Lopez-Figueroa, STCC, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Rebecca Muller, Gandara Center, Juan Rivera, DYS – Holyoke District Office, Jean Rogers, CHD, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Jennifer Wand, Springfield Public Schools

State Point in Time Count

The Hampden County group planned for the youth count. Updates:

  • Magnet events – Community colleges – approved for count at STCC, plan to have 2 events—one lunchtime, one dinner time, April 25 and May 2, staffed by Gandara; Gerry has submitted IRB request at HCC, if approved will have one event at HCC either April 25 or May 2, staffed by Safety Zone.
  • Gandara will hold events at Dunbar and South End Community Center
  • High schools – Lots of brainstorming – McKinney Vento liaisons will go back to their schools to see what they can do; Safety Zone and Gandara will cover as many schools as they can
  • Shelters and community agencies – Gerry will get surveys and instructions out to emergency shelters and to partner community agencies (Roca, Boys & Girls Club, etc.).  Gerry will also connect with DCF and DYS
  • Incentives – we will provide gift cards again to those who complete surveys. We have some Dunkin Donuts cards from last year, but people recommended that we purchase Pride cards with this year’s funding.
  • Resource Cards – Gerry will send around for final review and edits and then send to the printer. These will be provided to all involved agencies.

The Three County CoC is also doing its outreach across its region with Lisa as the primary liaison.

Homelessness Resource Fair Youth Services Workshop Planning:

Pamela and Lisa reported out on the initial small group planning call.  It was agreed there that the workshop should include the components of, and specific tips for, working with youth/young adults in a housing crisis, youth/young adult resources in the region, and how youth/young adults fit into the coordinated entry process.

Some topics to be considered for inclusion: housing, mentoring, services, helping stabilize the life they have and make it better, Positive Youth Development, Trauma Informed Care, Harm Reduction, and encouraging them not to treat them like kids.

We agreed today that a small group would work on the coordination around content, hand-outs and facilitation.  Pamela will facilitate another small group meeting for this planning that will include Lisa, Sharon, Rebecca, Ann, Jean and Rhonda (DIAL/SELF, Gandara and CHD).

It was discussed whether the hand-out should include information on school liaisons.  Unclear if that is doable (for the entire region) but the small group will discuss more.

HUD Youth Grant Update:

Gerry reported that the work on this grant for a youth demonstration project continues (applied last year, very close but didn’t get it, in a better position to get it this year).  Due on April 12.

Next meeting date: Wed., 5/16, 1:30-3:00 pm – Frost Building, Room 309, HCC (scheduled for after the youth count; note Pamela will be out of town but it was agreed that others can facilitate)