Category Archives: Individual Services Committee

Individual Services Meeting Minutes – 12/7/17

Individual Services Meeting Committee Minutes
12/7/17
 
In attendance:  Rebecca Barowsky, Craig’s Doors, Sam Cunningham, Service Net, Interfaith Shelter, Jen Glover, Lifepath, Charlie Knight, Rainfille, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Jade Lovett, Craig’s Doors, Dave Modzelewski, REACH, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Rachel Weiss, Craig’s Doors, Lynn White, Viability, Chris Zabik, DMH
 
Hampden County CoC Update (via Gerry McCafferty email):
  • The CoC is rolling out and expanding its on-line coordinated entry data system. The developer is this week loading in the Youth and Family VISPDATs, so the system will soon be covering all populations. Individual and youth providers are meeting this Wed to talk about how these systems coordinate, and DV and single adult systems are meeting the following Wed.
  • The CoC will be gearing up for the Point in Time Count, schedule for the last Wed. in January.
  • The state is continuing to move forward with plans for a statewide data warehouse, which would offer an excellent resource for understanding the homeless population across CoC lines and tracking progress.
Three County CoC Update (via Dave Christopolis email):
  • Coordinated entry will be launched in January, 2018.  The CE committee members are all going to participating agencies in person and training people. Case conferencing will begin weekly in each county facilitated by ServiceNet where people in the list will be reviewed based on vulnerability as well as a weekly vacancy report of COC units in order to try to find a housing match.  Three County CoC Board will be asked to vote to approve the CE policy and procedures at the Dec. board meeting.
  • Coordination for the Point in Time Count will take place over the next 6 weeks, coordinated by each county and their sub-regions.
Shelter Updates:
 
Interfaith Cot Shelter, Northampton: Sam reported a smooth start to the season. The shelter has just hired a Spanish speaking person which is great (roughly 1/4-1/3 guests are Spanish speakers).  Sam reported 18 turn-aways for the month of November, 12 due to no capacity and 3 due to under the influence.  (Capacity is 20 beds in Northampton; 6 over-flow in Easthampton.) When people are turned away, they are given bus passes to get to Amherst (Craig’s Doors) and other options are explored with them.  There is a new doctor with Health Care for the Homeless providing service at the shelter each Wed. night which has been very useful.
Craig’s Doors, Amherst: Rachel and Jade reported a smooth start but capacity is also an issue (capacity is 22 men, 6 women).  They turn away roughly 1 or 2 men every night and sometimes must turn away women.
There was discussion of the work afoot via the Amherst Homelessness Committee (funded by the Town of Amherst to hire a staff person who would be available to provide additional prevention and re-housing support (a la Tenancy Preservation Program or the staff person in Northampton).  This would be an extremely useful additional resource.  Conversations also continue to be underway with the Amherst Housing Authority about designating units for homeless individuals.
We discussed the issue of moving people from shelter into housing and the extreme challenges involved, including lack of affordable housing and lack of landlords’ willingness to rent to people with more challenging backgrounds. We agreed it may be useful for the Network to focus on creating opportunities to build community relationships with landlords; we will discuss this further at the next meeting.  We also agreed that tracking the housing outcomes for people entering shelter would be useful to help better identify barriers and possible solutions. We discussed how the imminent implementation of Coordinated Entry may provide some additional tools and information.  We will discuss this further as well at our Jan. and Feb. meetings.
Friends of the Homeless, Springfield (via Janice Humason, email): FOH averaged 142/night in November.  Bed availability is greater in the women’s shelter than the men’s shelter.
Network Update:  Pamela reported the good news that the Network will continue to be funded at least through FY18 thanks to DHCD’s support.  Special thanks to DHCD Assistant Undersecretary Jane Banks for her support (she facilitated a contract amendment with CHD to allocate a portion of its housing stabilization funds to fund the Network).  DHCD determined that in view of the family and individual homelessness system re-procurement process coming up next fiscal year, the Network’s role as a convener around coordination and collaboration is critical.  Additional thanks to Donna Nadeau for her support as well!
Network endorsement of increasing benefits for EAEDC participants who are experiencing homelessness: Committee members unanimously agreed to endorse Mass. Coalition for the Homeless’ legislative advocacy campaign to increase Emergency Aid benefits for the Elderly, Disabled and Children (EAEDC) program participants who are experiencing homelessness. They still receive a reduced grant of only $92.80 from the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance. This monthly grant is 70% lower than the $303.70 average monthly grant for individuals who have housing. It clearly is insufficient for these participants to meet even their most basic needs.  Pamela will report to MCH to add the Network as an endorser.
Hampshire REACH meeting: Jay and Dave reported Hampshire County REACH is meeting this Monday, 12/11 at 1 pm at DMH Haskell Building.  It will be an opportunity to take stock of REACH’s future in view of the imminent implementation of Coordinated Entry sub-regional meetings.  Please come if you can to be part of the discussion!
Way Finders is accepting applications for Live 155, affordable housing on Pleasant Street in Northampton.  There are 3 preferences, including homelessness, relocation (if had to move from the original Pleasant St Lodging) and DMH units.  Go to: https://www.wayfindersma.org/real-estate/property/live-155 to find out how to apply (applications to enter the lottery are due by end of January.
Loretto House has a new executive director, Michael Lewis.  There are openings (sobriety required).
Three County CoC AHAR (Annual Housing Assessment Repot) review: We took some time to review Three County’s AHAR report, an annual HUD requirement (click here ; note that the report is for all of 3 County but the form – due to HUD’s failure to update – states Berkshire County).  The group found it interesting to take a closer look at what HUD is looking at and the numbers in the 3 county area.
Next meeting date: Thursday, Jan. 4, 10:30-noon, Friends of the Homeless

Individual Services Meeting Minutes – 11/2/17

Individual Services Meeting Minutes – 11/2/17
 
In attendance: Grechar Aquino, FOH, Jesus Arce, Springfield Office of Housing, Sarah Hills, Eliot-CHS , Janice Humason, FOH, Nichole King-Bodiford, FOH, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS, Terry Maxey, Open Door, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Digno Ortiz, FOH, Christina Ruest, FOH, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Stephanie Tonelli, FOH, Delphine Wray, FOH
Hampden County CoC Update (Gerry McCafferty): The shift to the new coordinated entry system (replacing HomeLink) is underway.  It combines the by-name list with HMIS info to allow for more complete information and history on the people being served.  The next step is a training on Nov. 15 to inform people about how to “refer in” to the system.  The group conducted a brainstorm of groups to reach out to, e.g., Providence Hospital, Noble Hospital, New North Citizens Council, Holyoke and Chicopee Police Departments, etc. Also upcoming is building out the system so it allows for making links to available housing, which will enable housing matches outside of and in between case conferencing meetings.  This should be up and running in the next few weeks.
They are housing roughly 10 people/month in recent months, up from average of 4-6.  This is a function of the Build for Zero strategy work, which includes putting in place systems to free up housing units and connect people to them as quickly as possible. Fantastic progress!
Based on street outreach, it is now understood that people living on the street go to Craig’s Doors in Amherst once their shelter opens (11/1).  Gerry will be reaching out to staff there to help bring them into the Hampden coordinated entry system to make it more possible to house these individuals before the shelter closes in May. This underscores the importance of cross-county coordination.
Three County CoC Update (Jay Levy): The seasonal shelters – interfaith cot and Craig’s Doors – is opening today.  The region is moving forward with coordinated entry, the 1-800 number is getting ready to launch; waiting on DHCD’s incorporation of the assessment tool into HMIS; the veterans committee is going strong.
Feedback on ICHH training question: ICHH asked for feedback from Network members regarding training needs for frontline staff working with all populations.  Specifically, the question is whether staff who may be focused on clinical concerns can miss tenancy-related issues which could de-stabilize an individual or family and lead to eviction/homelessness, e.g. failed unit inspections, missing deadlines for subsidy recertification paperwork, not reporting changes in income or family composition, problems with neighbors, etc.  Is this kind of training Network members would like to see?
Discussion:  The consensus is YES, this would be a useful training.  Housing stability can be tough to tackle when dealing with clinical issues.  Gerry will follow-up directly with Dave to get more info about what may be possible and will report back.
Network future discussion: Pamela informed the group of the Network Leadership  Council’s decision made at a meeting on 10/25: in view of the Network’s funding situation (likely not funded this fiscal year), the next 2 months will be utilized to retain committee feedback and professional facilitation to sort out the continuity of the Network without staffing.  The interim LC steering committee is meeting on 11/20 to discuss next steps more completely.  This committee meeting is the first opportunity to provide direct input on what is most useful (which will be relayed to the LC).  Comments included:
  • very useful to get big-picture info (not client specific) around the work that is being done; very helpful and informative
  • very important to have the opportunity for both CoC’s to come together and exchange info,
  • challenging to deal with meeting overload in general; would be good to examine: what are we doing, what is the goal, what needs to happen to get us there
  • Possible suggestions for reconfiguration included: inserting brief big picture updates at the start of case conferencing meetings (but it was noted that that would not allow for CoC’s to come together); meet bi-monthly or quarterly as a regional committee meeting, rotating facilitation duties; switch off between veterans and individuals so that still one monthly meeting
We will meet next (and continue this discussion) on:
Thursday, December 7
9:30 am – 11:00 am, Northampton Senior Center

Individual Services Meeting Minutes – 10/5/17

Individual Services Meeting Minutes
October 5, 2017
In attendance: Jesus Arce, City of Springfield, Sam Cunningham, ServiceNet, Sarah Hills, Eliot Homeless Services, Peg Keller, City of Northampton, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Rachel Weiss, Craig’s Doors, Lynn White, Viability

Update on Coordinated Entry 
  • 1-800 number:  Jay shared an update regarding the nearing release of the 3 County CoC’s coordinated 1-800 number to provide resource and referral information to people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.  Soldier On is administering the calling center (building off of their veterans hotline).  It will be open Monday through Friday, exact hours still to be determined.  Eliot Services and others are involved in training the staff.
  • Jay also reported that the coordinated entry assessment tool (an adapted version of the AZ Matrix tool) will soon be launched.  They are waiting on DHCD to integrate this tool into the HMIS system (suggested by November 1).  This will make data entry and implementation of a prioritization list more immediately doable.
 
Program updates
ServiceNet: Sam reported that cot shelter is almost fully staffed and ready to go (looking for bi-lingual staff person).  Trainings are underway around opioid awareness, Narcan, de-escalation, etc. A new doctor from Health Care for the Homeless is now on board.  Sam also noted that 173 people used the resource center this past summer, down from 207 last summer.
Peg noted from Northampton’s Next Step meeting that Eliot Services identified 25-30 unsheltered individuals in Northampton, more than ever before.  She also noted that the Easthampton overflow shelter is on track for opening on time.
Craig’s Doors:  Rachel reported that she and Jade are now co-executive directors with Rebekah Wilder’s departure.  It’s all systems go as they prepare for shelter opening on November 1. There are 3 managers this year, 2 with previous experience at the shelter. They are also incorporating extensive training as noted above and developing policies and procedures. Assuming traffic at the new Resource Center will pick up once the shelter is open.  They are also exploring developing overflow space at area churches.
Data Review:
We reviewed the 3 County CoC’s 2017 Annual Report and Point in Time Count Report, both required submissions by HUD.
Some discussion points:
  • Noted the increase in the unsheltered count, which Jay attributed to both better outreach and identification and the impact of the opioid crisis.
  • Under housing inventory, it was recorded that there was an increase in rapid re-housing beds of 100.  We agreed to follow-up with the CoC on this number since there is a lack of clarity around where those units came from (who is funded) and where they are located.
  • Winter shelter beds were also pulled out as a data point and we agreed to follow-up to better understand that as a measure (is that HUD’s?).
  • Interesting to see data around increase in job and income growth.
The group agreed that reviewing this data and better understanding what is submitted to HUD is useful to connect to both the goal of quality data collection and the underlying goal of ending homelessness.  We will continue the discussion at the next 3 County meeting.
Next meetings:
11/2, 10:30-noon, Springfield
12/7, 10:30-noon, Northampton – note: we agreed to permanently shift the meeting time in Northampton to 10:30-noon

Individual Services Meeting Minutes – 9/14/17

Individual Services Meeting Minutes
September 14, 2017

In attendance: Jesus Arce, City of Springfield, Nichole Bodiford, FOH Steve Connor, Central Hampshire Veterans Services, David Havens, MHA, Sarh Hills, Eliot CHS, Janice Humason, FOH Charlie Knight, Rainville, Todd Koniezhny, Next Step, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS, Sara Lopes, FOH, Jenifer Lucca, Samaratin Inn, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Bill Miller, FOH, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Digno Ortiz, FOH, Keith Rhone, FOH, Denise Rivera, FOH, Christine Ruest, FOH, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Julie Strothman, Green River Software Firm, Stephanie Tonelli, FOH, Rachel Weiss, Craig’s Doors, Lynn White, Viability Inc

Built for Zero Campaign: Gerry McCafferty reviewed the Hampden County CoC’s particiationi in the Built for Zero Campaign (with Community Solutions) to refine systems and improve outcomes in ending chronic homelessness.  The year long effort includes 4 conferences with other CoCs. There was one in April and another is upcoming in Denver in late September.

As part of this effort, out of the last meeting in April, the group produced the Chronic Storyboard with its goals, measures and strategies.  The goal was to reduce the number of chronically homeless people by 47% by the end of August.  There was a 20% reduction.  While short of goal, this is still an excellent accomplishment.

In reviewing the various elements, there has been a mix of progress and the need to revisit strategies and barriers.  Some goals need to be more long-term than anticipated.  The trend on chronic homelessness placements is positive with 44 chronically homeless individuals housed since January.

One important data finding is that between April-September 2017, 48% of the newly identified chronically homeless “aged in” to that status (click here ). This points up the priority of prevention efforts in order to avoid chronic homelessness.

Another significant finding is that 39% of those identified over this same time period were unsheltered.  The question here is whether there is an increase in the unsheltered population or improvement in the identification and assessment systems.  The feedback from the group indicated that while there may be some increase, the training around the assessment process is proving effective and better identifying those that should be identified.

Looking at new strategies going forward, questions to answer include: how do we make housing occupancy move faster when housing units are not being filled quickly? How we do we create more units? How do we identify who is on the verge of entering the chronic homelessness system and prevent it?

Gerry shared a draft Prioritization and Referral Rules for establishing clear guidelines for prioritizing placement in available units.  The application of these rules will take place in the context of a new database called Green River, which will replace Home Link (which is ending as of the end of September).  This system will allow for information to be drawn from HMIS and will facilitate easy identification of chronic homelessness status.  The group unanimously approved these Prioritization and Referral Rules.  

Shelter updates:

The Rescue Mission (Taylor St) opens on 10/2.  This will hopefully provide a welcome relief to the demand at Friends of the Homeless.

FOH is averaging 160 people/night.  This is extremely high for this time of year.  There was some discussion about whether this is partly driven by recent “sweeps” of buildings where people were sleeping in open spaces and stairwells.

Craig’s Doors in Amherst will open on 11/1.  They are gearing up with hires in place.  They also now have their Resource Center which will offer day time support to residents.

Grove Street (via email from Sam Cunningham of ServiceNet):  Grove Street is full and the waiting list is very long.  They are now hiring for the Interfaith Winter Shelter!  People can apply via ServiceNet’s website or call direct and they can direct.

Samaratin Inn – 4 short of full on funded beds.  They have seen a doubling of people in alcohol or drug recovery, the opioid epidemic coming home.

Holyoke meeting: Gerry McCafferty attended a meeting in Holyoke to discuss panhandling.  There was recognition by Holyoke leaders that emergency shelter located in the community could be helpful in addressing their challenges.  Gerry encouraged shelter providers to reach out to Holyoke to support this conversation and need for an emergency response system in Holyoke.

Network funding: Pamela announced that Network continuity is at risk in view of the Governor’s veto of funding in FY18.  While overrides are being considered now, one is unlikely for the Network. There are currently 2.5 months remaining in funding.  The Network Leadership Council is aware of the situation and while appeals for partner support are going out, suggested that it is time for Committees to take stock of this possibility and start to consider whether they would like to continue with the committee and brainstorm volunteer management.  Pamela urged people to bring this possibility back to their management for possible discussion.  She will report back on any funding news at the next meeting in October.

Next meeting:

Thursday, October 5
10:30 am- noon (note later hour in Northampton due to a conflict)
Northampton Senior Center