Category Archives: Individual Services Committee

Individual Services Meeting Minutes – 6/16/15

Individual Services Committee Meeting
June 16, 2015

In attendance: Peg Keller, City of Northampton, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Northampton, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Rachel Weiss, Craig’s Doors, Rebekah Wilder, Craig’s Doors, Lynn White, Next Step, Chris Zabik, DMH

 Draft Western MA Opening Doors Plan to End Homelessness (click here)

 Feedback and discussion:

Chris Zabik: Plan offers a great overview of the landscape around what is happening and being done to combat homelessness.


  • Clarify some graph labeling (more detail provided in a separate email)
  • Requested more discussion of employment as a strategy to combat homelessness; felt this could use more attention in the Plan

Jay Levy: Plan reads clearly. Feedback:

  • #s on homeless youth did not add up (how 0 in Three County CoC) – Pamela will follow-up on that.
  • Specifically address elder homelessness. Understands this is not a population that HUD has prioritized but believes it deserves our specific attention with action steps.
  • Specifically address short-term homelessness among highly vulnerable populations, e.g., severe mental illness. If not chronically homeless but suffers from major disability, we need to focus some resources on this population.
  • Incorporate into the Plan the Network’s Work Group to House People with Sex Offense Histories – no mention anywhere and it is ongoing work of the Network. Should include our goals and action steps.
  • Question re: the definition of “functional zero” – while understanding that it means housing new homeless within 30 days (i.e., our supply can meet the demand), there is no mention in that definition of housing the CURRENTLY homeless. Pamela presumed that was implicit but will confirm and clarify.


Peg Keller: Plan has good format, clear and clean. The right length (not too long!). Feedback:

  • 6 – Outreach and Engagement – first thought was that it failed to include a sufficient breakdown of the providers in our region (e.g., missing Eliot Services), but after further discussion among the group, we agreed that this section was intentionally designed to be “big picture” and to go “smaller” with a list of providers would potentially distract and then trigger the question of “who should get included.” We are good with what is!
  • Strategies sections in general seem a little weak. Pamela acknowledged that this is partially a function of the delayed timing and that we will continue to flesh out content for the strategies as the Plan unfolds (post 7/1).
  • Peg also noted the “accountability” description where it states that the Committees are accountable to the Network and the CoCs. We need to get more clear about the relationship between the entities – committees, Network, CoCs – in order to create buy-in all around and ensure the accountability chain has meaning.

Other misc. items:

  • Individual homelessness chart – double check numbers as they don’t appear to add up
  • 21 first bullet – correct typo of “veteran” to read “chronically homeless”

    Brainstormed additional strategies for chronic homelessness:

  • Adopt prioritizing criteria so that we are prioritizing housing for most vulnerable chronically homeless individuals (whether it’s VI-SPDAT or some other tool)
  • Implement triage system that includes diversion and rapid-rehousing for individuals
  • Utilize Tenancy Preservation Project (TPP) to prevent homelessness
  • Utilize Critical Response Team (CRT) for most vulnerable, hardest-to-house individuals in order to broaden eligibility criteria for certain state level of services (ameliorate state system silos)

Pamela brought Hwei-Ling Greeney’s feedback around the Vision Statement on p.5 failing to specifically mention individual homelessness (as opposed to exclusively chronic homelessness). The group acknowledged the explicit miss but believed that on balance since we are aiming to align with the federal plan and the goal of “setting a path to end all types of homelessness” includes individuals, the combination of presentation, grammatical flow and content makes it acceptable .

Feedback is continually welcome. A version of a final plan will be issued by 6/30 to meet the contract deliverable but the Plan’s evolution on some level will never end!

Next meeting: Thurs., 7/9, 10:30-noon, Northampton Senior Center

Individual Services Meeting Minutes – 5/7/15

Individual Services Committee Meeting
May 7, 2015

Attendees: Beth Barbra, Veterans Inc., Elizabeth Bienz, ServiceNet, Matt Castleman, SMOC, Steve Connor, Veteran Services, Sarah Coutier, YWCA, Julie Federman, Town of Amherst, Janice Humason, Friends of the Homeless,Todd Konlezhny, HRU/The Lighthouse, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Luz Ortiz, Friends of the Homeless, Katie Miernicki, ServiceNet, Bill Miller, Friends of the Homeless, Dave Modzelewski, REACH coordinator, Ali Pinschmidt, ServiceNet, Denise Rivera, Friends of the Homeless, Joe Schroeter, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Pamela Schwartz, Network coordinator, Jerry Ray, Mental Health Association, Rebekah Wilder, Craig’s Doors, Delphine Wray, Friends of the Homeless

Zero 2016 Campaign Update:

Gerry provided an update on the Hampden County CoC’s participation in the Zero 2016 campaign (goals: end veteran homelessness by end of 2015; chronic homelessness by end of 2016). This is a national campaign (led by the same groups that did the 100,000 Homes campaign) with dozens of communities participating nationwide. There is a big intersection between this campaign, best practices and what HUD is requiring CoC communities to do.

Gerry led us through a powerpoint created by the Campaign (click here):

Defining “zero” as “functional zero:” if the number of homeless veterans at the next Point in Time Count is less than the number we house on average a month. Our first goal is to house the people who are currently homeless and have been for some time. We do that by first ensuring an accurate count, then analyzing how many we are assisting into permanent housing each month and how we can increase that number each month. It is understood that we will not be able to stop new people from ever becoming homeless; the measure of success is if we can re-house them within 30 days.   That equals “functional zero.”

For example: if our community houses 3 veterans each month and we find at our PIT count that we have 2 homeless veterans, we have arrived at functional zero.

The campaign includes determining our Monthly Housing Placement Goal. That happens through a formula that includes calculating: how many homeless veterans we can expect to see in 2015 (measured through a formula based on the PIT count). For Hampden County, that number is 87 (PIT count in 2015 showed 38 homeless veterans). Divided by 11 months (remaining time as of January, 2015) which makes the Hampden County goal housing 8 people per month.

Then we review if the community is on track. January: housed 5; Feb. housed 7, March housed 1. Not currently on track..

In contrast: chronically homeless – because we have a longer timeline – until end of 2016, we are on track: with 2 years to reach our goal, and an estimated number of 91 chronically homeless individuals, we must house 4 individuals each month. In January, we housed 5; Feb. housed 3; March housed 5. On track!

Zero: 2016 theory of Change

  1. improve housing placements
  2. increase capability of local leaders
  3. build a creative, connected and committed movement
  4. optimally functional zero – 2016 team

The Campaign is sponsoring a week-long webinar series this week, supporting communities in plans for an “Action Camp” and 30 day push to house veterans. Hampden County is in a better place than a lot of other communities because of its relationship with the Springfield Housing Authority (access to housing units) and with the VA (good partnerships). Entity is rapid results institute. Action Camp and then 30 day push.

Release of Information

As part of the campaign, we are compiling a registry that includes who we are trying to house. Then it is necessary to assess each individual’s needs and find the best housing match.   Hampden County has agreed to use the VI-SPDAT as its assessment tool. But confidentiality issues require a release of information from the individual so providers can exchange VI-SPDAT scores and determine appropriate housing needs.

Mercy Hospital offered to draft a Release of Information form that would cover both federal and state law for information sharing for purposes of looking at the VI-SPDAT. Gerry distributed the draft form and has asked people to review it to ensure the right entities are listed (click here).

Once we have this release form established and it gets implemented, we can start putting people into HomeLink (the campaign’s online registry tool).

The only items that will be shown at the REACH meetings are the name and the score. Other information will remain confidential.

Continue reading

Individual Services Meeting Minutes – 4/2/15

Individual Services Committee
April 2, 2015

In attendance: Elizabeth Bienz, ServiceNet, Jennifer Glover, Franklin County Home Care Corporation, Hwei-Ling Greeney, Amherst Community Connection, Todd Koniezhny, HRU/The Lighthouse, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Katie Miernecki, ServiceNet, Andrea Miller, Network/Three County CoC, Bill Miller, Friends of the Homeless, Dave Modzelewski, Network, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Claudia Phillips, Health Care for the Homeless, Lynn White, HRU

The Western Mass. Opening Doors Plan:
Pamela introduced the meeting with an overview of the Network’s effort, in conjunction with the Hampden County and Three County CoCs, to develop a localized version of the US Opening Doors Plan to End Homelessness, which sets forth the goal of ending veteran homelessness by 2016, chronic homelessness by 2017 and family homelessness by 2020. Andrea Miller is consulting on this project (with the lead consultant Simtech) and attended today’s meeting to share some of the tools that are available and collect feedback on them.

Andrea provided an overview of the Supportive Housing Opportunities Planner (“SHOP”) that allows regions to plan for the number of permanent housing units required in the region through a calculation involving the Point In Time count and the number of permanent housing beds currently available. Please see the SHOP attachment provided by Andrea from the HUD website. Andrea also provided our CoC’s numbers as a basis for discussion and review. Finally, an overview of the tool is also available on US ICH’s website:

Andrea also provided an overview of a new tool produced by the Zero 2016 campaign, a national campaign of which the Hampden County CoC is a participating partner, whose goal is to end veteran homelessness by 2015 and chronic homelessness by 2016. HomeLink is a very exciting tool that will allow providers to track an individual from homelessness to housing, incorporating their VI-SPDAT score as a basis for prioritization. Andrea demonstrated the tool with their video, which can be viewed here:

Homelink Navigator Training Video

Homelink Navigator User Guide

We also discussed how this tool can be integrated into our own region’s Housing Options Tool. A smaller committee will be meeting on this topic later today and will report back.

The Hampden County CoC is integrating HomeLink into its efforts now. It is also working on the release of information forms to ensure such integration is possible. We will report back on that aspect at the next meeting as well.

The group was very engaged by what this level of tracking and data analysis could provide our region. Everyone agreed to continue this discussion and provide ongoing input to the process as part of our committee work.

Legislative Advocacy:

Pamela reported on the series of meetings the Network is having with our region’s legislators to advocate for the Network’s budget priorities, which include increasing the bed unit rate for individual emergency shelters. Bill Miller clarified that he thinks it would be most strategic to emphasize the issue of parity since Western Mass. shelters 13% of the homeless population statewide and only receives 7% of the funding. Increasing the unit rate to $32/night – the state average – would be one way to do this (FOH is currently receiving $25/night). ServiceNet and Samaritan Inn would also benefit from this approach. Pamela will continue to stress these points in upcoming legislative meetings.

Next meeting: Thursday, May 7, 10:30-noon, Friends of the Homeless, 755 Worthington Street, Springfield

Individual Services Meeting Minutes – 3/5/15

Individual Services Committee
March 5, 2015

In attendance: Matt Castleman, SMOC, Tanisha Collins, Friends of the Homeless, Jonathan DeMars, Friends of the Homeless, Erin Forbush, ServiceNet, Todd Koniezhny, HRU, Janice Humason, Friends of the Homeless, Nichole King, Friends of the Homeless, Charlie Knight, consumer, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Patty McDonnell, SMOC, Katie Miernecki, ServiceNet, David Modzelewski, Network, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Claudia Phillips, Health Care for the Homeless, Jerry Ray, Mental Health Association, Denise Rivera, Friends of the Homeless, Laura Saponare, Catholic Charities, Pamela Schwartz, Network; plus special guests from Father Bill’s and MainSpring

Zero 2016 campaign: Gerry McCafferty provided an update on the campaign. Shared the “take down targets” based on the campaign’s formula that estimates the number of homeless to anticipate in 2015 (using 2014 PIT count as basis) and therefore how many homeless veterans we need to house each month. This goal of “zero homelessness” factors in that there will always be some new homeless veterans/individuals coming into the system; the definition of success is becoming re-housed within 30 days. Every month data will be pulled from HMIS and follow-up will occur to help ensure a complete count of who got housed on a monthly basis.

Hampden County has a total of 110 individuals/veterans it will need to house by the end of 2015/16. Currently, there are 33 veterans in the system, 16 in transitional housing programs, 17 in shelter (many at the Rescue Mission). It will be especially challenge to get veteran homeless population down to zero due to the high number of Grant Per Diem (GPD) beds (transitional housing) in the area. We also discussed the additional challenge of housing veterans who are not eligible for veteran services.

The next step is assigning “housing navigators” to these homeless individuals. This can be especially challenging when there are people who are barely tied to the system with minimal interaction. It will take one-on-one engagement to move these people forward in housing.

The campaign is offering trainings on the VI-SPDAT. Gerry will send out the information to the group. She will also include information on a documentary on homelessness to be aired on WGBY in late March which highlights the 100,000 Homes Campaign and its success in NM.

Springfield ESG grant planning: Gerry confirmed that she sent out a survey around ESG grant planning. She is interested in hearing feedback about how to allocate the additional $20K the City is receiving, specifically whether to use it to support the hire of an outreach worker and/or to support medium-term rapid re-housing with longer subsidy support (closer to 12 months of assistance).

We also discussed the possibility of the housing subsidy being tied to enrollment in the Secure Jobs program, i.e., better chance of long-term sustainability with employment support.

The RFP will be released on 3/18, due 4/15. Funding will include outreach, rapid rehousing short-term, medium term and shelter operations. Continue reading