Category Archives: Individual Services Committee

Individual Services Meeting Minutes – 2/5/17

Individual Services Committee Meeting
January 5, 2017

In attendance: Beth Barbra, Veterans Inc., Janice Humason, Friends of the Homeless, Peg Keller, City of Northampton, Jade Lovett, Craig’s Doors, Kim Majewski, Gandara Center, Katie Miernecki, ServiceNet, Dave Modzelewski, Network, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Stephanie Tonelli, Friends of the Homeless, Rachel Weiss, Craig’s Doors

Point in Time Count Initial Debrief:
It’s too early for official findings, but we discussed the following:
Hampden County:

  • All shelters at capacity (Friends of the Homeless, Taylor St, Samaritan Inn)
  • 15-20 unsheltered individuals in Springfield – small increase
  • Eliot Services reported larger than usual unsheltered population in Holyoke/Chicopee but waiting for final numbers
  • Gandara Center held 2 events to reach out to homeless youth, one at STCC, another at Dunbar

3 County County:

  • Grove St and Cot shelter full
  • Craig’s Doors not full (oddly so, one unusual night surrounded by all-full nights)

Data Discussion:

The group reviewed templates of monthly and single night counts completed by Friends of the Homeless, Craig’s Doors and ServiceNet’s Interfaith Winter Shelter (Samaratin Inn was unable to provide due to resource limitations; Donna Nadeau of DHCD will reach out to encourage their participation). The group agreed to use the monthly template with the following modifications:

  • Add data point on number “new” to homelessness and number “returning”
  • Add data on number of women and couples who are turned away (breaking down total number which is currently provided)

We agreed we would continue to meet on the first Thursday of the month and plan to review the data from 2 months prior, e.g., for the March meeting we will look at January data. That leaves sufficient time for compilation and distribution.

Pamela will follow-up with Katie regarding the creation of a template to include all data points.

The group also discussed the issue of reaching out to Holyoke to discuss its shelter needs. Donna pointed out that the system is likely to be re-procured in FY19 (along with the family shelter system) and now is the time to lay the groundwork for a regional response when that arises.

Peg raised the issue of responding to the need for a woman’s shelter in the upper Pioneer Valley as well. We will discuss further at the next meeting.

Update on Hampden County Landlord Outreach meeting

Pamela reported out on the initial Landlord Outreach meeting that took place on Wed. 1/25 (attending: Margaret Curran, Mass. Discrimination Project, John Fisher, HAP, Charlie Knight, Rainville/former consumer, Joe Schroeter, Eliot Services, Pamela Schwartz, Network). At that meeting, two primary agendas were identified: (1) to better understand the definition of “supportive” as it relates to Permanent Supportive Housing as it relates to encouraging landlords to rent to chronically homeless individuals and (2) to create a “PR strategy” for small private landlords renting to formerly homeless tenants. It was agreed that Pamela would facilitate the convening of a next meeting that would also include Friends of the Homeless, Hampden County CoC (Gerry McCafferty) and Jay Levy of Eliot Services.

FY18 budget priorities:

The group agreed to recommend priorities similar to FY17, including:

  • Increase in line-item for individual emergency shelters to $4 million (per statewide Coalition for Homeless Individuals) – this is instead of a specific bed rate increase but more of a focus on an overall increase in the line-item (question raised about how this would impact bed rate – Pamela will follow-up)
  • RAFT increase to include individuals ($13 m)
  • Tenancy Preservation Program funded at $1 million (increased from current $500,000)

 

Next meeting date:
Thursday, March 2
10:30 am – 12 noon, Friends of the Homeless

Individual Services Meeting Minutes – 1/5/17

Individual Services Meeting
January 5, 2016

In attendance: Beth Barbra, Veterans Inc., Nichole Bodiford, Friends of the Homeless, John Fisher, HAPHousing, Courtnee Godbolt, Friends of the Homeless, John Hornik, Amherst Housing and Shelter Committee, Janice Humason, Friends of the Homeless, Charlie Knight, SCARF/Rainville, Jade Levitt, Craig’s Doors, Terry Maxey, SMOC/Open Door, Bill Miller, Friends of the Homeless, Digno Ortiz, Friends of the Homeless, Luz Ortiz, Friends of the Homeless, Christina Ruest, Friends of the Homeless, Joe Schroeter, Eliot Services, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Dennis Sheehan, Friends of the Homeless, Stephanie Tonelli, Friends of the Homeless, Rachel Weiss, Craig’s Doors, Delphine Wray, Friends of the Homeless

Three County CoC Update:
Dave Christopolis provided by email this update: The CoC is moving into the coordinated entry model this year which will begin incorporating chronically homeless people into the assessment and case conferencing process. The Coordinated Entry committee will meet next on Jan. 12. Rebekah Wilder of Craig’s Doors is the committee chair. TAC will also provide TA. Sometime in January HUD will release coordinated entry guidance which will be useful.

Craig’s Doors update: With state funding now secured, the shelter is able to end its “triage mode” of planning for the worst and now focus on stability and maximizing its space and resources. Shelter capacity is full and an anecdotal estimate suggests at least one woman and 2 or 3 men each night must be turned away. With stable funding, they will now also focus again on expanding shelter capacity for women.

Creating a monthly meeting data template: The group decided it would be useful to create a monthly template for shelters across the region to use so we can have a global view of our regional shelter capacity and a better understanding of the people who are relying on it. The group agreed at minimum on four indicators:

  • Capacity – specifically how many turned away
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Place of origin

The group debated whether to pick a given night to draw this data or to create a monthly overview draw or some combination of both. Pamela will follow-up with a small group to decide these questions, which will include: Janice Humanson, Christina Ruest and Jade Lovett. Pamela will reach out to ServiceNet (Katie Miernecki) and Samaratin Inn (Jenn Lucca) to include them as well.

Hampden County CoC Update:
Dave Modzelewski and Janice Humason reported on its bi-weekly REACH meeting where case conferencing on a by-name list of homeless individuals is taking place. At the last meeting earlier this week, it was noted that roughly 6 people had been housed. There was also discussion about the analysis of time and energy spent on particular individuals who are unwilling/unable to be housed and the fact that there are currently some available units that are not filled due to these kinds of barriers. Janice noted the recent hire of two new housing navigators (welcome to Stephanie and Digno!) who will be able to offer additional support in this effort.

Friends of the Homeless shelter update: at capacity. As always.

Landlord outreach sub-committee meeting: Pamela noted that initial efforts to schedule were not successful (not enough people could agree on the offered dates). She will try again looking further out. Interested participants include: John Fisher, Joe Schroeter, Charlie Knight and Pamela will loop in Janice Humason to see if it works for her or an FOH staff person to join.

Network funding update: Pamela reported that in view of the Governor’s 9C budget cut, the Network will not have state funding this year, which means current funding will run out by March 1. The Network Leadership Council will meet on Feb. 9 to discuss possible alternatives such as partnership contributions. Pamela will keep everyone posted.

Announcements: John Fisher announced the New England Fair Housing Conference, April 6-7. A great speaker line-up. Mark your calendars now and stay tuned for further information.

Next meeting date: Thursday, 2/2, 9:30-11 am, Northampton Senior Center (to be confirmed)

Individual Services Meeting Minutes – 10/6/16

Individual Homelessness Committee Meeting
October 6, 2016

In attendance: Elizabeth Bienz, ServiceNet, Brittany Billmeyer-Finn, Franklin Resource Center, Carl Cignoni, Hampshire Sheriffs Office, DOC Reentry Services, Steve Connor, Veterans Services, Toni Dolan, Veterans Services, Charlie Knight, former consumer, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS Homeless Services, Kim Majewski, Gandara Center, Terry Maxes, SMOC, Scott McAllister, Veterans Services, Patty McDonnell, SMOC, Dave Modzelewski, Network, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Sarah Tanner, Friends of the Homeless

Hampden County CoC:

Sarah Tanner reported on Bill Miller’s attendance at a Zero 2016 conference that both celebrated the progress towards ending homelessness and examined best practices as they would apply to ending individual chronic homelessness. There was focus on coordinated entry and the use of by-name lists and Friends of the Homeless is continuing to participate in brainstorming and planning sessions. The campaign will rename itself from Zero 2016 (the year will pass soon!) to Build for Zero (unanimous approval!).

Friends of the Homeless is implementing its coordinated entry system now. It recently posted for 2 job positions as housing navigators, examining best system for access (looking at a 1-800 number, e.g.,).

Dave Modzelewski reported that REACH is meeting twice monthly in Hampden County and will be using one of those meetings to zero in on the hardest to serve individuals. He also noted the challenge of acquiring the necessary documentation (and putting it into the Homelink data base) to verify that an individual is chronically homeless (especially under HUD’s new definition). The CoC is working with the police department and hospitals to build systems for documenting conditions. Dave noted that follow-up with HUD on these barriers would be useful (Pamela will follow-up with Gerry on this).

Three County CoC:
Steve Connor announced the 3 County CoC Veterans Training, 10/20, 3-4:30, Northampton Senior Center and Berkshire Regional Housing Authority in Pittsfield; this is aimed at frontline staff and volunteers of organizations that may intersect with veterans (from libraries to food pantries, e.g.) and provide information and education about how best to direct veterans to appropriate services

On coordinated assessment: The 3 County CoC has chosen to pilot a version of the AZ Matrix tool for their assessment tool (as opposed to the VI-SPDAT). This tool, shorter with arguably a more trauma informed care approach than the VI-SPDAT, is being piloted by Eliot Homeless Services and ServiceNet (in the Berkshires), as well as by providers in Amherst. Assessments will be submitted to Andrea Miller, the 3 county data analyst. We will await more information around timeline for review and timeline for the pilot. The group agreed that using 2 different assessment tools across the region affords an opportunity to compare the utility of each and refer to the other if one produces a score that does not seem consistent with the individual’s vulnerability.   It remains to be determined whether the 3 County by-name list review will take place within REACH meetings or through ServiceNet provider meetings.

Confidentiality Training:
Marianne Winters, executive director of Safe Passage, provided the group with a brief training on protecting confidentiality when assisting a person in housing crisis who has suffered domestic violence. Please click here for the materials that were distributed and contain 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.
  • The Violence Against Women Act sets out very clear parameters, e.g., only aggregate, non-personally identifying information may be released.
  • Very explicit, legally verifiable releases of information are necessary to release any personal information.
  • Safe Passage is available for phone calls for consultation around emergency housing issues. Please contact:  Anthia Elliott – 413.586.1125anthia@safepass.org or our 24/7 hotline – 413.586.3742

Other Updates:

RAFT is now available on a pilot basis to individuals via each regional housing authority. Jay asked for the appropriate contact at HAP. Pamela will find out and report back to the group.

Network Update: Pamela reported that the Network is still waiting for its contract from DHCD and was advised that it must wait until revenue figures are in for the third quarter to determine whether 9C cuts are required (the Network as an earmark would be vulnerable). Pamela will keep everyone posted.

Next meeting: November 3, 10:30-noon, Friends of the Homeless

Individual Services Committee Meeting Minutes – 9/1/16

Individual Services Committee Meeting Minutes – 9/1/16

 In attendance: Nichole Bodiford, Friends of the Homeless, Steve Connor, Veterans Services, Toni Dolan, Veterans Services, John Hornik, Amherst Housing and Sheltering Committee, Todd Koniezhny, Next Step/Lighthouse, Jay Levy, Eliot Services, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield/Hampden CoC, Gleidy Maria, Patty McDonnell, SMOC, Catholic Charities, Dave Modzelewski, Network, Luz Ortiz, Friends of the Homeless, Christina Ruest, Friends of the Homeless, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Mark Watkins, Gandara Center, Paulett Webster, Lighthouse/HRU

Review of Hampden County CoC FY17 Workplan for Chronically Homeless

Click here for workplan.

Gerry McCafferty reviewed and updated the committee on the 6 strategies:

  1. Complete VI-SPDAT on every chronically homeless person in Hampden County:
    good progress being made; hospitals involved, outreach to food pantries, integration into Friends of the Homeless systems; estimates 60-80% of CH individuals are screened. Discovered through outreach efforts with the police department and BHN that there were more homeless individuals than previously aware who were not accessing shelter, although still in process of assessing who is chronically homeless. The by-name list is being built and the tracking of who is being housed and where is underway.
  1. Create and implement outreach plan: this effort is also well underway with the integration of hospitals and police and the continual outreach to other points of access for CH individuals. Most striking thing learned is that HMIS is not the most significant resource for identifying CH individuals but other points of contact instead (e.g., high-end utilizers of health services).
  1. Use REACH meetings to further housing outcomes: This clarified focus of the REACH meetings has happened; now the focus is on outreach to ensure that widest possible net exists for identifying individuals, assessing their needs and finding best housing placements.
  1. Increase the number of units available to CH individuals – Gerry announced that the CoC as part of its NOFA application is submitting an application from Friends of the Homeless for 15 new scattered site units for CH individuals. MHA is determining the number of CSPECH units to be created this year; Springfield Housing Authority is adding more units to his CH project-based voucher program. Gerry is also meeting with other housing authorities to encourage them to use vouchers for the “moving on” program, allowing for a freeing-up of PSH units.
  2. Improve navigation/case management to increase housing placement: this process is underway.
  1. Improve non-PSH housing placements: This process is also underway.

Gerry welcomed committee members additional review and feedback (please email her at: GMcCafferty@springfieldcityhall.com). Immediate committee feedback noted the great progress on outreach and the promise of additional PSH units to meet the consequences of it.

3 County CoC Update:

Dave Christopolis was at a conference so unable to attend. Jay Levy offered the update that the 3 County’s coordinated assessment tool is in its pilot phase and is going well with ServiceNet and Eliot Services using the tool (an adaptation of the AZ Matrix tool). Their work plan is in process; the larger challenge in developing the by-name list is the large geography and where to locate the housing match conversations (presumably requiring sub-groups based in each county).

The group discussed the challenge of verifying chronic homelessness, especially if the individuals cross CoC lines. Gerry shared her strategies of recording the dates police or BHN interacted with homeless individual in the community as a basis for verifying homelessness. She also noted that if the individual is in the HMIS system, each CoC could generate a letter verifying dates in shelter and share that information across the CoC.

Veteran housing update:

Steve Connor provided a brief update on housing availability:

The 44 units in Leeds are filled (single men, most units are HUD/VASH)
Most of the Chicopee units are filled; Agawam construction is underway. Bilingual veterans center is having a hard time filling slots.

Amherst update:

John Hornik summarized the latest developments:

  • Production of the Amherst resources directory (previously distributed and available on the blog)
  • Distribution of candidates’ for Amherst House of Rep seat (Rep. Ellen Story’s position) positions on homelessness.  Click here
  • Commitment by Town of Amherst to create a coordinating group around homelessness services

The committee saluted the progress of this initiative and John’s leadership in making it happen.

Statewide CoC Advocacy Update

Gerry McCafferty provided an update on the statewide organizing effort to advocate to HUD for changes in the CoC program. Click here for summary of advocacy effort. Recommendations include the creation of a CoC advisory committee, changing to a multi-year application, rewarding higher performing CoCs with 5 year renewals and target lower performing CoCs with TA; simplify and streamline data reporting.

Gerry welcomed committee feedback prior to bringing the issue to her own CoC board for discussion.   Gerry noted that the advocacy is being driven by HUD’s funding cuts to many of MA’s CoC’s. The City of Springfield has not experienced those cuts and actually receives bonus funds each year as a result of scoring very highly in the competition. She is trying to ascertain the appropriate role of the Hampden County CoC in this effort. Gerry raised the question of whether HUD is pushing for change that gets us all closer to the outcomes we seek and whether annual review is valuable to ensure maximum attention to performance outcomes.   Due to a lack of time, we agreed we would return to the discussion of this effort at our next meeting.

Network mapping process and committee input: Due to lack of time, this agenda item will be taken up at our next meeting.

Next meeting date: Thursday, October 6, 9:30-11 am, Northampton