Category Archives: Individual Services Committee

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).

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

Individual Services Meeting Minutes – 8/4/16

Individual Services Meeting
August 4, 2016

In attendance: Erin Forbush, ServiceNet, Jen Glover, Life Path, Allie Haber, Network, Dave Havens, Mental Health Association, John Hornik, Amherst Housing and Shelter Committee, Peg Keller, City of Northampton, Charlie Knight, former consumer, Patricia McDonnell, SMOC, Dave Modzelewski, Shirley Rodriguez, Celtic Care Health Plan, Network, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Sarah Tanner, Friends of the Homeless, Lynn White, HRU, Rebekah Wilder, Craig’s Doors

FY17 State Budget Update: Pamela reported on the FY17 budget outcomes in relation to the Network priorities (click here for summary). In terms of individual services priorities:

  • The individual shelter bed rate did not increase to $30/night. Instead ,there was a very small increase in the funding line-item to individual shelters.
  • RAFT eligibility was expanded to include a small pilot project amount ($500,000) allocated to disabled individuals, the elderly and unaccompanied homeless youth. (required a legislative override of the Governor’s veto)
  • The Network was funded for an additional year at $125,000 (and required a legislative override of the Governor’s veto).
  • Additional overrides that were not initially included in the Network priorities but became priorities due to the Governor’s vetoes included Craig’s Doors (Amherst shelter) and Berkshire prevention and shelter funds. Both are intact thanks to the legislature’s overrides.
  • Tenancy Preservation Project (TPP) was level funded at $500,000
  • Unaccompanied homeless youth received $1m in FY17 and will receive an additional $1m through FY16 carryover (once supplemental budget is passed), so essentially level-funded.
  • Local consortiums – which provided prevention and re-housing funds for both individuals and families – were not funded in the FY17 budget. However, the Governor has allocated $1 million in funding (which would make it level to FY16) in a supplemental budget that has not yet been voted on so there is reason to be hopeful.

In light of the lower-than-anticipated state revenues for FY17, the region (and State) did well overall in the funding of its priorities. 9C cuts (mid-year cuts imposed by the Governor) are especially threatening this year in view of the fiscal constraints.

We also shared the acknowledgment of our Western MA legislative delegation’s tremendous support of our efforts. We encouraged sending notes of thanks to Senate President Rosenberg and House Ways and Means Vice-Chair Stephen Kulik and your own senator and representative. Find contact info https://malegislature.gov/People/Search

Friends of the Homeless Update: Sarah Tanner of FOH announced that FOH and Clinical & Support Options (CSO) have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding to merge operations. The process is currently in the due diligence phase. FOH will stay the same in its services and leadership; the exciting opportunity with the merger is the addition of expanded on-site mental health and other support services to its shelter guests.  They hope to complete the merger by the end of 2016.

Debrief on Amherst Forum on Homelessness

Thanks to John Hornik of the Amherst Housing and Shelter Committee for attending our meeting and for organizing the forum. He noted that attendance far exceeded his expectations (estimated 130 in attendance). There were good presentations by speakers and then 5 break-out groups to discuss specific topics, e.g., outreach, day services, etc. Pamela can forward John’s notes on the break-out group discussions to anyone interested (please let her know).

People at our meeting who attended the forum (Rebekah, Peg, Sarah, Allie) also shared their experiences. All acknowledged the tension in the room regarding consumer representation on the panel. One consumer spoke at the end and he was very hostile and attacking in his talk, which contributed to the intensity of the evening. Sarah described the evening as “positive intensity;” Peg described it as “provocative.”

Everyone acknowledged the critical importance of hearing from consumers to better understand their challenges and needs. Determining the best vehicle for obtaining that representation is also challenging but something that must be addressed on a local level.

Peg also spoke on behalf of the whole group to thank John for his work on making this forum happen. “A very brave thing to do” to create a community-wide opportunity to stare at this challenge and open everyone up to the difficulty and frustration experienced by many.

John welcomed input on next steps. The Committee agreed that the most important next step would be the creation of a coordinating group similar to what exists in Northampton and Springfield that is made up of all the key partners: the Town leaders – police, fire, etc. – Craig’s Doors, Eliot Services, business leader and anyone else they deem appropriate. This group should establish a regular meeting schedule that affords the opportunity to build relationships, strategies and trouble-shoot as needed. The Network will continue to make itself available to support this effort as needed.

John distributed a draft directory of Amherst services and resources related to homelessness. Feedback is welcome (Pamela will send this to the whole group for review and feedback shortly). Feedback can go to John directly at jhornik123@gmail.com.

Other updates:

  • Erin Forbush updated that ServiceNet shelters are all full with wait lists. ServiceNet received a 3 year SAMHSA grant – one of 25 in the nation – to provide mental health and housing services. Great news!
  • Shirley Rodriguez of Celticare Health joined us today. Based in Waltham, MA but serving the state, she wanted to let us know that any consumers who have Celticare insurance coverage are entitled to support services through its insurance program. For more information, contact Shirley at 617-779-5120 or a.rodriguezacevado@centene.com

Network mapping project:

Peg informed everyone of the Network’s upcoming “mapping project” to be conducted by an interim steering committee made up of executive directors from cross-section of agencies from across the four counties. The agenda is to revisit the multiple meeting demands – from Network to CoCs to Consortiums to WMIC – and map how best and most efficiently meet the goal of ending homelessness in the region. We will keep everyone posted of the project’s progress as it unfolds.

Next meeting date: Thursday, September 1, 10:30-noon, Friends of the Homeless, Springfield