Category Archives: Meeting Minutes

Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes – 5/20/16

Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes
May 20, 2016

 In attendance: Troy Brin, Veterans Inc., Steve Connor, Veterans Services, Pat DiGregorio, Veterans Inc., Scott Haskel, Turner House, Jada Lovett, Craigs Doors, Katherine Person, Veterans Inc., Pamela Schwartz, Network, Kate Sweetster-Owens, VA HUD VASH, Sue White, VA HUD VASH, Sabrina Willard, Springfield Partners

Hampden County Update (via Gerry McCafferty email):

  • Currently putting time and energy into Homelink implementation; next set of trainings (for Housing Navigators and Housing Providers) will take place next Wednesday (5/25). We have moved both the veteran by-name list and the chronic list into the system.
  • The combination  of moving to Homelink and a HUD-required change in HMIS have caused an interruption in by-name listing tracking. There will be an updated report on numbers at our next meeting.
  • 60 Cass St  (veteran housing in Springfield) is now open. Chapin School Apts (veteran housing in Chicopee) is opening this summer.

Release of Information update

Hampden County has resolved the ROI so that providers can resolve veterans’ housing issues together.

The VA just issued new guidance on ROI for homeless veterans – essentially treating their housing status as an emergency and therefore allowing providers to exchange information to resolve the emergency. Click here for the new policy guidelines FYI.

Three County Update

Sabrina and Steve provided an update on Three County progress. The group is meeting bi-weekly, relying on their continually updated by-name list (thanks to Andrea Miller’s innovation and Toni Dolan’s data input support). They are making tremendous progress in moving veterans into housing. Very exciting!

Statewide Update – Click here for ICHH overview

Steve Connor just attended a meeting of the governor’s committee  on veteran homelessness. The subcommittees delivered their recommendations to be presented to the MA ICHH on May 25, and provided progress reports and work plans (see attached).

Veterans/Public Housing and Chapter 115: Click here for the ICHH summary

All public state aided housing authorities will issue a directive for a veteran’s preference for all veterans and spouse’s seeking housing.

All veterans on a fixed income and living in at a local housing authority will have their shelter allowance capped. This will eliminate redundancy for the housing authority, the veteran service officer as well as the veteran. The Veteran will be able to keep as much of their benefit as possible. This change will simplify the process for the veteran, and will make it easier and less burdensome on the community to welcome formerly homeless veterans.

Veterans DOC/VA Re-Entry Process – Click here for the ICHH summary
Recommendation: To facilitate and support the existing discharge planning process in place with DOC, the VA and some Houses of Corrections.

To develop a discharge planning process with DOC and the Houses of Correction to include EOHHS agencies (DVS, DMH, DPH, DTA) and local veterans services officers and providers which will support a successful transition to permanent housing for veterans who are not eligible for VA benefits. Veterans who may not be eligible for VAHealth benefits may still have a likelihood of assistance for Chapter 115 veterans benefits. 

Veterans Grant and Per Diem Working Group – Click here for the ICHH summary Recommendation: Provide a working forum and collaboration with federal (VA and HUD) and state (DHCD, EOHHS, DVS) partners and local veterans services providers to review and analyze MA GPD programs by individual provider and sites. This partnership will make specific recommendations to re-program sites and units into several options as follows: transition to bridge housing, financing for services to provide specialized treatment housing or programming (ie: substance abuse treatment or mental health support programs), assisted living and permanent housing. Some portfolio of GPD programs will need to remain as status quo to offer transitional housing and services for veterans who may fall into homelessness and need temporary support. However, MA has more GPD beds than are currently needed and there are gaps in housing that need to be addressed for veterans.

Steve also shared an update regarding the complicated political issues surrounding the Holyoke Soldiers Home (as it relates to Chelsea’s Home). Currently the Homes are serving different populations with Holyoke providing more a long-term medical model and Chelsea more of a veteran residential facility. It looks like Holyoke is shifting to more of the Chelsea model over the coming years based on pending legislation. More will become clear once master plans are released in the near future.

New veterans resources available through June 30

Sabrina Willard provided this update:

Springfield Partners Veterans’ Department has funding available for Veterans in need of toiletries (newly or about to be housed), workforce development (classes, certifications, work related clothing/supplies), moving expenses not covered by SSVF, education assistance (classes, certifications, supplies needed related to the education), and bus passes. There is a very low threshold for assistance under this funding, and a DD214/verification of military service is needed to be provided the funding. If an SSVF Case Manager through Springfield Partners (Donna Bryant, Donny Yabarra, Melissa Mateus, or Sabrina Willard) is working with someone already, please connect with them. However, if they are not currently connected with Staff, please reach out to Director, Walt Fludd, for more details. Walt cane be reached at 413-263-6500 x 0 ask for Walt Fludd or email him with “DVS Referral” in the subject line ( This funding is secured through June 30th, so we are urging folks to submit applications for assistance, even if it’s for a fall semester (education) to ensure they are considered for assistance.

Next meeting: Friday, June 24, 9:15 am – 10:30 am, Mental Health Association, 995 Worthington Street, Springfield

Housing Speak-Out: June 13, 11 am, Springfield

Stavros is hosting a Housing Speak-Out on Monday, June 13, 11 am – 12:30 pm, 227 Berkshire Avenue, Springfield. Click here.

Within Massachusetts many individuals face barriers to housing. Stavros is asking community members, housing advocates, those currently seeking housing, and cross-sector agencies to come together and discuss their concerns with housing. This event strives to meet the following objectives:

-Allow individuals from cross-disability, and diversified backgrounds to come together to discuss issues within housing

-Allow individuals seeking housing and those struggling with their housing placements to come together and share their housing stories.

-Participate in group activity that describes your ideal housing placement. How does it promote healthy living and community integration?

We hope you will join us! Light refreshments will be served!



Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee Meeting Minutes – 5/11/16

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee
May 11, 2016

In attendance: Jesus Arce, City of Springfield, Pamela Cook, Gandara Center, Lisa Goldsmith, Dial/SELF, Charlie Knight, Rainville/former consumer, Natalie Kyles, Gandara Center, Kim Majewski, Gandara, Peter Miller, Westfield CDGB, Pamela Schwartz, Director, Maria Vogel, Gandara Center

EOHHS newly funded youth program update:
Hampden County:
Gandara Center has hired 2 new staff (to run rapid re-housing and host family programs) and is in the process of hiring a third (for youth specialist for assessments and referrals). Rapid rehousing program will provide up to a year of support for homeless youth 24 and under. They already have referrals and are in the process of locating apartments, mostly in Holyoke and Springfield.   Gandara will hold the lease for apartments with youth having an option to take over the lease after the first year.

The host family program is modeled after CHD’s Safety Zone program, providing emergency placement with a family for 3-4 weeks, a version of short-term shelter and support which could be a pathway to rapid re-housing or reunification with family, circumstances depending. Host families get paid $50/day. 2 potential host families are in the pipeline.

Gandara also received “bonus project funds” through the HUD CoC funding process which will provide an additional 8 units of rapid re-housing for youth.

Three County:
Community Action and EOHHS are still working out contractual issues, including the question of whether the contract will include an up-front payment or require reimbursement. The latter poses great challenges. Hopefully, issues will be resolved imminently.

Unfortunately, the Three County CoC did not receive bonus project funding for their youth programs.

Westfield youth housing update:
Peter Miller provided an update on Our House, a housing project that will provide 10 units of supportive housing for homeless youth. They recently hired a resident manager and expect the housing to open by August 1 and will serve youth in Agawam, Southwick, Westfield and West Springfield.

FY17 State Budget Update:
The House budget included $1 million for youth funding; the Governor’s budget included $2 million. Advocacy will now focus on the Senate budget, due to be released on 5/17. Pamela will provide an action alert after the Senate budget is released regarding messaging to senators. Be sure to contact your senator!

Youth Count
The Youth Count is ongoing (5/2-5/15). Hampden County hosted a few events with minimal turn-out but then an event at STCC the other day had 38 youth attend. They all completed surveys and several assessments are underway right now for support. A very successful day. They also held an event at Dunbar High School where 8 or 9 youth attended. CHD hosted an event at HCC where only 2 youth attended.

Three County, due to its geographical expanse, does not do events, but they are continuing to get surveys out through their usual points of contact. Unfortunately, Greenfield Community College refused to host an event, citing confidentiality reasons. DIAL/SELF is continuing to push on that.

Next meeting: Wed., June 8, 9:30-11, Gandara Center, 1236 Main Street

Secure Jobs Advisory Committee Minutes – 5/3/16

Secure Jobs Advisory Committee
May 3, 2016

In attendance: Ashley Brehm, HAPHousing, Bill Mulholland, Berkshire Community College, Ken Demers, BerkshireWorks, Sean Hemingway, CHD, Joanne LaCour, DTA, John Leva, VA, Madeline Martinez, HAPHousing, Bill Mulholland, Berkshire Community College, Maegan Pedemonit, HAPHousing, George Ryan, Hampden County Regional Employment Board, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Representative Aaron Vega

April Progress Report:  Click here

Ashely reported on 91 placements to date – almost TWICE the FY16 goal (54). Congratulations to the team on such amazing work!

We reviewed the keys to success: fantastic collaborations with employers – C&S Wholesalers chief among them – great team work, great partnership with CareerPoint.

As an example of the creative collaborations: a number of SJ enrollees are in the process of becoming certified as home day care providers which will provide day care for children of SJ participants who require hard-to-find child care for late shifts (from employment at C&S). A form of social enterprise at work!

Berkshire County update: Ken reported a new case manager/job placement hire starting next week. The group is working exclusively with current enrollments (about 7), so their total goal for their grant is adjusted to be about 13 (currently placed 6).

FY17 Budget Update:
Secure Jobs received $500K in the House budget, down from $750K in the Governor’s budget (and $2 million needed to keep the program whole statewide).

Rep. Vega offered his insight on the process, suggesting that the statewide push on this from other areas of the state was not unified or strong; that it is overwhelming when advocacy groups present 20 priorities, making it difficult to “own” any one of them or focus. Must have very targeted attention on this item for it to rise to the top. Suggested we meet with local senators to zero in on Secure Jobs in advance of debate process. It was agreed that Pamela will reach out to Hampden County senators to ask for a meeting. Ken and Bill will reach out to Senator Downing.

Next year after our big progress report event we need to make sure we follow-up with one-on-one meetings with legislators to discuss our priorities.

Debrief on John Rio training on sustainability:

Some people found it re-energizing to stop and focus on alternative funding sources. Others found it lacking in specificity and new ideas. We agreed that pursuing social enterprise ideas is a great direction.

Expanding Secure Jobs Advisory Membership:

Ashley proposed looking at some of our current employment collaborations and expanding membership to include them. All agreed! Rep. Vega also suggested reaching out to the Holyoke and Springfield Chambers of Commerce. We agreed to pursue new members who could fuel our partnerships in the community.

Next meeting: Tuesday, June 14, 11 am – 12 noon, location to be determined