Category Archives: Meeting Minutes

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

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting Minutes – 9/13/17

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee Meeting
September 13, 2017

In attendance:  Rosemary Fiedler, Thrive HCC, Sohanda Failla, CHD, Lisa Goldsmith (by phone), DIAL/SELF, Natalie Hill, Gandara SHINE, Sarah Hills, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Natalie Kyles, Gandara SHINE, Ann Lentini, Domus, Inc. , Cindy Maddison, HCC, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Emily Nolan (by phone), HUD TA, Jean Rogers, CHD,  Pamela Schwartz, Network, Marie Thoppe, HCC Transition to College

A framework for our efforts right now:

Gerry McCafferty, as liaison of the Hampden County CoC, provided a backdrop for our planning effort.  The initial impetus for this planning was a HUD youth services grant – a first application was submitted last year and while the CoC scored well, it was just shy of getting selected; and now the promise of a second round of HUD funding for which the CoC will apply (the RFP is not out yet).

The goal, however, is larger than the submission of any one application.  It is to take an in-depth look at our current youth services homelessness system, determine what is working and what isn’t, what, where and how we need to invest to close the gaps and what it would cost and how best to allocate any funds.

We can learn from other efforts in other cities and states.  Gerry provided us a copy of Washington, DC’s 5 year plan to end youth homelessness.  It offers an explicit breakdown of the contrast in outcomes from the “same old approach” to “after Year One” (see p. 3).

We need to answer the questions: What do we know? What are we missing? How do we do the necessary outreach to ensure complete information? How do we determine what is needed?

Gerry will map out the various “buckets” of information needed to help us determine next steps. The buckets will include:

  • Data – what do you know?
  • Environmental scan – who is out there intersecting with this population?
  • Coordinated entry system: what is the current system of assessment/service; how do we integrate it into the overall coordinated entry system?
  • Promising models – what do we want to learn from?
  • Strategies and outcomes

Youth involvement

The group welcomed two HCC students to the committee.  Cindy offered the perspective that one of the biggest challenges for young people is time!  The time it takes to access services, transportation, public benefits.  The barriers are daunting.

The group agreed that we needed to hear more from youth and Cindy helped us frame a gathering in terms of “what could have made it easier for you” when faced with housing instability, a request for information as opposed to personal experiences (that they may not be inclined to share).

We agreed on the following:
Thursday, October 26
4:30-6:30
include pizza, gift cards (if available) and child care

Possible title:
Your Voice,
Your Housing Needs

Rosemary will see if HCC has space and whether offering child care is permissible.

Pamela will send out draft text and Natalie will do a draft flyer.

Gerry will reach out to MHSA to learn more about their youth led training (for adult providers and youth) and see if they can do a training here.

Gerry will produce an initial document around the “buckets” of work to be done for discussion at our next meeting.

Next meeting date:
Wed., October 11
4:00 – 5:30 pm
HCC Frost Building Bartlett Room (across from Frost Building 309, Board Room)

Family Services Meeting Minutes – 9/12/17

Family Services Meeting MInutes
September 12, 2017

In attendance: Christina Aliengena, NEFWC, Yoshi Bird, YWCA, Ellen Broadhurst, West Springfield Public Schools, Anthia Elliott, Safe Passage, Holly Florek, CHD, Lindsay Hunt, Pittsfield Community Connection, Jenise Katalina, Square One, Faith Lafayette, NEFWC, Fran Lemay, ServiceNet, Luis Martinez CHD, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Jenni Pothier, Tenancy Preservation Project, Steve Plummer, Springfield Partners, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Sarah Slautterback, DESE, Janna Tetrault, Community Action,  Janette Vigo, Way Finders, Lauren Voyer, Way Finders

DHCD and Data Announcements:

  • Jane Banks, new Associate Director of Housing Stabilization, sends her regards and regrets at not being able to make today’s meeting but is looking forward to seeing us in October.  She reported that all is well.  Pamela will relay our regards back!
  • In view of the high level DHCD staff transition and summer schedules, there has not been the usual monthly DHCD phone call with providers where statewide and regional data is shared.  This will likely happen again at the end of this month.
  • Donna Nadeau reminded all providers that Boston Housing Authority is distributing Leading the Way Home vouchers to all families who have any ties to Boston (i.e., living out here but originally from there or worked there, etc.).  This is a fantastic opportunity for a maximally mobile voucher so be sure to review status of families to determine whether a Boston connection exists.
  • Sara Slautterback reported that there are now only 41 families living in hotels, split between Waltham and Malden.
  • Sara also reported that schools reported over 21,000 homeless students in the system last year.  While this number is similar to years past, there is a large increase in doubled up families.  There were especially significant increases in New Bedford (near Amazon’s new offices) and Lowell (home of UMass Lowell).
  • CHD reported that its “front door team” diverted over 30 families into housing this past month.
  • Ellen Broadhurst of West Springfield Public Schools reported that she has seen a number of families being forced to pay for hotels themselves to avoid homelessness.

We will look forward to a more complete DHCD data update at our October meeting.

Domestic Violence/EA Work Group Report:

Yoshi Bird of the YWCA reported on behalf of the work group, which has met twice since our family services committee last met.  It includes DV providers from across all four counties as well as DTA/DV representation.  The goal is to create a workplan that will result in improved coordination between the systems (specifically integrating the work into the coordinated entry systems of each sub-region) and improved outcomes.  This requires establishing baseline measurements and creating indicators for progress, strategies for getting there and outcome measures. For example, one measure is to increase the number of families experiencing DV who access HomeBASE; another is to improve access and quality of data around families in our region who are experiencing DV.  We know we need to do better at identifying when DV is the originating reason for homelessness (and accessing EA).  We also know we need to do better at improving communication between the systems so families are not inadvertently placed near their abusers.

Jenni of TPP noted that they are working on the prevention side to collect data on their intake to track DV experience in relation to housing instability.  They are finding a very high correlation. Yoshi will follow-up to learn more about their data collection.

Yoshi and Gerry McCafferty are working together to produce a draft work plan for the working group, which is meeting again on 10/3.  We will bring a draft for this committee’s review to our next meeting on 10/10.

Override Update

The group discussed that the Legislature is taking up override votes on the Governor’s vetoes in the next couple of days.  The HCEC funding cut is especially concerning for families as is the cut to Horizons Play Spaces  which provides play spaces and child care for children in shelters. Pamela will send out a targeted email following this email with information on the override votes and how to contact your legislator.

Announcements: 

  • Holly Florek of CHD announced that she has taken Jane Banks’ place and Luis Martinez has taken Yoshi’s place (she was formerly at CHD).  They are getting up to speed!
  • Yoshi Bird announced that Kristin Peterson of the YWCA has left and Yoshi should now be the contact for the committee for any Y related inquiries.
  • Lauren Voyer of Way Finders announced that RAFT funds are being distributed through the HCECs.  The demand is very high. If anyone needs transportation help from Northampton to their Holyoke or Springfield offices for HCEC assessments, they should reach out to Luz Alvarado – ldalvarado@wayfindersma.org. Way Finders got its ESG funding renewed for its rapid re-housing program and for its Holyoke supportive housing program. Also, note that Way Finders has a new website: http://wayfindersma.org 
  • Sarah Slautterback announced that she has drafted a new RFP for school districts to encourage partnerships with housing providers. It will be released as a planning grant this Fall (to launch in Jan/Feb) as a 3 year continuation grant for roughly $75-100K per year.  School districts are eligible to apply if more than 5% of the student population is homeless. While schools must be the lead contractor, they can sub-contract with providers.
  • Janna Tatreault of Community Action reminded all that for their service area (Franklin, Hampshire, North Quabbin) their Community Resources program offers small financial assistance for utility and rent arrears, in addition to information and referrals.
  • Jenise Katalina of Square One reported on a very successful workshop for families with facilitators from Way Finders where parents were provided parenting education, housing search assistance, support in applying for SNAP and other benefits and more.  Hoping to do it again.
  • Lindsay Hunt of Pittsfield Community Connection offered a snapshot of her program: offers support services to young adults ages 17-24 years who are proven risks by virtue of being either victims or perpetrators of violent crimes or formerly incarcerated or suffering family disruption and hardship in other ways.  They are part of Berkshire Children and Families. They suffered a one-third budget cut in this last budget cycle so they had to move offices from downtown and they may lose staff.  They have 96 young people on their list and roughly 20 who are active.  She sees a lot of homelessness among the young people she serves and is glad to be connected (and the committee is glad, too).

Next meetings:

Tuesday, October 10, 1-2:30 pm, CHD

Tuesday, November 14, 9:30 am – 11:00 am, Northampton Senior Center

Tuesday, December 12, 1-2:30 pm, CHD

Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes – 9/8/17

Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes
September 8, 2017
 

In attendance:  Dan Boyea, Hampden County Sheriff’s Department, Keegan Hersey, Veterans Inc., Sue Moorman, VA, Katherine Person, Veterans Inc, Nikki Riello, Hilltown CDC, Denise Rivera, Friends of the Homeless/CSO, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Kate Sweetster-Owens, HUD VASH, Stephanie Tonelli, Friends of the Homeless/CSO, Sabrina Willard, Soldier On

Hampden County Sheriff Department Update:  Dan relayed his thanks to the VSO Association (Chris Lizotte chair, with help from Steve Connor) for providing the necessary letter requesting that contact info on current veteran inmates get forwarded to the appropriate municipality’s VSO for follow-up in the service of public safety.  This is the request they needed to make it possible for the Sheriff’s Department to provide this information. Referrals and connections are happening now (both with inmates traveling to the VSO and with the VSO traveling to the correctional facility).  This is very exciting progress and promises to reduce homelessness for formerly incarcerated veterans. Thanks to Dan and to the VSO’s for their leadership on this! We agreed that this collaboration could offer a model statewide and that we will be sure DVS is aware.
Nikki Riello of the 3 County CoC will pursue contacts in the Berkshire County Corrections to try to replicate this arrangement.
Dan also announced that he just received a promotion to Grants Coordinator for the system, but the good news is that either he or another from the Sheriff’s Dept. will continue to attend these meetings.  Congratulations to Dan!
Hampden County by-name list: At the latest meeting earlier this week, there were only 9 veterans on the list.  Great progress is being made.
Three County by-name list: Outside of Soldier On, there are 10 veterans on the list, 4 of whom are unsheltered. At Soldier On, there are 190, a significant drop from the aprox. 250 formerly sheltered there (many transitioned into permanent supportive housing).
Other 3 County updates: working on veteran referral form for other providers (modeled after Hampden County CoC referral form); working on outreach to VSO’s in more municipalities
Announcements:
  • Soldier On’s dedication of its new veteran housing (Gordon H. Mansfield Veteran Housing) in Agawam will take place on September 18, 1 pm, 702 South Westfield Street, Feeding Hills. 51 units of veteran housing, move-in date slated for end of Sept.
  • Stand Down is happening on Friday, 9/29 – Greek Cultural Center, 16 Plainfield St. Springfield
  • Northampton Housing Authority now has a trickle of HUD VASH vouchers again (formerly all used for Agawam housing but that need has no been met so acquiring vouchers through attrition, etc.).
Keegan’s update from Maine: Keegan of Veterans Inc attended a veterans committee meeting convened by the ME CoC (only one CoC for the state).  It was interesting to see their emphasis on governance and the level of prescriptive detail when contact with a veteran is made. Their goal is to ensure sustainability of the system regardless of actual individuals involved. We agreed this is an important element that deserves more attention in this region.
Keegan’s other update on Grants Per Diem (GPD): this grant in Shrewsbury is changing as of 10/1, transferring more beds to a clinical case management model.  All part of the overall shift in allocation of beds in the GPD program.
Next meeting dates:
October 27, Northampton, 9:00 -10:30
Friday, December 1, MHA, 9:15-10:30