Category Archives: Meeting Minutes

Next message from HUD’s Ann Oliva: Lessons Learned from FY13

Welcome to the next message in our new “SNAPS In Focus” series. This week, I’m going to focus on the results of the FY 2013 portion of the FY 2013 – FY 2014 CoC Program Competition now that the final award announcement has been made. This was a unique competition and while a full debriefing will be made available in the next few weeks, I wanted to take a few minutes to highlight what generally went well and where communities could make improvements in the future.

I’d like to start on a positive note by saying that we at HUD were incredibly encouraged to see in the competition (and hear about anecdotally through our partners) that communities took on the challenge of strategic resource allocation. You read our Weekly Focus messages and carefully considered the policy priorities which resulted to important conversations about how the homeless services system should work and perform at the local level. We saw more projects being created through reallocation than ever before, with 229 CoCs that reallocated existing projects to create new permanent supportive housing for people experiencing chronic homelessness or rapid re-housing for families with children coming from the streets or emergency shelter.

We also were encouraged to see how communities embraced the new concepts such as prioritization for persons experiencing chronic homelessness and housing first. In the last few weeks we have released additional information and guidance on these topics, including the Notice on Prioritizing Persons Experiencing Chronic Homelessness in Permanent Supportive Housing and Recordkeeping Requirements for Documenting Chronic Homeless Status and a brief on Housing First in Permanent Supportive Housing . These are intended to provide CoCs and recipients with guidance on how to implement these policies, and we will continue to put out guidance and tools to assist communities in these efforts.

This was also the first year that the national Annual Renewal Demand (ARD) exceeded the total amount available for the FY 2013 CoC Program Competition. This made the room for error even less than any other year, yet it was evident upon review of the project applications that many CoCs are not reviewing project applications in a meaningful way and therefore failed to catch errors that resulted in projects either being rejected by HUD or not being awarded due to insufficient funding. I cannot stress enough how important it is for CoCs to thoroughly review each project application that is submitted for consideration—both new and renewal. Mistakes at the project application level can cost a CoC greatly. Reviewing project applications is also an opportunity for the CoC to identify potential capacity issues so that they can work with the recipients to resolve them sooner, hopefully avoiding monitoring findings or possible denial of funding by HUD.

Below, I want to highlight some of the areas that had the biggest impact to hopefully help CoCs and project applicants from making similar mistakes in the future:

  • Each project application must pass the eligibility and quality threshold requirements as laid out in the NOFA in order to be funded, regardless of how it is ranked or prioritized by the CoC. CoCs are expected to take the time and carefully review EACH application that is ranked and included on the CoCs Priority Listing to make sure all applications are as strong and competitive as possible.
  • Tier 1 and Tier 2 are financial thresholds to help CoCs plan and prioritize projects when the total amount of funding available is less than the national Annual Renewal Demand, as was the case in FY 2013. The Tier 1 funding line was firm and projects had to either fall entirely within Tier 1 or they were automatically pushed into Tier 2. CoCs must carefully review each budget to ensure that funding requests are accurate and precise.
  • Project applicants should closely review the NOFA to ensure that the population they propose to serve is an eligible population for the type of project being requested. Applicants should answer each question thoroughly and provide the best information possible to describe what is being proposed and ensure that information is consistent throughout.
  • A new reallocated project is a new project—not the continuation of an existing project. Even where the applicant and some aspects of the new project may be the same, the new reallocated project must meet all of the characteristics as required by the NOFA for the project type being requested. This means, for example, that when a transitional housing project is being reallocated to create a new permanent housing project, the participants in the transitional housing project were not eligible to be served by the new permanent housing project.

In the next couple of weeks, HUD will release a debriefing broadcast and will send out debriefing summaries to all CoCs to provide more detail about what we saw during the review of the FY 2013/FY 2014 CoC Applications and Project Applications. CoCs, recipients, and project applicants that were denied funding are all encouraged to view the broadcast when it becomes available. 

I want to close this message by simply saying thank you. We recognize the extraordinary challenges that you are up against and the importance of the work that you do. As a former provider, I know how difficult the decisions we are asking you to make can be. We are working hard in SNAPS to identify areas where we can provide CoCs with more flexibility and provide better guidance so that CoCs and recipients are able to make informed decisions. We are all on the same mission together—to end homelessness for all persons. 

As always, thank you for your service to people who are homeless and at-risk of homelessness.

Ann Marie Oliva
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Special Needs
Acting Director, Office of Special Needs Assistance Programs

Minutes – Individual Services 8/7/2014

Present: Jeffrey Langlois (Providence Ministries), Lizzy Ortiz (City of Springfield), Patricia McDonnell (SMOC), Dave Modzelewski (Network), Jay Levy (Eliot CHS), Peg Keller (City of Northamoton), Dave Christopolis (Hilltown CDC), Charlie Knight (Rainville, post consumer), Hwei-Ling Greeney (Amherst Community Connections), Claudia Phillips (Health Care for the Homeless), Steve Connor (Central Hampshire Vets Services), Gerry McCafferty (City of Springfield).

VI-SPDAT Pilot Report

The meeting started with a report from providers piloting the VI-SPDAT.  CoCs are required to select a tool to use for coordinated assessment, and the CoCs have focused on the VI-SPDAT as what appears to be the most commonly used tool across the country.  In the past month, both Eliot CHS and Friends of the Homeless have experimented with using the tool. Continue reading

Minutes – Veterans Committee, 7/23/2014

In attendance:  Jay Levy, Eliot; Kerry Spitzer, MIT,; Beth Barbra,Vets Inc;  Isabel Belen,Vets Inc; Sabrina Willard,Springfield Partners; Netshari Ortiz,Soldier On; Ben Cluff, MDPH; Steve Connor,  Northampton Vets Services; Steve Como, Soldier On; Melissa Mateus, Springfield Partners; Susan White, VAMC

Update on Veteran Resource Sheet

*Ben Cluff notes that it is being used by the housing specialists in Springfield.  Sue White shared that a VA staff member was recently handed the sheet by the Holyoke VSO. So it is evidently being used.  No changes or updates suggested.

*Ben Cluff asks if the “script” given to family shelter providers was also distributed on the blog (it was not.)  Discussion ensued and it was agreed that it would be useful to also distribute the script after a couple of revisions (change the SAVE/SHARP team number, remove HUD-VASH specific info) and after Isabel Belen translates it into Spanish.  Sue White and Isabel Belen will communicate re: progress and forward finished product to Pamela Schwartz for distribution on the blog after her return.

State Commission to End Veteran Homelessness update: 

Steve Connor who serves on Commission and chairs Prevention working group provided an update.  The Commission is going to be offering two regional trainings in the fall, one in Boston and one in Western Mass, likely at the Soldiers Home (location and date not yet confirmed.)  Four hour training with several topics:  Update on the 5 year Statewide Plan, discussion with PHA and housing providers about how they can be helpful in the effort to end homelessness, discussion about how VSO’s and PHA’s can collaborate to prevent evictions, among others.

The target audience will be those who are less familiar with the Network’s activities and are not necessarily connected to the CoC, e.g.  housing authority staff, housing providers.  Steve is asking for assistance in building the invitation list and requests that people forward names/agencies that should be included.  His e-mail:  vetadmin@northamptonma.gov

Steve shares that the Commission is beginning to pay closer attention to PIT data in Western Mass with an eye towards ensuring that all resources are being utilized in the best and most timely way.  This led to discussion of a suggestion received by Sue White from Stephanie Harrington of the Boston HUD office that the Veterans Committee considers adding to the agenda regular discussion of identified homeless veterans in the area/problem-solving sticky cases.  All present concluded that this is already done sufficiently at area REACH meetings and that, in fact, a nice integration of veteran providers has already been achieved at these meetings, making an additional veteran-specific meeting unnecessary.

Discussion then ensued about the launch of the centralized intake and how best to coordinate all of the procedures and data collection efforts of the CoC, Network, Statewide Commission, VA, Veterans Committee, etc.  It is agreed that this is a large and complex effort requiring its own discussion; it will be put on the agenda for the next Veterans Committee meeting.

Announcements

*The Vet Expo is happening on October 9 from 11-7:00 at the Mass Mutual center.  This event is not specific to homeless veterans but rather will cover the full gamut of veteran resources.

*Jay Levy announces the Housing First Conference taking place on October 16.  He notes that a representative for veteran issues/resources will need to be identified to be a participant on panels.  It was agreed that we could decide on this by/at the next meeting.

*Ben Cluff announces a new SAMHSA grant that will provide for another three year round of the Access to Recovery program.  He emphasizes that veteran status alone will make one eligible for the program.  See attached flyer.

*Steve Como announces that The Blue Book is now available in both book and on-line form.  This is the detailed resource book of veteran resources available in Western Massachusetts.  (Link is forthcoming.)

Other Updates

*Beth Barbra of Vets Inc. introduces herself.  She is the new Employment and Training Specialist for homeless or at-risk of homelessness individuals.  Refer by phone (413-276-9311) or e-mail bethbarbra@veteransinc.org.  She notes that she is able to go to clients for meetings.

*Vets Inc. informs us that Prevention money for HUD-VASH (not non-HUD-VASH) clients has run out for this year.  However, Rapid Rehousing funds are still available for HUD-VASH clients.

*Springfield Partners/Soldier On announces that there is a new case manager in training.  Going forward, they will be putting more of an emphasis on case management in an effort to work with people on creating sustainability in their situations, e.g. providing assistance with ongoing budgeting rather than simply covering a past due utility bill (that soon becomes past due again.)

Next Meeting:  August 29, 9-10:30 at the Northampton Senior Center