Category Archives: Meeting Minutes

Family Services Meeting Minutes – 5/12/15

Family Services Committee
May 12, 2015

In Attendance: Jason Allen, VA CWM HCS, Jane Banks, CHD, Sarah Cloutier, YWCA, Hillary Cronin, VA, Charity Day, Franklin County Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority, Harry Duchesne, NEFWC, Anthia Elliot, Safe Passage Lindsay Errichetto, Family Life Support Center, Jill Fijal, Chicopee Public Schools, Erin Forbush, ServiceNet, Donna Harris, Franklin Hampshire Career Center, Sean Hemingway, CHD, Mary Johnson, Central West Justice Center, Fran LeMay, ServiceNet, Jane Lindfors, DTA DV Unit, Luz Marcano, VA Springfield Clinic, Heather Marshall, Elizabeth Freeman Center, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Steve Plummer, Springfield Partners, Ramona Rivera, HAPHousing, Stephen Roussel, Community Action, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Sarah Slautterback, DESE, Janna Tetreault, Community Action, Jennifer Wands, Springfield Public Schools, Arelis Whitaker, Springfield Partners, Andrea Zurrin, ServiceNet,

Hampden County Point in Time Count:

Gerry McCafferty presented on the Point in Time Count results for Hampden County (Three County PIT count results will be provided by next meeting). Click here for detailed results.

88% of all homeless people were families; the number of homeless families increased by 12% compared to 2014; 35% increase between 2013 and 2015

756 homeless families – equals roughly 2,700 people, including children; 62 families met the definition of chronically homeless (head of household has a disability and homeless for year or longer or 4 more or times in the last 3 years)

Typical homeless person is latina child in shelter with family. Biggest number of people homeless were children under 18. More Hispanics than non-Hispanics. People of color are disproportionately represented. 58% are latino even though only 21% of population.

Trends:
Individuals: mostly decreasing (there was a spike last year but this was due to an erroneous count of pregnant women)

Slight declines in chronically homeless individuals and unsheltered individuals.

Comments:

As the state has moved away from motels, it has greatly increased shelter capacity.

In order to better understand what is happening and what reforms are needed, we need to track how many people are entering homelessness, how long people are staying in shelter and how many people are exiting the system into permanent housing. The Network recognizes the need for this data in the context of drafting its Opening Doors Plan to End Homelessness but DHCD is currently not permitting access to it. Conversations are underway between DHCD and HUD to resolve this problem.

Sarah Slautterback of DESE pointed out that in the 2013-14 school year, the number of homeless students increased by 12% over the previous year. There is an equal number of doubled up (which the PIT does not count) and sheltered students.

Continuum of Care New HUD Funding Round

Gerry announced that HUD is beginning its new funding round. The Hampden County CoC is expecting to have the ability to apply for new funds. Two funding categories exist: (1) rapid rehousing assistance – subsidies for up to 2 years; and (2) Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) for chronically homeless families. Gerry noted there are a few PSH projects that have been in existence and sometimes these programs have had trouble locating chronically homeless families. The question is at least partially the need for intensive services vs. the need for rental units and whether 2 years of rental assistance could make a bigger difference in getting a family closer to housing stability.

The consensus – Jane Banks, Harry Duchesne and Lizzy Ortiz all spoke – was to prioritize PSH; that they have the hardest time finding housing for those families with very complex needs who need supportive services.

Gerry noted that once the NOFA (Notice of Funding Application) is issued (in the next month), the CoC will know how much money is available and the conversation will continue.

FY16 Budget Update

Pamela noted that the House passed its budget a couple of weeks ago and the Senate Ways and Means Committee is releasing its budget later today. In the House Budget, relative to Network priorities the following occurred:

  • Secure Jobs was level funded at $500,000 (consistent with Governor’s budget), which is $1.5 million short of what is actually needed to maintain the program statewide (will continue to seek more in Senate budget).
  • Housing Consumer Education Centers (HCEC) received full funding, restored to FY!4 levels. This is great news!
  • Unaccompanied Homeless Youth services were not funded in the House (or Gov) budget. Will continue to seek funding in Senate budget

Pamela noted that everyone should stay tuned for upcoming Senate budget advocacy updates.

Systems Design Clinic

The Network has retained the National Alliance to End Homelessness to conduct its “Systems Design Clinic” on June 3-4 in Springfield (UMass – 1500 Main Street) to bring to everyone the national framework for preventing and ending homelessness. It promises to be instructive and energizing as we move forward in our own work. Please consider attending so we can bring back the framework together and have it inform our work as the family services committee.

Announcements

Jane Banks: CHD has job openings at Grace House, a family therapist and program director position. Go to CHD website for more information.

CHD was awarded money from Northampton Housing Partnership to do case management work to help stabilize at-risk tenants. It is hiring case manager now. All agreed it would be interesting to track the data of this intervention.

Luz Marcano: the VA has positions available for social work. Got to http://usajobs.gov for more information.

Anthia Elliot: Safe Passage has many job openings – go to website to learn more. http://safepass.org

Next meeting: June 9, 1:00-2:30 pm, New England Farm Workers Council, 225 High Street, Holyoke

Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes – 5/8/15

Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes
5/8/15

Attendees: Beth Barbra, Veterans Inc, Dave Christopolis, Hilltown CDC, Ben Cluff, Mass DPH, Steve Connor, Northampton Veteran Services, Gregory Dabney, Adj. Placement, Anthony DiStefano, Western MA Hospital, Kate Sweetster Divens, VA Springfield HUD VASH, Bryan Doe, Springfield Vet Center, Andy Fahey, VA Springfield HUD/VASH, Lisa Goldsmith, Dial/SELF, Scott Haskell, Turners House, Dennis Konadu, HUD VASH, Valenda Liptak, Western MA Hospital, Luz Marcano, HUD/VASH, Jim Mahoney, Holyoke Veteran Services, Katherine Person, Veterans Inc., Jerry Ray, Mental Health Association, Pamela Schwartz, Network director, Todd Simon, Bosco Properties, Dom Sondrini, Soldier On, Kerry Spitzer, MIT, Susan White, Veterans Admin Medical Center, Sabrina Willard, Springfield Partners,

Point in Time Count, January 2015: (click here)

Gerry McCafferty presented on the PIT for both CoC’s:

A total of 255 veterans were counted. None were living outside. Of these persons, 47 were living in emergency shelter and 206 were living in transitional housing.

Number of homeless veterans decreased by 21.5% compared to last year. Veteran individuals without children declined by 19.%, all of this decline was in the 3-County CoC.

Demographics of veterans are 95% male, majority are white and non-hispanic. Opposite of typical homeless person in population as a whole: child who is latina (this reflects the large homeless family population)

There was discussion around the counting of homeless veterans in relation to transitional housing (grant per diem beds). While we participate in the national conversation around how to reduce the length of stay in GPD housing (HUD/VASH has housed people in GPD beds 3 times over), we need to focus on the first priority of housing veterans who are living in shelter.

It was also noted that the number of veterans in transitional housing is actually going down, but that those who are there have more complex needs and harder to house quickly. It is also now a slightly younger population.

The group agreed that we can do a veteran homelessness count more than once a year since it is easier to ascertain the number through shelter and transitional housing count. We should also contrast this number with the numbers served through SSVF (to track the relationship between the SSVF resource and declining number of homeless veterans).

Master Registry

Gerry discussed the National Alliance to End Homelessness’ creation of a template for a registry of homeless individuals. Click here to review. Gerry is experimenting with a referral list from Friends of the Homeless to do a similar kind of targeting. Mercy Hospital volunteered their Compliance Officer to the task of a drafting a release form that will allow providers to talk to each other about the individual’s VI-SPDAT score and housing needs. Gerry has sent that list to the VA to see if that will work to enable this kind of data sharing.

The Three County CoC experiences the veteran homelessness challenge differently as Soldier On is the predominant provider in all respects – shelter, transitional housing and permanent housing. While some veterans are still missed on the street, Soldier On is really the central go-to resource. The focus there is on continued street outreach.

All agreed that the CoCs are the resource for filling in the gaps when veteran services miss, either as a referral source or as access to other housing if veteran is not VA eligible.

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Individual Services Meeting Minutes – 5/7/15

Individual Services Committee Meeting
May 7, 2015

Attendees: Beth Barbra, Veterans Inc., Elizabeth Bienz, ServiceNet, Matt Castleman, SMOC, Steve Connor, Veteran Services, Sarah Coutier, YWCA, Julie Federman, Town of Amherst, Janice Humason, Friends of the Homeless,Todd Konlezhny, HRU/The Lighthouse, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Luz Ortiz, Friends of the Homeless, Katie Miernicki, ServiceNet, Bill Miller, Friends of the Homeless, Dave Modzelewski, REACH coordinator, Ali Pinschmidt, ServiceNet, Denise Rivera, Friends of the Homeless, Joe Schroeter, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Pamela Schwartz, Network coordinator, Jerry Ray, Mental Health Association, Rebekah Wilder, Craig’s Doors, Delphine Wray, Friends of the Homeless

Zero 2016 Campaign Update:

Gerry provided an update on the Hampden County CoC’s participation in the Zero 2016 campaign (goals: end veteran homelessness by end of 2015; chronic homelessness by end of 2016). This is a national campaign (led by the same groups that did the 100,000 Homes campaign) with dozens of communities participating nationwide. There is a big intersection between this campaign, best practices and what HUD is requiring CoC communities to do.

Gerry led us through a powerpoint created by the Campaign (click here):

Defining “zero” as “functional zero:” if the number of homeless veterans at the next Point in Time Count is less than the number we house on average a month. Our first goal is to house the people who are currently homeless and have been for some time. We do that by first ensuring an accurate count, then analyzing how many we are assisting into permanent housing each month and how we can increase that number each month. It is understood that we will not be able to stop new people from ever becoming homeless; the measure of success is if we can re-house them within 30 days.   That equals “functional zero.”

For example: if our community houses 3 veterans each month and we find at our PIT count that we have 2 homeless veterans, we have arrived at functional zero.

The campaign includes determining our Monthly Housing Placement Goal. That happens through a formula that includes calculating: how many homeless veterans we can expect to see in 2015 (measured through a formula based on the PIT count). For Hampden County, that number is 87 (PIT count in 2015 showed 38 homeless veterans). Divided by 11 months (remaining time as of January, 2015) which makes the Hampden County goal housing 8 people per month.

Then we review if the community is on track. January: housed 5; Feb. housed 7, March housed 1. Not currently on track..

In contrast: chronically homeless – because we have a longer timeline – until end of 2016, we are on track: with 2 years to reach our goal, and an estimated number of 91 chronically homeless individuals, we must house 4 individuals each month. In January, we housed 5; Feb. housed 3; March housed 5. On track!

Zero: 2016 theory of Change

  1. improve housing placements
  2. increase capability of local leaders
  3. build a creative, connected and committed movement
  4. optimally functional zero – 2016 team

The Campaign is sponsoring a week-long webinar series this week, supporting communities in plans for an “Action Camp” and 30 day push to house veterans. Hampden County is in a better place than a lot of other communities because of its relationship with the Springfield Housing Authority (access to housing units) and with the VA (good partnerships). Entity is rapid results institute. Action Camp and then 30 day push.

Release of Information

As part of the campaign, we are compiling a registry that includes who we are trying to house. Then it is necessary to assess each individual’s needs and find the best housing match.   Hampden County has agreed to use the VI-SPDAT as its assessment tool. But confidentiality issues require a release of information from the individual so providers can exchange VI-SPDAT scores and determine appropriate housing needs.

Mercy Hospital offered to draft a Release of Information form that would cover both federal and state law for information sharing for purposes of looking at the VI-SPDAT. Gerry distributed the draft form and has asked people to review it to ensure the right entities are listed (click here).

Once we have this release form established and it gets implemented, we can start putting people into HomeLink (the campaign’s online registry tool).

The only items that will be shown at the REACH meetings are the name and the score. Other information will remain confidential.

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Leadership Council Meeting Minutes – 4/28/15

Leadership Council Meeting Minutes
April 28, 2015

In attendance: Father Stan Aksamit, Our Lady of Peace Parish, Jim Ayres, United Way of Hampshire County, Bonnie Caldwell, DHCD, Dave Christopolis, Hilltown CDC, Patricia Crosby, Franklin Hampshire Career Center, Ken Demers, BerkshireWorks, Sylvia deHaas-Phillips, Doreen Fadus, Mercy Medical Center, Health Care for the Homeless, Judge Robert Fields, Housing Court, United Way of Pioneer Valley, Joanne LaCour, DTA, Dave Gadaire, CareerPoint, Heidi Gold, Simtech Solutions, Brad Gordon, Berkshire Regional Housing Authority, Jen Hohn, City of North Adams, Steve Huntley, Valley Opportunity Council, Peg Keller, City of Northampton, Joan Kagan, Square One, Charlie Knight, consumer, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Andrea Miller, Waypoints Consulting, Bill Miller, Friends of the Homeless, Dave Modzelewski, REACH, Andrew Morehouse, Food Bank of Western Mass., Jerry Ray, Mental Health Association, Mary Reardon Johnson, YWCA, Megan Rhodes, Franklin Regional Council of Governments, George Ryan, Hampden County Regional Employment Board, Jay Sacchetti, ServiceNet, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Jim Sherbo, People’s Bank, Robin Sherman, Franklin Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority, Matt Simmonds, Simtech Solutions, Lynne Wallace, HAPHousing, Jennifer Wuest, Behavioral Health Network

Motion to approve minutes of January 21, 2015 Leadership Council meeting
Motion:: Charlie Knight
Seconded: Jen Hohn
Vote: All in favor with one abstention (Joanne LaCour)

Western Massachusetts Opening Doors Plan to End Homelessness:
Draft plan summary presented by Andrea Miller, Matt Simmonds and Heidi Gold
Please click here to review.

Comments:

Numbers on family homelessness are skewed in relation to national numbers due to our state’s right to shelter law – it creates a unique phenomenon

Our very low unsheltered population (as compared nationally) is a great success for our region, although it should also be noted our New England weather is a factor (makes it more difficult to sleep outside many months of the year).

Unaccompanied homeless youth are not showing up on baseline statistics but of course they are out there. HUD’s definition of homeless youth is so narrow that it misses many who should be counted. It’s also very difficult to “find” homeless youth when doing the Point in Time count. We have more to do around figuring out how to find and track population.

Do we track people moving from homeless to chronic homeless in terms of meeting the definition. HUD is changing the definition of “chronic” right now; this will have an impact on our count in due course.

Our solutions will be limited until we meet the shortage of affordable housing units.

This Plan and data tools are intended to maximize the investment made in housing so that the “right” people (those who are most in need) are occupying the available units.

There are other costs not measured strictly by housing need, e.g., dislocation of kids with multiple moves, health issues – the question is how expansive is the cost-benefit analysis, which is especially relevant in rural areas.

In order to provide complete baselines and tracking, we need to have access to DHCD data, which DHCD is not permitting at this point. We will continue to engage DHCD and HUD about this and seek a more workable solution with DHCD.

Most national trends demonstrate the rate of homelessness going down, but MA is going up. Why is that? With family homelessness, we can’t get the data to understand why we’re there.

This Plan is intended to educate all of us to say we need to understand where problems are to have an impact. At some point, the LC may say to the State it’s outrageous that we have so many hundreds of homeless families and we can’t get any data on them to understand how to get them into housing –

The Leadership Council has a role in trying to get performance measures at a high enough level so people who are not in the “homelessness” world can understand it and can pull out the largest pieces to determine what we can impact.

We know some communities have ended veteran homelessness. How have they done it? Can we do what they do? If not, why not? This Plan will give us a level of detail to push us to the necessary changes; to look at what we’re doing as a collective of agencies and how we can drive closer to our goal of ending homelessness.

We need to have housing subsidies and supportive services to make a lasting difference.

But we can measure how much is just enough assistance?

Homelessness is part of the larger problem of poverty – there are so many variables impacting what it will take to meet the problem of homelessness; it can be more difficult to measure

We will use our Network committees to wrestle with this. We need to hear from the ground what is necessary and can pursue the data needed to meaningful measure the work.

Community education is critical to the work – how do we combat the “not in my back yard” attitude that is pervasive. We are losing the PR battle where so many people think MA is a “chump” for having a right to shelter law. We need to educate and personalize the story of homelessness. Need to work on our messaging and framing.

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