Category Archives: Meeting Minutes

Family Services Committee Meeting Minutes – 6/14/16

Family Services Committee Meeting Minutes
June 14, 2016

In attendance: Steven Acevedo, NEFWC, Jane Banks, CHD, Bonnie Caldwell, DHCD, Hillary Cronin, VA, Jose Cruz, CHD, Juan Cruz, NEFWC, Yahaira Diaz, VOC, Anthia Elliott, Safe Passage, Jessica Garces, CHD, Allie Haber, Network, Jill Fijal, Chicopee Public Schools, Sean Hemingway, CHD, Fran Lemay, ServiceNet, Heather Marshall, Elizabeth Freeman House, Betty Miller, Valley Opportunity Council, Ita Mullarkey, DHCD, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Stephen Plummer, Springfield Partners, Jenni Pothier, TPP, Marisol Quinone, VOC, Jessica Quintana, WomanShelter, Liza Rios, YWCA, Josean Roldan, NEFWC, Eimy Santiago, VOC, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Twjana Williams, DHCD, Linda Vega, VOC, Luz Vega, WomanShelter, Lyia Vega, CHD, Janette Vigo, HAP, Lauren Voyer, HAP, Jennifer Wands, Springfield Public Schools, Erica Zayas, VOC

 Congratulations to Western MA Partners!

We devoted this meeting primarily to a celebration of the significant progress made this year in ending family homelessness in Western Massachusetts and statewide. Click here and here for data from DHCD (thanks to Deputy Undersecretary Rose Evans) that captures that progress: in Western MA, family homelessness in motels dropped 84% since last year (from 127 to 20 families today). We also welcomed from DHCD Ita Mullarky, Associate Director of the Division of Housing Stabilization, who shared more impact information resulting from this year’s innovations, including targeted funds for hard-to-house families and focus on the diversion effort at the front door. A year ago, the diversion rate hovered around 5-6%; by this year’s end, the diversion rate is 25% (and even higher in Western MA). She applauded the diversion and re-housing effort in Western MA, and in particular the thoughtful, skilled approach to understanding and meeting each family’s housing needs.

Ita shared that last year the state was contracting with 49 motels statewide; that number is down to 22 now and DHCD is looking to end all motels over this next year. Ita also noted that 100% of families entering the EA system in Springfield are staying in Springfield and that statewide 80% of families are placed within 20 miles of their community of origin. This is also a significant advance from last year.

Ita shared that DHCD is looking at implementing a pilot project in Brockton and Boston to focus on additional targeting of prevention resources. It will provide an opportunity to track the effectiveness of strategic interventions around prevention.

We also took time to hear personal stories of providers’ experiences working with families and what it meant to support them on their path to housing. Thanks to all who shared and inspired!

A special thanks to Jane Banks and Center for Human Development for their incredibly generous hosting, including a celebratory cake for all!here

FY17 State Budget Update:

Pamela provided an update on the FY17 state budget process: the budget is currently in Conference Committee with differences being hammered out between the House and Senate budgets. Relevant updates include:

  • Both budgets include the expansion of HomeBASE to include families living in domestic violence shelters, which means it will be included in the final budget. This is a huge victory! And our collaborative effort between DV and homelessness providers contributed to the success.
  • Secure Jobs is funded at 3x higher in the Senate budget ($1.5 million vs. $500,000). The group noted the remarkable success of the Western MA Secure Jobs program (more than doubled its FY16 goal of job placements!) and how important continued funding is to maintain this success. Advocate for the Senate provision!
  • The Local Consortiums are funded at $1 million in the Senate and not funded in the House. We need to advocate for the Senate version!
  • Unaccompanied Homeless Youth funding received $2 million in the Senate and $1 million in the House.

To learn more, go to the blog post at: http://westernmasshousingfirst.org/2016/06/alert-conference-committee-action-on-network-priorities/

 

Please contact your legislators and urge them to advocate with the Conference Committee for the Network priorities. To find your legislator go to: malegislature.gov

 

Next meeting date:

Due to summer vacation schedules (in particular Pamela’s), we will not be meeting in July. We will meet next on: Tuesday, August 9, 1:00 – 2:30 pm, CHD, 51 Capitol Drive, West Springfield

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting Minutes – 6/8/16

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee Meeting
June 8, 2016

 In attendance: Jesus Arce, City of Springfield, Dawn DiStefano, Square One, Lisa Goldsmith, DIAL/SELF, Allie Haber, Network, Natalie Kyles, Gandara Center, Kim Majewski, Gandara Center, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Evelyn Rivera, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Jean Rogers, CHD, Maria Vogel, Gandara Center

FY2017 state budget update:
Conference Committee meeting this week to resolve Senate and House budgets. Now is the time to contact legislators to urge their adoption of Senate version of youth funding ($2 million as opposed to House $1 million). See Pamela’s previous email alert or blog post for more information.

EOHHS Youth Services Grant Update:
Three County Region (Community Action):
Lisa reported that there were significant delays with EOHHS on finalizing contract. DIAL/SELF was likely to sign a sub-contract with Community Action today. It’s unclear how start-up will be impacted by next fiscal year’s budget uncertainties. The Consortium funding is underway but questions have arisen around eligibility and sustainability, which are being sorted out now.

Hampden County CoC:
Gerry reported that programs are underway. For the Consortium, HAP and Catholic Charities are providing rapid rehousing and prevention resources. These resources are complementing an already established infrastructure within each program which has made start-up very smooth. Catholic Charities will also be receiving $350,000 from the CoC for rapid rehousing which will augment the efforts happening now (or replace them depending on continued funding).

Gandara Center Youth Program Update:
3 young adults will have been placed in apartments by the end of this week with rapid rehousing funds. Program staff (currently 2.5) are busy conducting outreach to both youth (schools, colleges, other programs) and landlords. Relationship building is underway with Friends of the Homeless to put a smooth intake/assessment and referral process in place for young adults.

Conducting TAY-VI-SPDAT to assess vulnerability. It was agreed that it is important to track the number of youth scoring high in vulnerability (8 and above) in order to assess whether our current program capacity matches the level of need. In terms of the challenge of assessment, many teens do not know they suffer from a mental health or substance use issue, a real reflection and function of their youth. Frequently the “need for help” only emerges after engagement and then it’s a question of whether the young person is in a place to receive it.

Gandara is creating a list of all youth assessed, their vulnerability scores and prioritization. They are working with Friends of the Homeless to track youth there as well. They are also tracking the precise use of the flex funds (e..g, purchase of steel toe boots in order to take a job that required them) – an extremely valuable resource.

Gerry and Kim will follow-up together about ensuring data input is aligned with HMIS. We agreed it would be useful to have a standing report to bring to the youth committee meetings.

The Host Home component is still in process – have not yet found hosts but in process.

More on evaluation of performance measures:
Pamela shared a draft template (click here) that Simtech (consulting firm Hampden County CoC is using) for quarterly committee review of performance measures. Gerry provided context regarding HUD’s movement from singular provider performance review to whole system review: how is the system doing in ending homelessness. Towards that end, HUD is asking each CoC to report on specific performance measures. Chief among them are returns to homelessness and length of homelessness (in addition to # of people homeless at a given time; increase in overall income and earned income, e.g.,) Pamela also expressed interest in town of origin (prior to homelessness) and demographics such as age, race, etc.

The Network is supporting the CoCs in adopting performance measures tools and methods for review. The goal is for each Network committee to integrate this evaluation tool into their regular meetings. We will continue this conversation at our next meeting, after Gerry and Kim have a chance to meet.

Youth Count review:
What we would do differently: consider timing so that the count does not happen immediately after the seasonal shelters are closed or right at college finals time when students have either dispersed or are likely to be less responsive to outreach due to the focus on exams. Also consider how to engage more deeply with schools (per the various confidentiality constraints).

Next meeting:
Due to summer vacation schedules, we agreed to meet at an odd time:
Friday, July 8
9:30 – 11 am
Center for Human Development
51 Capital Drive, West Springfield

Individual Services Meeting Minutes – 6/2/16

Individual Services Meeting
June 2, 2016

 In attendance: Elizabeth Bienz, ServiceNet, Allison Brown, Amherst Community Connection, Steve Connor, Veterans Services, Wendy Coco, Commonwealth Care, Jen Glover, Lifepath/FCHCC, Allie Haber, Network, Hwei-Ling Greeney, Amherst Community Connection, Chris Hughes, ServiceNet, Peg Keller, City of Northampton, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS – Homeless Services, Jade Lovett, Craigs Doors, Kim Majewski, Gandara Center, Gleidy Maria, Catholic Charities, Patty McDonnell, SMOC, Dave Modzelewski, Network, Mark Watkins, Gandara Center

Seasonal shelter reports and updates:

Cot Shelter, Northampton (Nov 1 to April 30):
Total sheltered: 207 individuals, 158 men, 49 women
60% ages 26-40
17% ages 41-55
15% ages 56-70
8% ages 18-25

Geographic breakdown:
Northampton – 24%
Springfield – 23%
Holyoke – 10%
other Hampden – 9%
Greenfield – 4%
Amherst and Easthampton – 3%
Other Hampshire – 4%
Out of area – 7%

On the last day of shelter (4/30), there were 10 individuals, 2 went to Grove Street Shelter, remainder went outside or are unknown

Craig’s Doors, Amherst (Nov 1 to April 30):
Total sheltered: 214; 170 men; 44 women
average 10 women per night
Majority of guests ages 35-44
20 people over 55
14 people under 25
Race: 56% White; 18% Latino; 14% African American
On average, every night:
52% struggled with mental health issues
35% struggled with substance use issues
26% struggled with both
Trends: increasing population of aging guests; greater influx of guests from Springfield/Holyoke area
Jade offered to obtain a more detailed breakdown of town of origin for Craig’s Doors.

Friends of the Homeless, Springfield:
Bill Miller reported via email that for the month of May the shelter averaged 160 people per night. Highest May ever. Unclear why .

There was some discussion about if/how the Network should approach Holyoke and other Hampden County communities regarding their local shelter needs. Outreach has occurred by Northampton to Holyoke but without results so far. The complexity of this challenge was named – the tension with Housing First , more pressure on lower-income communities . We will continue to discuss.

Barton’s Crossing cot shelter, Pittsfield:
Erin Forbush: will provide exact data but could estimate now that roughly 150 individuals were sheltered during the season. 17 people were sheltered when the season ended; some went on wait list for permanent shelter bed; others decided to camp.

Amherst shelter/town/business relations:
We discussed recent local media that has drawn attention to the spike in police involvement with individuals residing at Craig’s Doors.   Meetings are underway with the Amherst Police Department and shelter staff to problem-solve. Training of police officers to avoid de-escalation is also underway. Amherst police captain is very amenable to problem-solving. Craig’s Doors is engaging in public education campaign around the complexity of the population – that homelessness is a symptom of larger problems. The fact that the altercations involve almost exclusively “out of town” guests adds to the challenge. Many expressed the concern over maintaining a behaviorally based shelter (as opposed to creating a barrier of no substance use); that coordination, communication and education are key.   The Network will participate where possible and useful, e.g, attend meetings and/or write a letter to the editor.

Continue reading

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
Recommendation:

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 (waltf@springfieldpartnersinc.com). 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