Category Archives: Meeting Minutes

Individual Services Meeting Minutes – 8/4/16

Individual Services Meeting
August 4, 2016

In attendance: Erin Forbush, ServiceNet, Jen Glover, Life Path, Allie Haber, Network, Dave Havens, Mental Health Association, John Hornik, Amherst Housing and Shelter Committee, Peg Keller, City of Northampton, Charlie Knight, former consumer, Patricia McDonnell, SMOC, Dave Modzelewski, Shirley Rodriguez, Celtic Care Health Plan, Network, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Sarah Tanner, Friends of the Homeless, Lynn White, HRU, Rebekah Wilder, Craig’s Doors

FY17 State Budget Update: Pamela reported on the FY17 budget outcomes in relation to the Network priorities (click here for summary). In terms of individual services priorities:

  • The individual shelter bed rate did not increase to $30/night. Instead ,there was a very small increase in the funding line-item to individual shelters.
  • RAFT eligibility was expanded to include a small pilot project amount ($500,000) allocated to disabled individuals, the elderly and unaccompanied homeless youth. (required a legislative override of the Governor’s veto)
  • The Network was funded for an additional year at $125,000 (and required a legislative override of the Governor’s veto).
  • Additional overrides that were not initially included in the Network priorities but became priorities due to the Governor’s vetoes included Craig’s Doors (Amherst shelter) and Berkshire prevention and shelter funds. Both are intact thanks to the legislature’s overrides.
  • Tenancy Preservation Project (TPP) was level funded at $500,000
  • Unaccompanied homeless youth received $1m in FY17 and will receive an additional $1m through FY16 carryover (once supplemental budget is passed), so essentially level-funded.
  • Local consortiums – which provided prevention and re-housing funds for both individuals and families – were not funded in the FY17 budget. However, the Governor has allocated $1 million in funding (which would make it level to FY16) in a supplemental budget that has not yet been voted on so there is reason to be hopeful.

In light of the lower-than-anticipated state revenues for FY17, the region (and State) did well overall in the funding of its priorities. 9C cuts (mid-year cuts imposed by the Governor) are especially threatening this year in view of the fiscal constraints.

We also shared the acknowledgment of our Western MA legislative delegation’s tremendous support of our efforts. We encouraged sending notes of thanks to Senate President Rosenberg and House Ways and Means Vice-Chair Stephen Kulik and your own senator and representative. Find contact info https://malegislature.gov/People/Search

Friends of the Homeless Update: Sarah Tanner of FOH announced that FOH and Clinical & Support Options (CSO) have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding to merge operations. The process is currently in the due diligence phase. FOH will stay the same in its services and leadership; the exciting opportunity with the merger is the addition of expanded on-site mental health and other support services to its shelter guests.  They hope to complete the merger by the end of 2016.

Debrief on Amherst Forum on Homelessness

Thanks to John Hornik of the Amherst Housing and Shelter Committee for attending our meeting and for organizing the forum. He noted that attendance far exceeded his expectations (estimated 130 in attendance). There were good presentations by speakers and then 5 break-out groups to discuss specific topics, e.g., outreach, day services, etc. Pamela can forward John’s notes on the break-out group discussions to anyone interested (please let her know).

People at our meeting who attended the forum (Rebekah, Peg, Sarah, Allie) also shared their experiences. All acknowledged the tension in the room regarding consumer representation on the panel. One consumer spoke at the end and he was very hostile and attacking in his talk, which contributed to the intensity of the evening. Sarah described the evening as “positive intensity;” Peg described it as “provocative.”

Everyone acknowledged the critical importance of hearing from consumers to better understand their challenges and needs. Determining the best vehicle for obtaining that representation is also challenging but something that must be addressed on a local level.

Peg also spoke on behalf of the whole group to thank John for his work on making this forum happen. “A very brave thing to do” to create a community-wide opportunity to stare at this challenge and open everyone up to the difficulty and frustration experienced by many.

John welcomed input on next steps. The Committee agreed that the most important next step would be the creation of a coordinating group similar to what exists in Northampton and Springfield that is made up of all the key partners: the Town leaders – police, fire, etc. – Craig’s Doors, Eliot Services, business leader and anyone else they deem appropriate. This group should establish a regular meeting schedule that affords the opportunity to build relationships, strategies and trouble-shoot as needed. The Network will continue to make itself available to support this effort as needed.

John distributed a draft directory of Amherst services and resources related to homelessness. Feedback is welcome (Pamela will send this to the whole group for review and feedback shortly). Feedback can go to John directly at jhornik123@gmail.com.

Other updates:

  • Erin Forbush updated that ServiceNet shelters are all full with wait lists. ServiceNet received a 3 year SAMHSA grant – one of 25 in the nation – to provide mental health and housing services. Great news!
  • Shirley Rodriguez of Celticare Health joined us today. Based in Waltham, MA but serving the state, she wanted to let us know that any consumers who have Celticare insurance coverage are entitled to support services through its insurance program. For more information, contact Shirley at 617-779-5120 or a.rodriguezacevado@centene.com

Network mapping project:

Peg informed everyone of the Network’s upcoming “mapping project” to be conducted by an interim steering committee made up of executive directors from cross-section of agencies from across the four counties. The agenda is to revisit the multiple meeting demands – from Network to CoCs to Consortiums to WMIC – and map how best and most efficiently meet the goal of ending homelessness in the region. We will keep everyone posted of the project’s progress as it unfolds.

Next meeting date: Thursday, September 1, 10:30-noon, Friends of the Homeless, Springfield

Secure Jobs Advisory Committee Meeting – 7/5/16

Secure Jobs Advisory Committee
July 5, 2016

In attendance: Ashley Brehm, HAPHousing, Bud Delphin, CareerPoint, Ken Demers, BerkshireWorks, Dave Gadaire, CareerPoint, Allie Haber, Network, Lisa Lapierre, Franklin Hampshire Career Center, Bill Mulholland, Berkshire Community College, Maegan Pedemonit, HAPHousing, George Ryan, Hampden County REB, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Maricelli Serrano, BerkshireWorks, Representative Aaron Vega, Pamela Wojtkowski, BerkshireWorks

Celebrating Secure Jobs Success:

In FY16, the program placed 120 heads of households into jobs, well over double the contract goal of 54 (and the best in the State!). The program also experienced a 93% retention rate. Click here for the progress report. FANTASTIC WORK. We celebrated with cake and a toast to the extraordinary effort with extraordinary results!

In terms of data analysis, Brandeis University will be retained by the Fireman Foundation for the first 6 months of this new fiscal year to finalize a data report.

Rep. Vega inquired about the data reflecting the relationship between these job placements and housing stability. The group agreed that this is a vital indicator of the program’s success. Ashley said Brandeis will be looking at this statewide; also HAP has just established its own database to be able to better track this data (among other indicators) internally. We should see reports from this database in the coming months.

FY17 State Budget Update:

We reviewed the final result of this year’s state budget that funded Secure Jobs statewide at $800,000. This is less than half of what is necessary to keep the program whole. Each program will experience significant cuts although the exact amount is unclear based on the number of programs that are able to continue under the current funding. Fortunately, HAP is able to allocate funds internally to keep their staff in place. The current unknown is the amount of flexible funds that will be available (which everyone acknowledged are critical to the program’s success). Also, HAP will no longer be sub-contracting with CareerPoint as a partner in the program.

Bud and Dave at CareerPoint pointed out that while the new WIOA law notes that attention should be given to several targeted groups, including homeless job-seekers, there are no special funds allocated for those services.  As always, homeless individuals will be welcome to access resources, workshops and other services provided by CareerPoint and the other career centers, but to be enrolled in WIOA, homeless participants must meet a number of eligibility requirements and must compete with other job seekers who  want to access very limited training funds or intensive career counseling services. At CareerPoint, homeless participants  will be provided as much support as is possible, but unfortunately they cannot receive the in-depth SJ services provided during the past several years.

Ashley also shared that HAP is pursuing SNAP matching dollars to support the program. They just submitted an application and are waiting to hear back.

Lisa of Franklin/Hampshire Career Center noted the value of serving families in Franklin/Hampshire County and asked HAP to consider that possibility again. We agreed that from a Network perspective the cross-regional support has tremendous value; we also noted that the issue is outcomes in the face of reduced funding for the program as a whole. HAP and FHCC will keep talking.

Ken of Berkshire Works noted that they are in the middle of conversations with HAP about HAP’s continued support of the Berkshire program. Berkshire Works has just hired Maricella Serrano to serve as the Secure Jobs staff person and Pamela Wojtkowski is in the process of training her.

Next meeting: Tuesday, September 6, 11 am – 12:15 pm, HCC, Frost Building 309.

Systems Performance Measures!

Finally our regional homeless service systems are being required to report upon system-wide outcomes: Who is staying too long in shelter, and why? Who becomes homeless again, even after living in a stable housing situation? Who is entering the CoC system for the first time? Most importantly: how can we use this information to guide our practices and improve our outcomes in order to end homelessness once and for all?

We’ll be working with you all over the next few months to figure this out. We’ll rely upon your knowledge and insight to craft our understanding and define our goals. We’ll need your feedback in order to devise ongoing reporting processes and monitoring forms. We’ll seek input from those who are most impacted – and pay them for their time – since insider knowledge will advance our work by leaps and bounds. We’ll recruit skilled consultants to help.

Please email us with your ideas and creative comments! Meanwhile, please review the system-level outcomes that we are required to report upon, and let us know how they advance our goals and how they fall short. Your feedback is important: We want & need to do this right.

Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes – 6/24/16

Veterans Committee Meeting
June 24, 2016

In attendance: Beth Barbra, Veterans Inc., Toni Dolan, Veterans Services, Allie Haber, Network, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Katherine Person, Veterans Inc., Denise Rivera, Friends of the Homeless, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Kate Sweetster-Owens, VA, Sabrina Willard, Springfield Partners Inc., DonYbarra, Springfield Partners

Action Camp Summary

The group discussed the Hampden County CoC’s Action Camp through the Zero 2016 campaign to address veteran and chronic homelessness. The Camp took place over 2 days, from 6/20-6/21, and it was a huge step towards developing a very concrete work plan. Areas of focus included:

  • Completing VI-SPDATs for 50 chronically homeless people and 10 veterans
  • Outreach: identifying gaps and making a plan to close them
  • Case Conferencing: how to structure REACH and other meetings (rotating complex cases with general housing match meetings)
  • Housing Navigators: how to sort out the assignment process and organizational buy-in (Gerry is meeting with executive directors)

The Hampden County CoC is implementing the tool Homelink to assist with tracking individuals on a by-name list and providing coordinated entry – tracking assessments, collecting documents and following their path from homelessness to housing through a housing navigator.

We discussed the specific challenges of serving veterans through this system. In view of the relatively small number, we agreed that providers would determine which meetings to attend on a case-by-case basis (when a veteran was involved). We agreed that the focus would be on veterans on the street or in shelter (as opposed to doubled-up).

Three County Coc:

The 3 County Coc met just yesterday to review their by-name list.   Meetings of providers are happening bi-weekly and substantial progress is being made.

VA Privacy Guidance on Authority to Make Disclosures:  We discussed the most recent notice from the VA regarding the capacity to discuss individual cases with community partners in the context of solving housing crises.  Please click here for the guidance.

Next meeting:
Friday, September 23
9 am – 10:30 am
Northampton Senior Center
67 Conz Street, Northampton

We will discuss at this meeting whether we move to a quarterly schedule to check-in on policy matters and overall regional progress; that now that CoC’s are developing their by-name lists, most of the work is taking place on a sub-regional level. We want to make sure we are not duplicating meeting time and effort. This evolution is a reflection of great progress in each CoC. Congratulations to all for the great work.