Individual Homelessness Committee Meeting
October 6, 2016
In attendance: Elizabeth Bienz, ServiceNet, Brittany Billmeyer-Finn, Franklin Resource Center, Carl Cignoni, Hampshire Sheriffs Office, DOC Reentry Services, Steve Connor, Veterans Services, Toni Dolan, Veterans Services, Charlie Knight, former consumer, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS Homeless Services, Kim Majewski, Gandara Center, Terry Maxes, SMOC, Scott McAllister, Veterans Services, Patty McDonnell, SMOC, Dave Modzelewski, Network, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Sarah Tanner, Friends of the Homeless
Hampden County CoC:
Sarah Tanner reported on Bill Miller’s attendance at a Zero 2016 conference that both celebrated the progress towards ending homelessness and examined best practices as they would apply to ending individual chronic homelessness. There was focus on coordinated entry and the use of by-name lists and Friends of the Homeless is continuing to participate in brainstorming and planning sessions. The campaign will rename itself from Zero 2016 (the year will pass soon!) to Build for Zero (unanimous approval!).
Friends of the Homeless is implementing its coordinated entry system now. It recently posted for 2 job positions as housing navigators, examining best system for access (looking at a 1-800 number, e.g.,).
Dave Modzelewski reported that REACH is meeting twice monthly in Hampden County and will be using one of those meetings to zero in on the hardest to serve individuals. He also noted the challenge of acquiring the necessary documentation (and putting it into the Homelink data base) to verify that an individual is chronically homeless (especially under HUD’s new definition). The CoC is working with the police department and hospitals to build systems for documenting conditions. Dave noted that follow-up with HUD on these barriers would be useful (Pamela will follow-up with Gerry on this).
Three County CoC:
Steve Connor announced the 3 County CoC Veterans Training, 10/20, 3-4:30, Northampton Senior Center and Berkshire Regional Housing Authority in Pittsfield; this is aimed at frontline staff and volunteers of organizations that may intersect with veterans (from libraries to food pantries, e.g.) and provide information and education about how best to direct veterans to appropriate services
On coordinated assessment: The 3 County CoC has chosen to pilot a version of the AZ Matrix tool for their assessment tool (as opposed to the VI-SPDAT). This tool, shorter with arguably a more trauma informed care approach than the VI-SPDAT, is being piloted by Eliot Homeless Services and ServiceNet (in the Berkshires), as well as by providers in Amherst. Assessments will be submitted to Andrea Miller, the 3 county data analyst. We will await more information around timeline for review and timeline for the pilot. The group agreed that using 2 different assessment tools across the region affords an opportunity to compare the utility of each and refer to the other if one produces a score that does not seem consistent with the individual’s vulnerability. It remains to be determined whether the 3 County by-name list review will take place within REACH meetings or through ServiceNet provider meetings.
Marianne Winters, executive director of Safe Passage, provided the group with a brief training on protecting confidentiality when assisting a person in housing crisis who has suffered domestic violence. Please click here for the materials that were distributed and contain a breakdown of the basic concepts covered.
The group acknowledged the tension of wanting to provide relevant information (e.g., geographical location, family size) in search of a housing solution but affirmed the critical importance (as well as legality) of protecting all identifying information. This is especially vital when domestic abuse is involved.
The training confirmed the following principles and protocol:
- No identifying information should ever be sent out over email. This is especially critical for the Network as it communicates with hundreds of people on various email lists. The group email list should never be used to problem solve individual housing crises. Please feel free to email Pamela individually, without identifying information, regarding a request for assistance and Pamela will assist in providing the appropriate referral.
- The right to privacy belongs to each person; our responsibility is to protect that right.
- The Violence Against Women Act sets out very clear parameters, e.g., only aggregate, non-personally identifying information may be released.
- Very explicit, legally verifiable releases of information are necessary to release any personal information.
- Safe Passage is available for phone calls for consultation around emergency housing issues. Please contact: Anthia Elliott – 413.586.1125, firstname.lastname@example.org or our 24/7 hotline – 413.586.3742
RAFT is now available on a pilot basis to individuals via each regional housing authority. Jay asked for the appropriate contact at HAP. Pamela will find out and report back to the group.
Network Update: Pamela reported that the Network is still waiting for its contract from DHCD and was advised that it must wait until revenue figures are in for the third quarter to determine whether 9C cuts are required (the Network as an earmark would be vulnerable). Pamela will keep everyone posted.
Next meeting: November 3, 10:30-noon, Friends of the Homeless