Category Archives: Individual Services Committee

Individual Services Committee Meeting Minutes – 9/1/16

Individual Services Committee Meeting Minutes – 9/1/16

 In attendance: Nichole Bodiford, Friends of the Homeless, Steve Connor, Veterans Services, Toni Dolan, Veterans Services, John Hornik, Amherst Housing and Sheltering Committee, Todd Koniezhny, Next Step/Lighthouse, Jay Levy, Eliot Services, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield/Hampden CoC, Gleidy Maria, Patty McDonnell, SMOC, Catholic Charities, Dave Modzelewski, Network, Luz Ortiz, Friends of the Homeless, Christina Ruest, Friends of the Homeless, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Mark Watkins, Gandara Center, Paulett Webster, Lighthouse/HRU

Review of Hampden County CoC FY17 Workplan for Chronically Homeless

Click here for workplan.

Gerry McCafferty reviewed and updated the committee on the 6 strategies:

  1. Complete VI-SPDAT on every chronically homeless person in Hampden County:
    good progress being made; hospitals involved, outreach to food pantries, integration into Friends of the Homeless systems; estimates 60-80% of CH individuals are screened. Discovered through outreach efforts with the police department and BHN that there were more homeless individuals than previously aware who were not accessing shelter, although still in process of assessing who is chronically homeless. The by-name list is being built and the tracking of who is being housed and where is underway.
  1. Create and implement outreach plan: this effort is also well underway with the integration of hospitals and police and the continual outreach to other points of access for CH individuals. Most striking thing learned is that HMIS is not the most significant resource for identifying CH individuals but other points of contact instead (e.g., high-end utilizers of health services).
  1. Use REACH meetings to further housing outcomes: This clarified focus of the REACH meetings has happened; now the focus is on outreach to ensure that widest possible net exists for identifying individuals, assessing their needs and finding best housing placements.
  1. Increase the number of units available to CH individuals – Gerry announced that the CoC as part of its NOFA application is submitting an application from Friends of the Homeless for 15 new scattered site units for CH individuals. MHA is determining the number of CSPECH units to be created this year; Springfield Housing Authority is adding more units to his CH project-based voucher program. Gerry is also meeting with other housing authorities to encourage them to use vouchers for the “moving on” program, allowing for a freeing-up of PSH units.
  2. Improve navigation/case management to increase housing placement: this process is underway.
  1. Improve non-PSH housing placements: This process is also underway.

Gerry welcomed committee members additional review and feedback (please email her at: GMcCafferty@springfieldcityhall.com). Immediate committee feedback noted the great progress on outreach and the promise of additional PSH units to meet the consequences of it.

3 County CoC Update:

Dave Christopolis was at a conference so unable to attend. Jay Levy offered the update that the 3 County’s coordinated assessment tool is in its pilot phase and is going well with ServiceNet and Eliot Services using the tool (an adaptation of the AZ Matrix tool). Their work plan is in process; the larger challenge in developing the by-name list is the large geography and where to locate the housing match conversations (presumably requiring sub-groups based in each county).

The group discussed the challenge of verifying chronic homelessness, especially if the individuals cross CoC lines. Gerry shared her strategies of recording the dates police or BHN interacted with homeless individual in the community as a basis for verifying homelessness. She also noted that if the individual is in the HMIS system, each CoC could generate a letter verifying dates in shelter and share that information across the CoC.

Veteran housing update:

Steve Connor provided a brief update on housing availability:

The 44 units in Leeds are filled (single men, most units are HUD/VASH)
Most of the Chicopee units are filled; Agawam construction is underway. Bilingual veterans center is having a hard time filling slots.

Amherst update:

John Hornik summarized the latest developments:

  • Production of the Amherst resources directory (previously distributed and available on the blog)
  • Distribution of candidates’ for Amherst House of Rep seat (Rep. Ellen Story’s position) positions on homelessness.  Click here
  • Commitment by Town of Amherst to create a coordinating group around homelessness services

The committee saluted the progress of this initiative and John’s leadership in making it happen.

Statewide CoC Advocacy Update

Gerry McCafferty provided an update on the statewide organizing effort to advocate to HUD for changes in the CoC program. Click here for summary of advocacy effort. Recommendations include the creation of a CoC advisory committee, changing to a multi-year application, rewarding higher performing CoCs with 5 year renewals and target lower performing CoCs with TA; simplify and streamline data reporting.

Gerry welcomed committee feedback prior to bringing the issue to her own CoC board for discussion.   Gerry noted that the advocacy is being driven by HUD’s funding cuts to many of MA’s CoC’s. The City of Springfield has not experienced those cuts and actually receives bonus funds each year as a result of scoring very highly in the competition. She is trying to ascertain the appropriate role of the Hampden County CoC in this effort. Gerry raised the question of whether HUD is pushing for change that gets us all closer to the outcomes we seek and whether annual review is valuable to ensure maximum attention to performance outcomes.   Due to a lack of time, we agreed we would return to the discussion of this effort at our next meeting.

Network mapping process and committee input: Due to lack of time, this agenda item will be taken up at our next meeting.

Next meeting date: Thursday, October 6, 9:30-11 am, Northampton

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

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.

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Individual Services Minutes – May 5, 2016

Individual Services Meeting
May 5, 2016

In attendance: Troy Brin, Veterans Inc., Nichole Bodiford, Friends of the Homeless, Steve Connors, Veterans Services, Clare Deucher, SOAR, Toni Dolan, Veterans Services, Courtnee Godbolt, Friends of the Homeless, Janice Humason, Friends of the Homeless, Tony Koniezhny, Clubhouse, Michael LaMothe, public speaker (former consumer), Jay Levy, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Gleidy Maria, Catholic Charities Terry Maxey, SMOC, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Patty McDonald, SMOC, Bill Miller, Friends of the Homeless, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Luz Ortiz, Friends of the Homeless, Katherine Person, Veterans Inc, Evelyn Rivera, Eliot Homeless, Laura Robertson, Catholic Charities, Christina Ruest, Friends of the Homeless, Joe Schroeter, Eliot CHS, Jennifer Schmitt, Craig’s Doors, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Delphine Wray, Friends of the Homeless

FY17 State Budget Update:

The House Budget was voted upon last week with mixed results. The Network’s priority to increase the shelter bed rate to $30/night did not make it in. The Senate budget will be released in the next couple of weeks and we will continue to advocate for its inclusion.

Additionally, the newly created Consortiums (for coordinated entry and prevention funds) was not funded. And the youth housing/services component was funded at $1 million instead of the necessary $2 million. Advocacy will continue in the Senate budget.

EOHHS Consortium and Youth Programs Update:

Gerry reported that these newly funded programs are up and running in Hampden County. Catholic Charities is focused on funding individuals with rental assistance and arrears, etc. HAP is focused primarily on funding families.

The Hampden County youth program is being run by the Gandara Center. They will provide up to a full year of housing subsidy and will also provide emergency housing through host homes (a la short-term foster care).

These programs are budgeted through the end of this fiscal year but it is expected to continue into next year as well.

Three County (via Community Action) is currently finalizing its contract with EOHHS.

CoC funding awards:

HUD announced its Tier 2 funding awards and our entire region fared very well (especially relative to the rest of the State and the nation’s CoC’s). Only 5% of all CoCs across the country received bonus funds and Hampden County was one of them. Congratulations to all! The new Hampden County CoC bonus projects include rapid rehousing money for youth (via Gandara’s SHINE program, allowing continuity of programming from the state youth funding) and longer-term rapid-re-housing (assistance up to 2 years) via Catholic Charities.

HUD registration for next year’s CoC round is already starting.

Homelink Update:

This is an online system that Hampden County is adopting to connect chronically homeless and unsheltered individuals and veterans to Permanent Supportive Housing. Training is underway and it will be incorporated as part of the Hampden County REACH meetings. Signing of Memorandum of Understanding, in conjunction with Release of Information, is underway and will allow providers to discuss each individual to ensure best housing match while protecting confidentiality.

Zero 2016 campaign:

The Zero 2016 campaign has offered to come into Hampden County to do an action camp for 1.5 days to focus on improving the system to make re-housing efforts more successful more quickly. Stay tuned for more details.

Jerry Ray retiring: party at Sam’s Tavern on May 5

Gerry invited everyone to celebrate Jerry Ray’s retirement (and his 22 years of extraordinary contributions to the effort of ending homelessness) at Sam’s Tavern on May 5 (tonight!), 5-7 pm. MHSA is also honoring him on May 12 in Boston. Please join us in thanking Jerry!

Youth Count and Survey:

The statewide youth count and survey (for 18-24 unaccompanied youth, including parents) is taking place right now, from 5/2-5/15; please contact Gandara Center for Hampden and Dial/SELF for 3 County to obtain surveys.

Three County Update:

The veterans committee is continuing to work on its by-name list.
The CoC is receiving some great support from TAC (Technical Assistance Collaborative)to help develop its governance structure and systems.

The group is preparing to launch the pilot of its vulnerability assessment tool (May 13), based on AZ Matrix tool. Will assess results and also continue to work out the individualized input (within a group context) regarding an assessment score. They are also exploring how to integrate the tool into HMIS data collection, although this is very complicated to do.

Special Presentation: Clare Deucher, SOAR Project ( SSI/SSDI Outreach Access and Recovery)

Clare is working under a one year SAMHSA grant (ends Sept. 30) to promote use of SOAR. Go to the SOAR blog post here  for detailed information on the program.

The goal is to integrate SOAR practice into agencies. Clare is looking for liaisons to get trained on a “team” who in turn can provide consultation to other team members. It would be ideal to find a local leader for SOAR here in Western MA, and one in particular targeted to serve veterans. Please contact Clare at cmdeucher@gmail.com

Next meeting 6/2, 9:30 -11, Northampton (Northampton Senior Center)