Category Archives: Individual Services Committee

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.

Continue reading

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)

Individual Services Meeting Minutes – 4/14/16

Individual Services Meeting Minutes
April 14, 2016

In attendance: Jane Braaen, Amherst Community Connections, Erin Forbush, ServiceNet, Hwei-Ling Greeney, Amherst Community Connections , Michael LaMothe, consumer, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Katie Miernecki, ServiceNet, David Modzelewski, Network, Terry Maxey, Open Door, Jennifer Schmitt, Craig’s Doors, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Lynn White, HRU, Rebekah Wilder, Craig’sDoors

Special Presentation on SNAP policy changes impact Able Bodied Adults Without Dependents( (ABAWDs): We enjoyed a presentation by Jayna Mistry of UMass on the policy changes impacting ABAWDs’ access to SNAP. Please  click here for the powerpoint presentation. Thank you to Jayna, her colleague Shannon, and Lauren Arms-Ledwith of DTA for this learning opportunity.

Three County Update:
Jay Levy reported that there has been good progress in the implementation of the veterans by-name list to facilitate housing matches for homeless veterans. For non-veterans, progress is underway in the development of a vulnerability assessment tool to be used across the sub-region, specifically the use of the AZ Matrix Tool. The REACH meetings will be used to share results from the assessments and prioritize housing resources. Right now, Andrea is looking into linkages between HMIS and this tool to see if unduplicated data entry is possible. We agreed that it will be interesting to compare the use of the VI-SPDAT in Hampden County with the AZ Matrix tool in the 3 county area. Jay described the AZ tool as a more trauma informed care approach to engagement; also quicker and easier to use.

Hampden County Update:

  • Still focused on Homelink implementation. At next week’s REACH meeting we will have a first early use of it as we review who is on the by-name list.
  • Also moving forward on implementation of EOHHS grant–programs to start in the next two weeks
  • We are getting TA from Zero 2016 related to using our By-Name List to better understand inflow/outflow and how many PSH units/placements we need
  • Police/BHN street outreach is still happening regularly (twice a week) which has given us a much deeper understanding of our unsheltered population
  • Youth Count coming up 5/2-5/15 – would like to solicit volunteers to help with outreach since population includes 18-24 year olds and crosses over with general shelter population

Continue reading