Category Archives: Individual Services Committee

Individual Services Meeting Minutes – 4/2/15

Individual Services Committee
April 2, 2015

In attendance: Elizabeth Bienz, ServiceNet, Jennifer Glover, Franklin County Home Care Corporation, Hwei-Ling Greeney, Amherst Community Connection, Todd Koniezhny, HRU/The Lighthouse, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Katie Miernecki, ServiceNet, Andrea Miller, Network/Three County CoC, Bill Miller, Friends of the Homeless, Dave Modzelewski, Network, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Claudia Phillips, Health Care for the Homeless, Lynn White, HRU

The Western Mass. Opening Doors Plan:
Pamela introduced the meeting with an overview of the Network’s effort, in conjunction with the Hampden County and Three County CoCs, to develop a localized version of the US Opening Doors Plan to End Homelessness, which sets forth the goal of ending veteran homelessness by 2016, chronic homelessness by 2017 and family homelessness by 2020. Andrea Miller is consulting on this project (with the lead consultant Simtech) and attended today’s meeting to share some of the tools that are available and collect feedback on them.

Andrea provided an overview of the Supportive Housing Opportunities Planner (“SHOP”) that allows regions to plan for the number of permanent housing units required in the region through a calculation involving the Point In Time count and the number of permanent housing beds currently available. Please see the SHOP attachment provided by Andrea from the HUD website. Andrea also provided our CoC’s numbers as a basis for discussion and review. Finally, an overview of the tool is also available on US ICH’s website: http://usich.gov/population/chronic/supportive-housing-opportunities-planner-shop-tool.

Andrea also provided an overview of a new tool produced by the Zero 2016 campaign, a national campaign of which the Hampden County CoC is a participating partner, whose goal is to end veteran homelessness by 2015 and chronic homelessness by 2016. HomeLink is a very exciting tool that will allow providers to track an individual from homelessness to housing, incorporating their VI-SPDAT score as a basis for prioritization. Andrea demonstrated the tool with their video, which can be viewed here:

Homelink Navigator Training Video

Homelink Navigator User Guide

We also discussed how this tool can be integrated into our own region’s Housing Options Tool. A smaller committee will be meeting on this topic later today and will report back.

The Hampden County CoC is integrating HomeLink into its efforts now. It is also working on the release of information forms to ensure such integration is possible. We will report back on that aspect at the next meeting as well.

The group was very engaged by what this level of tracking and data analysis could provide our region. Everyone agreed to continue this discussion and provide ongoing input to the process as part of our committee work.

Legislative Advocacy:

Pamela reported on the series of meetings the Network is having with our region’s legislators to advocate for the Network’s budget priorities, which include increasing the bed unit rate for individual emergency shelters. Bill Miller clarified that he thinks it would be most strategic to emphasize the issue of parity since Western Mass. shelters 13% of the homeless population statewide and only receives 7% of the funding. Increasing the unit rate to $32/night – the state average – would be one way to do this (FOH is currently receiving $25/night). ServiceNet and Samaritan Inn would also benefit from this approach. Pamela will continue to stress these points in upcoming legislative meetings.

Next meeting: Thursday, May 7, 10:30-noon, Friends of the Homeless, 755 Worthington Street, Springfield

Individual Services Meeting Minutes – 3/5/15

Individual Services Committee
March 5, 2015

In attendance: Matt Castleman, SMOC, Tanisha Collins, Friends of the Homeless, Jonathan DeMars, Friends of the Homeless, Erin Forbush, ServiceNet, Todd Koniezhny, HRU, Janice Humason, Friends of the Homeless, Nichole King, Friends of the Homeless, Charlie Knight, consumer, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Patty McDonnell, SMOC, Katie Miernecki, ServiceNet, David Modzelewski, Network, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Claudia Phillips, Health Care for the Homeless, Jerry Ray, Mental Health Association, Denise Rivera, Friends of the Homeless, Laura Saponare, Catholic Charities, Pamela Schwartz, Network; plus special guests from Father Bill’s and MainSpring

Zero 2016 campaign: Gerry McCafferty provided an update on the campaign. Shared the “take down targets” based on the campaign’s formula that estimates the number of homeless to anticipate in 2015 (using 2014 PIT count as basis) and therefore how many homeless veterans we need to house each month. This goal of “zero homelessness” factors in that there will always be some new homeless veterans/individuals coming into the system; the definition of success is becoming re-housed within 30 days. Every month data will be pulled from HMIS and follow-up will occur to help ensure a complete count of who got housed on a monthly basis.

Hampden County has a total of 110 individuals/veterans it will need to house by the end of 2015/16. Currently, there are 33 veterans in the system, 16 in transitional housing programs, 17 in shelter (many at the Rescue Mission). It will be especially challenge to get veteran homeless population down to zero due to the high number of Grant Per Diem (GPD) beds (transitional housing) in the area. We also discussed the additional challenge of housing veterans who are not eligible for veteran services.

The next step is assigning “housing navigators” to these homeless individuals. This can be especially challenging when there are people who are barely tied to the system with minimal interaction. It will take one-on-one engagement to move these people forward in housing.

The campaign is offering trainings on the VI-SPDAT. Gerry will send out the information to the group. She will also include information on a documentary on homelessness to be aired on WGBY in late March which highlights the 100,000 Homes Campaign and its success in NM.

Springfield ESG grant planning: Gerry confirmed that she sent out a survey around ESG grant planning. She is interested in hearing feedback about how to allocate the additional $20K the City is receiving, specifically whether to use it to support the hire of an outreach worker and/or to support medium-term rapid re-housing with longer subsidy support (closer to 12 months of assistance).

We also discussed the possibility of the housing subsidy being tied to enrollment in the Secure Jobs program, i.e., better chance of long-term sustainability with employment support.

The RFP will be released on 3/18, due 4/15. Funding will include outreach, rapid rehousing short-term, medium term and shelter operations. Continue reading

Individual Services Meeting Minutes – 1/8/15

Individual Services Committee Meeting Minutes
January 8, 2015

In attendance: Matthew Castleman, SMOC, Jonathan DeMars, Friends of the Homeless, Janice Humason, Friends of the Homeless, Nichole King, Friends of the Homeless, Charlie Knight, consumer, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Bill Miller, Friends of the Homeless, Dave Modzelewski, Network, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Jerry Ray, Mental Health Association, Denise Rivera, Friends of the Homeless, Laura Saponare, Catholic Charities, Joe Schroeter, Eliot CHS- Homeless Services, Pamela Schwartz, Network

Point in Time Count/Youth Count – Jan. 28

Gerry provided hand-outs with clear guidance on conducting the PIT count (thanks to Andrea Miller for her support in producing these documents).  You can find them here and here.

For people interested in helping with the street count, please contact Jay Levy or Dave Havens who will offer specific trainings in relation to this aspect of the count. Jay Levy: jay.levy01@dmh.state.ma.us; Dave Havens: dhavens@mhainc.org..

Youth Count (from 1/28-2/3): will cover anyone 24 years of age or below (living on their own), broader survey, including youth living doubled up. The count is accompanied by a survey which will be administered in person and will also be available online (with gift cards offered in return for completion). Online address not available yet but Pamela will distribute broadly as soon as it’s ready. Packet with paper surveys.

For Hampden County Youth Count, contact Lizzy Ortiz at lmalave@springfieldcityhall.com

The “Registry List;” Zero 2016 Campaign:

Gerry reported on the push to get VI-SPDAT screening completed for as many as possible who will be counted for PIT count.   This will be the basis for a “registry” of all chronically homeless individuals and the capacity to prioritize their need for housing. This registry would be administered in the context of the REACH meetings, i.e., with real person input that could adjust the survey results as needed based on individual circumstances.

The VI-SPDAT is close to being incorporated in the ETO system, with data sharing challenges solved sufficiently to separate out confidential from non-confidential information. This will spare an individual from having to be screened multiple times and will allow for appropriate information sharing across agencies..

The Zero 2016 campaign is working on creating a tool that will link with HMIS so it can pull out the VI-SPDAT score and other related information and provide the prioritization necessary to ensure the hardest to serve individuals are being served.

Legislative Advocacy

Bill Miller shared illuminating materials from MHSA (go here) that demonstrate the disconnect in state funding between the need and funding levels. Western Massachusetts receives 7% of funding under the individual services line-item for emergency shelters while accounting for 13% of the 2013 PIT count (by way of comparison: Boston receives 65% of the resources with 38% of the PIT count).

This gap is in the context of Friends of the Homeless facing a significant budget cut at the end of this fiscal year without additional intervention (they received an earmark this fiscal year that brought them up to the state average bed rate of $32/night, which will end on 6/30/15). We agreed that this issue requires Network attention.

We discussed possible advocacy solutions:

  • Procurement of the shelter system or “mini-procurement” (via pilot projects on a regional basis)
  • Increase unit rate statewide (roughly $4 million to get to state average of $32/night)
  • Increase unit rate for Western region alone (a cheaper solution, less collaborative)
  • Reallocate statewide for more appropriate need/funding ratios (all agreed it would be very problematic and likely counter-productive to advocate for cuts in funding elsewhere)

We agreed that the first step is educating our legislative delegation about this situation (MHSA’s data presentation provides a powerful tool). But we also need to come prepared to our legislative meetings with a proposed solution. We agreed we need to put this conversation in the context of the ultimate solution of housing; that these FOH services at stake are precisely what connects people to housing.

Pamela will reach out to Senate President Rosenberg to invite him to a tour of FOH.

Network Opening Doors Plan

Pamela updated the group that the Network’s contract with DHCD has just been signed and work is about to get underway to create the Western Mass. Opening Doors Plan, a regional plan that will align with the federal plan to end homelessness. She will have additional updates and information by our next meeting date.

Next meeting: Thursday, 2/5, 10:30 am, Northampton Senior Center

 

Individual Services Meeting Minutes – 11/6/14

Individual Services Meeting
November 6, 2014

In attendance: Elizabeth Bienz, ServiceNet, Eneroliza Cardena, HRU, Ben Cluff, DPH, Steve Connor, Veterans Services, Darlene Ducott, HRU, Lakita Flintroy, HRU, Janice Humason, Friends of the Homeless, Nicole King, Friends of the Homeless, Todd Konlezhny, HRU, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Sarah Lopes, Friends of the Homeless, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Kate Miernecki, ServiceNet, Bill Miller, Friends of the Homeless, Dave Modzelewski, Network, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Claudia Phillips, Mercy Medical Health Care for the Homeless, Jerry Ray, Mental Health Association, Denise Rivera, Friends of the Homeless, Laura Saponare, Catholic Charities, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Lynn White, HRU, Rebekah Wilder, Craig’s Doors, Delphine Wray, Friends of the Homeless

Hampden County CoC Update (Gerry McCafferty)

Funding update

HUD application submitted for grants starting 2015. 2 programs did not submit renewals – Samaritan Inn Transitional Housing Program and Loreto House. Loreto House is seeking alternate funds to continue its model. Jay Levy reports that Samaritan Inn has said that it has saved funds to operate at least another year. Both programs will receive CoC funds through August 2015.

Two programs under this new funding cycle will convert to permanent supportive housing (PSH) – Annie’s house (for chronically homeless women) and Safe Havens. 3 new programs: 5 new PSH units at HRU; CHD (via HUD’s “bonus project) will provide PSH for 8 chronically homeless families; Catholic Charities will provide Rapid Rehousing (RRH) funds for homeless families who are not EA eligible. These new grants will likely start in Spring 2015. Also just starting up from last application round – 8 units of PSH for families at VOC and HAP RRH funds for EA eligible families (to give these families a longer subsidy to sustain housing).

Next grant cycle will most likely be Spring 2015. It is very possible that Hampden County’s available pool of funds will increase as much as $1 million (to meet the “pro rata” need since the Springfield CoC expanded to include all of Hampden County). This could be an excellent opportunity to apply for new programs. Given HUD’s priorities, it is very likely they will fund PSH for chronically homeless individuals and RRH for homeless families. In view of HUD’s requirements for matching funds, Gerry encourages agencies interested in starting programs to begin planning now, and especially to start thinking about potential match and leverage sources.

The VI-SPDAT

We checked in on how the VI-SPDAT was going in its current practice. Friends of the Homeless did not have raw numbers immediately available but reported that they are using the VI-SPDAT and in general the scores are reflecting the perceived vulnerability of the individuals.

FOH is doing an amazing job of integrating the VI-SPDAT in their shelter. A big shout out to all the staff for their hard work on this!

Jerry Ray of MHA reported that they are beginning to use VI-SPDAT when units turn over. He noted that the information on the VI-SPDAT is somewhat limited to the extent it relies on the reporting by the client, as opposed to information from providers who have engaged with the client (the latter has tended to provide better quality information).

Working with Springfield Housing Authority on the VI-SPDAT is in process. Gerry suggests that we focus on other implementation points and learning more before focusing on implementation by SHA (in view of its size and what is involved in changing policies and approaches at SHA). At this point, when an individual comes to the top of the SHA list and SHA contacts Lizzy Ortiz (City of Springfield), Lizzy in turn can contact Bill of FOH to obtain a copy of the completed VI-SPDAT, provided there is a signed consent for release of information. We need to connect the VI-SPDAT dots with SHA over time (but they are not CoC funded so cannot require them to do so – therefore need to move more slowly).

Kate Miernecki of ServiceNet reported that ServiceNet has begun piloting VI-SPDAT as of 12/1.

Gerry reported that DHCD has decided to do a pilot of VI-SPDAT for homeless families in Western Mass. Excellent progress!

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