Category Archives: Individual Services Committee

Individual Services Meeting Minutes – 9/14/17

Individual Services Meeting Minutes
September 14, 2017

In attendance: Jesus Arce, City of Springfield, Nichole Bodiford, FOH Steve Connor, Central Hampshire Veterans Services, David Havens, MHA, Sarh Hills, Eliot CHS, Janice Humason, FOH Charlie Knight, Rainville, Todd Koniezhny, Next Step, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS, Sara Lopes, FOH, Jenifer Lucca, Samaratin Inn, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Bill Miller, FOH, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Digno Ortiz, FOH, Keith Rhone, FOH, Denise Rivera, FOH, Christine Ruest, FOH, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Julie Strothman, Green River Software Firm, Stephanie Tonelli, FOH, Rachel Weiss, Craig’s Doors, Lynn White, Viability Inc

Built for Zero Campaign: Gerry McCafferty reviewed the Hampden County CoC’s particiationi in the Built for Zero Campaign (with Community Solutions) to refine systems and improve outcomes in ending chronic homelessness.  The year long effort includes 4 conferences with other CoCs. There was one in April and another is upcoming in Denver in late September.

As part of this effort, out of the last meeting in April, the group produced the Chronic Storyboard with its goals, measures and strategies.  The goal was to reduce the number of chronically homeless people by 47% by the end of August.  There was a 20% reduction.  While short of goal, this is still an excellent accomplishment.

In reviewing the various elements, there has been a mix of progress and the need to revisit strategies and barriers.  Some goals need to be more long-term than anticipated.  The trend on chronic homelessness placements is positive with 44 chronically homeless individuals housed since January.

One important data finding is that between April-September 2017, 48% of the newly identified chronically homeless “aged in” to that status (click here ). This points up the priority of prevention efforts in order to avoid chronic homelessness.

Another significant finding is that 39% of those identified over this same time period were unsheltered.  The question here is whether there is an increase in the unsheltered population or improvement in the identification and assessment systems.  The feedback from the group indicated that while there may be some increase, the training around the assessment process is proving effective and better identifying those that should be identified.

Looking at new strategies going forward, questions to answer include: how do we make housing occupancy move faster when housing units are not being filled quickly? How we do we create more units? How do we identify who is on the verge of entering the chronic homelessness system and prevent it?

Gerry shared a draft Prioritization and Referral Rules for establishing clear guidelines for prioritizing placement in available units.  The application of these rules will take place in the context of a new database called Green River, which will replace Home Link (which is ending as of the end of September).  This system will allow for information to be drawn from HMIS and will facilitate easy identification of chronic homelessness status.  The group unanimously approved these Prioritization and Referral Rules.  

Shelter updates:

The Rescue Mission (Taylor St) opens on 10/2.  This will hopefully provide a welcome relief to the demand at Friends of the Homeless.

FOH is averaging 160 people/night.  This is extremely high for this time of year.  There was some discussion about whether this is partly driven by recent “sweeps” of buildings where people were sleeping in open spaces and stairwells.

Craig’s Doors in Amherst will open on 11/1.  They are gearing up with hires in place.  They also now have their Resource Center which will offer day time support to residents.

Grove Street (via email from Sam Cunningham of ServiceNet):  Grove Street is full and the waiting list is very long.  They are now hiring for the Interfaith Winter Shelter!  People can apply via ServiceNet’s website or call direct and they can direct.

Samaratin Inn – 4 short of full on funded beds.  They have seen a doubling of people in alcohol or drug recovery, the opioid epidemic coming home.

Holyoke meeting: Gerry McCafferty attended a meeting in Holyoke to discuss panhandling.  There was recognition by Holyoke leaders that emergency shelter located in the community could be helpful in addressing their challenges.  Gerry encouraged shelter providers to reach out to Holyoke to support this conversation and need for an emergency response system in Holyoke.

Network funding: Pamela announced that Network continuity is at risk in view of the Governor’s veto of funding in FY18.  While overrides are being considered now, one is unlikely for the Network. There are currently 2.5 months remaining in funding.  The Network Leadership Council is aware of the situation and while appeals for partner support are going out, suggested that it is time for Committees to take stock of this possibility and start to consider whether they would like to continue with the committee and brainstorm volunteer management.  Pamela urged people to bring this possibility back to their management for possible discussion.  She will report back on any funding news at the next meeting in October.

Next meeting:

Thursday, October 5
10:30 am- noon (note later hour in Northampton due to a conflict)
Northampton Senior Center

Individual Services Meeting Minutes – 8/3/17

Individual Services Meeting
August 3, 2017

In attendance:  Jesus Arce, City of Springfield, Beth Barbra, Veterans Inc, Sam Cunningham, ServiceNet, Jen Glover, Life Path, Lauren Jubb, Craig’s Doors, Peg Keller, City of Northampton, Charlie Knight, SCARF/Rainville, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS, Jade Lovett, Craig’s Doors, Jen Lucca, Samaratin Inn, Kim Majewski, Gandara Center, Pamela Schwartz, Network

Three County Update:
Jay Levy reported that the planning for coordinated entry continues with steady progress:
  • The assessment tool is determined (AZ Matrix Tool) and being incorporated across the region
  • ServiceNet will either expand or launch monthly meetings in Pittsfield, Northampton and Greenfield for all regional providers to attend and discuss housing match/case management issues
  • REACH meetings will also continue with a focus on system implementation and opportunities to assist harder-to-serve individuals
  • Soldier On – with CoC funding – is preparing to launch an 800 number that will be a direct referral line for shelter services and an access point to the coordinated entry system
  • January is the target date for a full roll-out of the coordinated system
The group discussed the use of the Network meetings in the context of this work and agreed that it would be appropriate, similar to Hampden County’s approach, to use the Network as a vehicle for bigger picture data review on progress being made.  Jay will discuss with Dave how to implement a system for reporting out on a monthly basis.  Jay suggested it would be useful to get data on 3 sub-populations: chronic, veterans and youth.
Hampden County Update:
Gerry sent her regrets but offered the following updates:
  • Performance Review Data for the last 2 years in preparation for the upcoming HUD competition. Jay noted that the increased numbers in the unsheltered count was due to the more extensive outreach and better identification of the population.
  • The Hampden County CoC RFP for the HUD competition has been released.
  • Gerry is attending a meeting with Holyoke Mayor Morse and others in the City of Holyoke to discuss street homelessness in Holyoke.  She will keep us posted.
Shelter Updates:
Grove Street: Sam reported it is full and the Resource Center has increasing numbers visiting it daily.
Craig’s Doors: Jade provided summary data from its 2016-2017 season:
  • Police and EMT calls were markedly down from the previous year (in police calls a decrease from 99 calls in previous years to 42 calls this year: for EMT calls from 42 to 26 calls), a great indicator of both the increased staff training and the improved relations between the shelter and emergency services.
  • 155 guests throughout season (30 fewer as compared to last season)
  • 20% were chronically homeless; 23% physically disabled; 49% with mental health issues; 21% reported substance use issues
  • 9 youth, 8 people over the age of 62, 15 people between 55 and 61
  • 7 veterans
  • average of about 5 women per night (only 6 beds for women so regularly turned away women)
  • In general, 2-3 turn-aways each night
Two shelter managers for this coming season are returning staff, which is great for continuity and overall capacity.
Jade also reported on the newly opened Resource Center in Amherst; very excited about this day-time resource for shelter guests.
Peg noted the fantastic progress in relationship building with the Town of Amherst and the sharing of information and collaboration that is taking place between Craig’s Doors and Northampton’s shelters.  We all shared in the congratulations for the great work.
FY18 State Budget Update:
Pamela reported on the Governor’s vetoes, specifically those impacting individual homelessness:
  • veto of Berkshire Regional Housing Authority’s $150,000 earmark that funds winter overflow shelter
  • veto of youth funding, which directly threatens youth services and housing that has made a great impact on this population.  Kim Majewski reported that Gandara is likely to lose some staff and is trying very hard to maintain support for the 24 youth currently housed
  • veto of RAFT funding that allowed for expanded eligibility to include individuals’ access to prevention funds
Additionally, the Governor vetoed the Network’s funding.  Legislative overrides are likely to take place in Sept., after revenue figures come in.  We have a very supportive delegation.  But even if overrides happen, the Governor can utilize 9C cuts if the revenue shortfall continues.  The Network Leadership Council is meeting to brainstorm alternative funding sources.
Next meeting dates:
9/14, 10:30-12, Springfield
10/5, 9:30-11, Northampton

Individual Services Meeting Minutes – 7/6/17

Individual Services Meeting
July 6, 2018
In attendance: Steve Connor, Veterans Services, Sam Cunningham, ServiceNet, Janice Humason, Friends of the Homeless, Charlie Knight, Rainville, Terry Maxey, SMOC, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield/CoC (by phone), Katie Miernecki, ServiceNet, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Digno Ortiz, Friends of the Homeless, Bianca Roberson, Open Door, Christina Ruest, Friends of the Homeless, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Stephanie Tonelli, Friends of the Homeless, Rachel Weiss, Craigs Doors
Youth Initiative update:
Gerry provided the background: Hampden County CoC applied to HUD last year for funding for a special initiative to end youth homelessness.  The CoC did not get funded but it scored high enough to be eligible to receive HUD Technical Assistance now to start a planning process to apply for funding in the next round.  The funds will serve youth ages 18-24  at risk or experiencing homelessness.
The first kick-off session will take place at the next unaccompanied homeless youth committee meeting on:
Wed., July 12
9:30 am – 11 am
Springfield Municipal Building
70 Tapley Street, Springfield

All are welcome and please spread the word!
Built for Zero Learning Session:
Gerry reported that the second session is Sept 5-6 in Chicago. The first session was in Washington, DC in April where the group produced a 4 month timeline to reduce chronic homelessness through increased housing placements and system change to make placement quicker and easier. In June, 8 chronically homeless individuals were housed, one of the highest numbers ever and the numbers are looking very promising for July and August.  We will have a more complete report at our next meeting.
6 people attended DC’s session, representatives from Friends of the Homeless, Mental Health association, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services and Health Care for the Homeless.  There may be space for one or two more people in September but funding is unclear.
mostly people at the last session  possibly a person or two more if a person really wants to come – key issue is whether there is funding
Discussion of committee meeting value and content going forward:
Pamela updated the group on a conversation she and Gerry had several weeks prior regarding checking in with the larger group on how our committee meetings were going.  We thought this would be useful as we start the new fiscal year.  People shared the following feedback about the meetings:
  • they are a great way to get a broader view of what’s happening across the region, e.g., what’s happening with the youth initiative.
  • they are a great way to share across the two CoC’s; to see what’s working and what’s not and to have an opportunity to share
  • they are an important opportunity to hear what’s happening at shelters across the region
There was unanimity around these values.
Gerry raised the desire to use these meetings to discuss the progress around the Built for Zero initiative but was concerned that it would be too Hampden County focused for the group as a whole.  The group discussed this and decided that it would be valuable to all across the region to learn from this effort.  It was decided to structure to the meetings so that when they occurred in Hampden County, the agenda would have as its primary focus this Hampden County effort; and conversely when the meetings were in the Three County region (Northampton), the agenda would focus on Three County efforts.  However, at both meetings, the agenda would always include shelter and any related updates for the entire region.
Shelter updates:
Northampton: Katie reported that the cot shelter is closed for the season; the resource center is very busy, roughly 25 people coming in the mornings (afternoons are by appointment only); Grove Street shelter is over-full right now.
Craig’s Doors (Amherst): Rachel reported that they just opened a new Resource Center.  It is open Mon, Tues, Thurs, 8 am – 3 pm, Wed., 10 am – 3 pm, located next to the church in a re-purposed trailer.  Congratulations on this development!
Friends of the Homeless: Janice reported that capacity averaged about 152 people in June.  Last summer too there was not a significant decrease in shelter demand.
All shelter providers noted an up-tick in demand for shelter among women. The group noted that it could be useful to track and discuss this issue and possible responses.
Next meeting dates:
Thursday, August 4, 9:30-11, Northampton Senior Center
Thursday, Sept. 14, 10:30-noon, Friends of the Homeless (note: usual first Thursday in Sept. is delayed by a week due to Learning Session in Chicago)

Individual Services Meeting Minutes – 5/4/17

Individual Services Meeting
May 4, 2017

In attendance: Steve Connor, Hampshire County veterans services, John Hornik, Amherst Housing Committee, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS Homeless Services, Jen Lucca, Samaratin Inn, Kim Majewski, Gandara Center, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Dave Modzelewski, REACH, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Lynn White, HRU

Community Solutions Learning Session Report-Out:
The bulk of today’s meeting included a presentation and discussion of a special  2 day “Learning Session” in Washington, DC, that took place a couple of weeks ago.  It included 75 communities from across the country working on ending chronic and veteran homelessness.  The Hampden County CoC attended, represented by 6 participants (from Health Care for the Homeless, MHA, FOH, Eliot Services and the CoC).

It was an exciting and rewarding time, filled with concrete action plan creation and goal setting. Community Solutions is a non-profit that is driving the analysis and experimentation with ending homelessness strategies, all data-driven.  HUD is present and supportive of the effort.

Community Solutions will be convening this same group of 75 2 more times over the next year (next gathering in Chicago in September, then another gathering in January) on the premise that this effort will encapsulate 12 months of continuous improvement, i.e., real time experimentation with strategies and quick feedback, exchanges and next round of experimentation.

Gerry talked us through Hampden County’s summary action plan. Click here for their “Storyboard.” The goal is to reduce the number of chronically homeless people by 47% over the next 4 months.  This will be accomplished by both increasing the number of people housed and reducing the number of people coming into chronic homelessness.  This will involve several strategies which were also discussed, including the creation of “pipeline units” in order to maintain engagement with CH individual while searching out permanent housing unit and the shifting of resources to allow for greater prevention efforts.  Friends of the Homeless’ Coordinated Entry effort will also dedicate an employee to housing search/landlord contact development.  Conversations with Springfield Housing Authority have also led to a new partnership around their Alternative Housing Voucher Program (AHVP) subsidies.  Gerry will also be reaching out to Holyoke Housing Authority (and other Holyoke city officials) to explore partnerships there.

The group observed how reducing the numbers of homeless individuals requires very “in-the-weeds” work – extremely exacting, individualized, concrete.  The by-name list is a critical component of the effort.

We discussed how lessons learned from this effort can be utilized across the region. Gerry will send out the link to general materials available through Community Solutions.

Note: click here: And go to the “new user” button at the upper right of the page

We agreed that it would be useful to incorporate in our monthly meetings a report-out on progress: how many people entered homelessness; how many people housed in a given month. Steve will explore whether this is possible via the Three County’s list.

Quick Summary of Federal Budget for FY17:
We noted the passage of the Continuing Resolution for the FY17 federal budget; that US Interagency Council on Homelessness is still funded and there have been increases in funding for homeless assistance programs.  This is a pleasant surprise.  But it has no bearing on what may lie ahead for FY18.

Hampshire/Franklin REACH Meeting: Monday, 5/8, 1 pm, DMH building
Dave Modzelewski announced that this meeting is being convened upon request by participants to discuss the future of this REACH meeting and if/how it may modify itself to support the by-name list work in the Three County region.

Next meeting date:
Thursday, June 1, 10:30 am- 12 noon, Friends of the Homeless, 755 Worthington Street.