Category Archives: Individual Services Committee

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3 County Individual Services Meeting Minutes – 4/9/18

The Network continued its experiment with merging meetings by joining the 3 County REACH meeting and conducting Network business for the last 30 minutes of it.  All members of both the Hampden County and the 3 County region will stay on the Network’s singular individual services committee email list and receive each other’s meeting minutes as a way of staying connected and learning from each other.

Three County Individual Services Meeting Minutes  – 4/9/11

In attendance:  Charlyn Arnell, Eliot Services, Colin Blair, Eliot Services, Steve Connor, Veterans Services, Lillian Coleman, ACC, Sam Cunningham, ServiceNet, Lisa Goldsmith, DIAL/SELF, Erin Gorry, CHD, Hwei-Ling Greeney, ACC, John Hornik, Town of Amherst, Andy Klatka, Eliot Services, Jay Levy, Eliot Services, Anne Marie Martineau, DMH, Charles McDowell, DMH, Danielle McGolgan, CHD, Katie Miernecki, ServiceNet, Sue Moorman, VA, Brendan Plante, Eliot Services, Nikkie Riello, Hilltown CDC, Pamela Schwartz, Josh Wren, ServiceNet, Chris Zabik, DMH

Homelessness Resource Fair for Providers – June 14
Pamela provided an update on the second annual Homelessness Resource Fair for providers that is taking place on Thurs., June 14, 9:30 am – 12:30 pm at HCC. We reviewed Hampden County’s individual services meeting discussion around the workshop on chronically homeless individuals where it was confirmed that focusing on the definition of chronically homeless, why it matters and how the coordinated entry system works.  Katie Miernecki volunteered to join the planning group (along with Janice Humason from FOH and Laura Robertson from Catholic Charities of Hampden County).  Pamela will also reach out to Erin Forbush of ServiceNet to participate. The rise in the unsheltered population over the last 2 years was also noted; the opioid epidemic was discussed as a contributing factor.

Three County Point in Time Count data:
Jay and Pamela distributed the 2018 PIT data (click here) compiled by Andrea Miller, the 3 County HMIS director. It was noted that there is an overall 5% increase as compared to last year due to the rise in family homelessness while there is a small reduction among the other populations.  The significant drop in the # of chronically homeless individuals since 2015 was due to the change in the definition of CH which made it more restrictive.  We also noted the spike in youth homelessness in 2015 (60) as compared to subsequent years (in the 30’s), which was due to the rise that year in homeless families with young adult parents. It was also noted that the evacuees from Puerto Rico were not yet included in the count due to the challenge of acquiring the data.

Coordinated entry info sharing across sub-regions: Pamela shared that Hampden County was launching a “VI-SPDAT challenge for the month of April” – including prizes and all! – as a tool to increase the number of assessments and help cement the practice of competing assessments to everyone entering the system.  While the 3 County tool is still in process of being integrated, this is one tool to keep in mind.

Shelter Updates:
Pamela shared that at the last Hampden County Individual Services Committee Friends of the Homeless reported notably high occupancy at 172 individuals each night.  It was noted that the Hartford seasonal shelter recently closed which may be a contributing factor.

Katie of ServiceNet reported the last month at the cot shelter saw 13 turn-aways (and the average has been 18-20), 10 due to capacity and 3 due to being under the influence.

Craig’s Doors just hired a new shelter manager so hopefully they will have the capacity to join us at these meetings soon.

Joining Hampden County Individual Services Meetings by Zoom
Pamela noted that it’s possible to join the Hampden County Individual Services meetings by Zoom (tried once at a veterans committee meeting with mixed success – will work on better connection).  Pamela will send out a Zoom link in advance of the Hampden County meetings so people can join at a distance (makes more sense now that the Network portion is only 30 minutes).

For Three County meetings, due to the logistics of the meeting space, Pamela will relay updates from Hampden County.

Next meeting date: Monday, May 13, 1-2:30 pm, DMH Haskel Building.

Hampden County Individual Services Meeting Minutes – 3/27/18

Hampden County Individual Services Meeting Minutes
March 27, 2018

In attendance:  Grechar Aquino, Friends of the Homeless (FOH), Olivia Bernstein, Mental Health Association, Steve Connor, Veterans Services, Marvin Gonzalez, Eliot Services, Richard Hendrick, social worker, Sarah Hills, Eliot CHS Homeless Services, Janice Humason, Friends of the Homeless, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Digno Ortiz, Friends of the Homeless, Keith Rhone, FOH, Denise Rivera, FOH, Laura Robertson, Catholic Charities, Christina Ruest, FOH, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Stephanie Tonelli, FOH, Chris Zabik, DMH

Hampden County Point in Time Count Report (see below):

Gerry provided the following update:

Observations included:

  • The total number, 354, is the lowest number the CoC has had since the CoC became all of Hampden County (2011)
  • The unsheltered number has usually bounced between 30 and 55, except 2015, when the count took place in between two Nor’easters, and was only10
  • The count will not be finalized until people displaced from PR hurricane are accounted for (in hotels through FEMA), still waiting on that number
  • More than 50 of the people counted as chronically homeless in last year’s count have been housed (great progress); there are a number of people newly aging into chronic status and unsheltered people are better counted.  Overall, people are moving through the system into housing at a better rate.

Homelessness Resource Fair:

The Network’s second annual Homelessness Resource Fair is taking place on Thurs., June 14, 9:30 am – 12:30 pm at HCC.  We will offer a series of brief workshops, and feedback from the survey reflected interest in learning about resources for chronically homeless individuals. The group decided to offer a workshop that would feature the following information:

  • defining “chronically homeless” – what is criteria?
  • why are we especially focused on this population?
  • how are we addressing it through “coordinated entry” and other systemwide efforts

Janice has agreed to be a point person for the workshop and Laura Robertson has agreed as well. Other people to consider reaching out to are Kathy West of Eliot CHS Homeless Services and Dave Havens of MHA.  Pamela will also reach out to ServiceNet since this resource fair covers the whole western region.  Gerry will provide a hand-out for the workshop that summarizes how to access the coordinated entry system.

HUD Budget Update:

Congress just passed a nearly 10% increase in HUD spending, the largest single increase in 20 years. Homelessness Assistance received a 5.5% increase.  This is great news!

Emergency Shelter Update

Friends of the Homeless reported a notably high number of 172 individuals per night. It was noted that the Hartford seasonal shelter closes in the 2nd week of March and this may explain some of the FOH rise.

We did not have other 3 county shelter providers at this meeting for their reports.  Pamela will reach out to see if they are interested in participating in the Hampden County meeting by Skype or at minimum to obtain their data so Pamela can report on it at our next Hampden County meeting.

Next Hampden County meeting date: Tuesday, April 24, 1 pm – 1:30 pm, FOH.

Individual Services Meeting Minutes – 2/1/18

 

Individual Services Committee Meeting Minutes
February 1, 2018

In Attendance: Tanisha Arena, Fenway Health VRP, Steve Connor, Central Hampshire Veterans Services, Nichole King, FOH/CSO, Charlie Knight, Rainville/former consumer, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Jen Lucca, Samaratin Inn, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Bill Miller, FOH/CSO, Digno Ortiz, FOH/CSO, Rosemary Pelletier, YWCA of Western MA, Christina Ruest, Keith Rhone, FOH/CSO, Denise Rivera, FOH/CSO, Stephanie Tonelli, FOH/CSO, Delphine Wray, FOH/CSO

Three County CoC Update:

  • Conducted Point in Time Count last week (one week earlier than Hampden).
  • Coordinated Entry launched last week – 1-888 number – 1-888-413-@MAS (9627). This phone number offers resource referrals and access to transportation.  Soldier On is staffing the number; it is available to all.

Coordinated entry meetings are now underway (all providers are welcome):

Berkshire County: Barton’s Crossing, Wednesdays, 2-3:30 pm, 141 North Street, Pittsfield

Franklin County: Franklin Drop-In, Tuesdays, 1-2:30 pm, 60 Wells Street Greenfield

Hampshire County: Hampshire Drop-In, Mondays, 1-2:30 pm, 43 Center St, Northampton

Hampden County CoC:

  • PIT count happened last night;  preliminary data out next week.
  • By-name list – last year at end of Jan had 97 individuals on it; now in high 60’s,  (several left the area or are inactive)
  • New data warehouse allows providers beyond CoC funded recipients – e.g., hospitals, jails – to enter VI-SPDATs, while automatically linking to HMIS record. Soon, the system will allow the list to be updated as changes are made through a given month and will automatically incorporate HMIS record changes as they are uploaded.
  • The CoC board is meeting tomorrow and will vote on a couple of changes to the coordinated entry system, including making rapid re-housing funds available to those up to 50% of median income and changing the referral system so those with high VI-SPDAT scores are not referred to RRH (not a good match).
  • City of Springfield is putting out notice of funding opportunities through ESG and HOPWA.
  • CoC team is continuing to attend Build for Zero learning sessions to advance the work of ending chronic and veteran homelessness
  • HUD FEMA numbers: Hampden County has 238 households in motels (substantially more are doubled up); all housing authority applicants are given priority based on displacement by disaster.

Network earmark funding update:  Pamela reported the good news that the Network’s FY18 earmark actually was released.  The Network Steering Committee agreed to allocate the $125K in funds to direct assistance to fill some of the gaps resulting from the cut in youth funding and Consortium (prevention) funds.  The agencies funded – Gandara and Catholic Charities in Hampden County and Community Action, DIAL/SELF and Berkshire Regional Housing Authority in 3 County – are all those that previously administered these funds and have existing staff to distribute these new monies.

Update from Tanisha Arena of Fenway Health: Tanisha works as an advocate for Fenway Health’s violence recover program, based in Springfield out of the Out Now office, and offers counseling and advocacy to LGBTQ victims of violence.  You can reach Tanisha at: tarena@fenwayhealth.org.

Network evaluation update:  Pamela reminded everyone that there is a general network meeting to discuss its future on Monday, 2/12, 1 pm at HCC, Kittredge Center.  We had a brief discussion to elicit more feedback now and we heard the following from people around the table:

  • updates and information sharing are useful
  • helps with isolation when working on one’s own in a shelter setting
  • concerned about ensuring clarity and outcomes for the meeting – who should be at the table and why
  • more detailed agenda to assess utility of attending would be useful
  • appreciates quick and easy view of big picture on homelessness

Pamela will send out interview questions again to invite additional feedback.

Next meeting: in Northampton; will revisit date due to conflict with first Thursday in March.  Please stay tuned.

Individual Services Meeting Minutes – 12/7/17

Individual Services Meeting Committee Minutes
12/7/17
 
In attendance:  Rebecca Barowsky, Craig’s Doors, Sam Cunningham, Service Net, Interfaith Shelter, Jen Glover, Lifepath, Charlie Knight, Rainfille, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Jade Lovett, Craig’s Doors, Dave Modzelewski, REACH, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Rachel Weiss, Craig’s Doors, Lynn White, Viability, Chris Zabik, DMH
 
Hampden County CoC Update (via Gerry McCafferty email):
  • The CoC is rolling out and expanding its on-line coordinated entry data system. The developer is this week loading in the Youth and Family VISPDATs, so the system will soon be covering all populations. Individual and youth providers are meeting this Wed to talk about how these systems coordinate, and DV and single adult systems are meeting the following Wed.
  • The CoC will be gearing up for the Point in Time Count, schedule for the last Wed. in January.
  • The state is continuing to move forward with plans for a statewide data warehouse, which would offer an excellent resource for understanding the homeless population across CoC lines and tracking progress.
Three County CoC Update (via Dave Christopolis email):
  • Coordinated entry will be launched in January, 2018.  The CE committee members are all going to participating agencies in person and training people. Case conferencing will begin weekly in each county facilitated by ServiceNet where people in the list will be reviewed based on vulnerability as well as a weekly vacancy report of COC units in order to try to find a housing match.  Three County CoC Board will be asked to vote to approve the CE policy and procedures at the Dec. board meeting.
  • Coordination for the Point in Time Count will take place over the next 6 weeks, coordinated by each county and their sub-regions.
Shelter Updates:
 
Interfaith Cot Shelter, Northampton: Sam reported a smooth start to the season. The shelter has just hired a Spanish speaking person which is great (roughly 1/4-1/3 guests are Spanish speakers).  Sam reported 18 turn-aways for the month of November, 12 due to no capacity and 3 due to under the influence.  (Capacity is 20 beds in Northampton; 6 over-flow in Easthampton.) When people are turned away, they are given bus passes to get to Amherst (Craig’s Doors) and other options are explored with them.  There is a new doctor with Health Care for the Homeless providing service at the shelter each Wed. night which has been very useful.
Craig’s Doors, Amherst: Rachel and Jade reported a smooth start but capacity is also an issue (capacity is 22 men, 6 women).  They turn away roughly 1 or 2 men every night and sometimes must turn away women.
There was discussion of the work afoot via the Amherst Homelessness Committee (funded by the Town of Amherst to hire a staff person who would be available to provide additional prevention and re-housing support (a la Tenancy Preservation Program or the staff person in Northampton).  This would be an extremely useful additional resource.  Conversations also continue to be underway with the Amherst Housing Authority about designating units for homeless individuals.
We discussed the issue of moving people from shelter into housing and the extreme challenges involved, including lack of affordable housing and lack of landlords’ willingness to rent to people with more challenging backgrounds. We agreed it may be useful for the Network to focus on creating opportunities to build community relationships with landlords; we will discuss this further at the next meeting.  We also agreed that tracking the housing outcomes for people entering shelter would be useful to help better identify barriers and possible solutions. We discussed how the imminent implementation of Coordinated Entry may provide some additional tools and information.  We will discuss this further as well at our Jan. and Feb. meetings.
Friends of the Homeless, Springfield (via Janice Humason, email): FOH averaged 142/night in November.  Bed availability is greater in the women’s shelter than the men’s shelter.
Network Update:  Pamela reported the good news that the Network will continue to be funded at least through FY18 thanks to DHCD’s support.  Special thanks to DHCD Assistant Undersecretary Jane Banks for her support (she facilitated a contract amendment with CHD to allocate a portion of its housing stabilization funds to fund the Network).  DHCD determined that in view of the family and individual homelessness system re-procurement process coming up next fiscal year, the Network’s role as a convener around coordination and collaboration is critical.  Additional thanks to Donna Nadeau for her support as well!
Network endorsement of increasing benefits for EAEDC participants who are experiencing homelessness: Committee members unanimously agreed to endorse Mass. Coalition for the Homeless’ legislative advocacy campaign to increase Emergency Aid benefits for the Elderly, Disabled and Children (EAEDC) program participants who are experiencing homelessness. They still receive a reduced grant of only $92.80 from the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance. This monthly grant is 70% lower than the $303.70 average monthly grant for individuals who have housing. It clearly is insufficient for these participants to meet even their most basic needs.  Pamela will report to MCH to add the Network as an endorser.
Hampshire REACH meeting: Jay and Dave reported Hampshire County REACH is meeting this Monday, 12/11 at 1 pm at DMH Haskell Building.  It will be an opportunity to take stock of REACH’s future in view of the imminent implementation of Coordinated Entry sub-regional meetings.  Please come if you can to be part of the discussion!
Way Finders is accepting applications for Live 155, affordable housing on Pleasant Street in Northampton.  There are 3 preferences, including homelessness, relocation (if had to move from the original Pleasant St Lodging) and DMH units.  Go to: https://www.wayfindersma.org/real-estate/property/live-155 to find out how to apply (applications to enter the lottery are due by end of January.
Loretto House has a new executive director, Michael Lewis.  There are openings (sobriety required).
Three County CoC AHAR (Annual Housing Assessment Repot) review: We took some time to review Three County’s AHAR report, an annual HUD requirement (click here ; note that the report is for all of 3 County but the form – due to HUD’s failure to update – states Berkshire County).  The group found it interesting to take a closer look at what HUD is looking at and the numbers in the 3 county area.
Next meeting date: Thursday, Jan. 4, 10:30-noon, Friends of the Homeless

Individual Services Meeting Minutes – 11/2/17

Individual Services Meeting Minutes – 11/2/17
 
In attendance: Grechar Aquino, FOH, Jesus Arce, Springfield Office of Housing, Sarah Hills, Eliot-CHS , Janice Humason, FOH, Nichole King-Bodiford, FOH, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS, Terry Maxey, Open Door, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Digno Ortiz, FOH, Christina Ruest, FOH, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Stephanie Tonelli, FOH, Delphine Wray, FOH
Hampden County CoC Update (Gerry McCafferty): The shift to the new coordinated entry system (replacing HomeLink) is underway.  It combines the by-name list with HMIS info to allow for more complete information and history on the people being served.  The next step is a training on Nov. 15 to inform people about how to “refer in” to the system.  The group conducted a brainstorm of groups to reach out to, e.g., Providence Hospital, Noble Hospital, New North Citizens Council, Holyoke and Chicopee Police Departments, etc. Also upcoming is building out the system so it allows for making links to available housing, which will enable housing matches outside of and in between case conferencing meetings.  This should be up and running in the next few weeks.
They are housing roughly 10 people/month in recent months, up from average of 4-6.  This is a function of the Build for Zero strategy work, which includes putting in place systems to free up housing units and connect people to them as quickly as possible. Fantastic progress!
Based on street outreach, it is now understood that people living on the street go to Craig’s Doors in Amherst once their shelter opens (11/1).  Gerry will be reaching out to staff there to help bring them into the Hampden coordinated entry system to make it more possible to house these individuals before the shelter closes in May. This underscores the importance of cross-county coordination.
Three County CoC Update (Jay Levy): The seasonal shelters – interfaith cot and Craig’s Doors – is opening today.  The region is moving forward with coordinated entry, the 1-800 number is getting ready to launch; waiting on DHCD’s incorporation of the assessment tool into HMIS; the veterans committee is going strong.
Feedback on ICHH training question: ICHH asked for feedback from Network members regarding training needs for frontline staff working with all populations.  Specifically, the question is whether staff who may be focused on clinical concerns can miss tenancy-related issues which could de-stabilize an individual or family and lead to eviction/homelessness, e.g. failed unit inspections, missing deadlines for subsidy recertification paperwork, not reporting changes in income or family composition, problems with neighbors, etc.  Is this kind of training Network members would like to see?
Discussion:  The consensus is YES, this would be a useful training.  Housing stability can be tough to tackle when dealing with clinical issues.  Gerry will follow-up directly with Dave to get more info about what may be possible and will report back.
Network future discussion: Pamela informed the group of the Network Leadership  Council’s decision made at a meeting on 10/25: in view of the Network’s funding situation (likely not funded this fiscal year), the next 2 months will be utilized to retain committee feedback and professional facilitation to sort out the continuity of the Network without staffing.  The interim LC steering committee is meeting on 11/20 to discuss next steps more completely.  This committee meeting is the first opportunity to provide direct input on what is most useful (which will be relayed to the LC).  Comments included:
  • very useful to get big-picture info (not client specific) around the work that is being done; very helpful and informative
  • very important to have the opportunity for both CoC’s to come together and exchange info,
  • challenging to deal with meeting overload in general; would be good to examine: what are we doing, what is the goal, what needs to happen to get us there
  • Possible suggestions for reconfiguration included: inserting brief big picture updates at the start of case conferencing meetings (but it was noted that that would not allow for CoC’s to come together); meet bi-monthly or quarterly as a regional committee meeting, rotating facilitation duties; switch off between veterans and individuals so that still one monthly meeting
We will meet next (and continue this discussion) on:
Thursday, December 7
9:30 am – 11:00 am, Northampton Senior Center

Individual Services Meeting Minutes – 10/5/17

Individual Services Meeting Minutes
October 5, 2017
In attendance: Jesus Arce, City of Springfield, Sam Cunningham, ServiceNet, Sarah Hills, Eliot Homeless Services, Peg Keller, City of Northampton, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Rachel Weiss, Craig’s Doors, Lynn White, Viability

Update on Coordinated Entry 
  • 1-800 number:  Jay shared an update regarding the nearing release of the 3 County CoC’s coordinated 1-800 number to provide resource and referral information to people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.  Soldier On is administering the calling center (building off of their veterans hotline).  It will be open Monday through Friday, exact hours still to be determined.  Eliot Services and others are involved in training the staff.
  • Jay also reported that the coordinated entry assessment tool (an adapted version of the AZ Matrix tool) will soon be launched.  They are waiting on DHCD to integrate this tool into the HMIS system (suggested by November 1).  This will make data entry and implementation of a prioritization list more immediately doable.
 
Program updates
ServiceNet: Sam reported that cot shelter is almost fully staffed and ready to go (looking for bi-lingual staff person).  Trainings are underway around opioid awareness, Narcan, de-escalation, etc. A new doctor from Health Care for the Homeless is now on board.  Sam also noted that 173 people used the resource center this past summer, down from 207 last summer.
Peg noted from Northampton’s Next Step meeting that Eliot Services identified 25-30 unsheltered individuals in Northampton, more than ever before.  She also noted that the Easthampton overflow shelter is on track for opening on time.
Craig’s Doors:  Rachel reported that she and Jade are now co-executive directors with Rebekah Wilder’s departure.  It’s all systems go as they prepare for shelter opening on November 1. There are 3 managers this year, 2 with previous experience at the shelter. They are also incorporating extensive training as noted above and developing policies and procedures. Assuming traffic at the new Resource Center will pick up once the shelter is open.  They are also exploring developing overflow space at area churches.
Data Review:
We reviewed the 3 County CoC’s 2017 Annual Report and Point in Time Count Report, both required submissions by HUD.
Some discussion points:
  • Noted the increase in the unsheltered count, which Jay attributed to both better outreach and identification and the impact of the opioid crisis.
  • Under housing inventory, it was recorded that there was an increase in rapid re-housing beds of 100.  We agreed to follow-up with the CoC on this number since there is a lack of clarity around where those units came from (who is funded) and where they are located.
  • Winter shelter beds were also pulled out as a data point and we agreed to follow-up to better understand that as a measure (is that HUD’s?).
  • Interesting to see data around increase in job and income growth.
The group agreed that reviewing this data and better understanding what is submitted to HUD is useful to connect to both the goal of quality data collection and the underlying goal of ending homelessness.  We will continue the discussion at the next 3 County meeting.
Next meetings:
11/2, 10:30-noon, Springfield
12/7, 10:30-noon, Northampton – note: we agreed to permanently shift the meeting time in Northampton to 10:30-noon

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