Category Archives: Individual Services Committee

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