Category Archives: Meeting Minutes

Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes –

Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes
March 24, 2017

In attendance: Beth Barbra, Veterans Inc., Dan Boyea, Hampden County Sheriff’s Dept.,Steve Connor, Hampshire County Veterans Services, Lillian Gray, Springfield Partners for Community Action, Mike Hagmaier, Soldier On, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS Homeless Services, Chris Lizotte, West Springfield Veterans Services, Jim Mahoney, Holyoke Veterans Services, Melissa Mateus, Springfield Partners, Gerry McCafferty, Hampden County CoC/City of Springfield,  Katherine Person, Veterans Inc., Sarah Polidore, SoldierOn, Farah Rodriguez, HAPHousing, Stephanie Tonelli, Friends of the Homeless, France Wolfe, HAPHousing, Susan White, VAMC, Sabrina Willard, Soldier On 

Point in Time Count Update:
Gerry reported that HUD’s definition of “veteran” for purpose of the count is defined as “at least one day of service” in the military (“service” only begins post training and being on active duty). This clarification requires revisiting those counted since that was not the definition used. She knows that at least 5 of the 19 counted on 1/25 would not qualify as veteran and they are still in the process of determining the status of several others. These individuals would still be counted in the individual homeless count, but not as veterans.

Discussion of VHA vs. non-VHA eligible veterans:
We revisited the discussion from our last meeting on gaining a better understanding of the number of veterans who are not VHA eligible (and therefore not eligible for HUD-VASH vouchers). Gerry reported that the number of non-VHA eligible veterans is significant (among the recent count of homeless veterans it was unusual for any to be VHA eligible). At the same time, having a pool of HUD-VASH vouchers at the ready (currently there are 37 in the region) is important since the engagement process with eligible veterans is ongoing and can take time and it is hard to predict when they will become “ready” to accept a voucher (i.e., housing).

The prospect of converting vouchers to non-VHA eligible is made complicated by the fact that with that conversion comes the loss of the HUD-VASH aspect, i.e., they become traditional Section 8 vouchers without case management services (which everyone agrees is extremely important). It is theoretically possible for a housing provider to attach its support services to these vouchers (with other funding) but that takes resources!

It was also noted that last year DHCD made available Mass Rental Vouchers for veterans, requiring case management services in conjunction with them. It was difficult then to ascertain need but now with the by-name list in use, there is greater potential to utilize this resource.

Mike noted that Soldier On’s veteran housing in Agawam will be ready in early August. There will be 51 units, 49 for low-income, 21 for market rate (providing housing for 100% service connected veterans).

Sue White agreed to return to the next meeting with a breakdown of VHA eligible and non-eligible veterans.

Update on Veterans NOFA application:
Mike Hagmaier provided an extensive summary of Soldier On’s Veteran funding application and their proposed allocation of beds per the VA’s new guidelines around Grant Per Diem (GPD) beds:

  • Bridge housing (32 beds) – provided in conjunction with SSVF, must offer veterans housing and have housing in place
  • Clinical treatment (57 beds) – for veterans with mental health or substance use diagnosis who want to receive treatment, provides life skills program
  • Transitional housing (116 beds) – these are typical GPD beds, providing service intensive transitional beds with a housing path on a maximum 2 year timeline
  • Hospital to Housing (8 beds) – VHA eligible veterans, in collaboration with VA hospital (and other local hospitals)

The new rules also allow 15% variance to increase or decrease beds in each category, depending on demand. The application is due on 4/4, with program to start on 10/1.

The total beds will be 28 fewer GPD beds at Soldier On than currently exist (from 241 to 213).

Update on Hampden County Sheriff outreach with veterans:
Dan Boyea updated the group about the progress being made on using SQUARES data system to check on veteran status for every offender. It’s happening now for men and will be happening next week for women. In early April, there is a Sheriff Dept/provider meeting to map out collaboration around identifying veterans, linking them with services and coordinating re-housing effort upon release. Dan especially thanked Steve Connor for the assistance in obtaining the letter in support of this effort from the DVS Commissioner.

Announcements:
Jim Mahoney announced that the funeral events for CPL Jules Haunterman Jr. (fought in the Korean War, being returned to his home now) is taking place 3/29-3/31. Calling hours are Thurs 3/30, 4-6 pm at Barry Farrell’s Funeral Home, 2049 Northampton St., Holyoke. Friday, 3/31, 8:45-9:15 are final respects at Funeral Home; 10:00 Mass at Blessed Sacrament Church 1945 Northampton St. Burial at approx.. 11 am at St. Jerome Cemetery, 1666 Northampton Street.

Springfield Partners: 3rd annual Wellness to Work – Veterans Health and Career Fair, Tuesday, 4/25, 10:30 am – 2:30 pm, Christ Church Cathedral, 35 Chestnut Street, Springfield, MA

Recommended podcast (thanks Mike Hagmaier) – a novel approach to using Medicaid funds to pay for housing for chronically homeless people :

http://www.wbur.org/onpoint/2017/03/09/hawaii-homelessness-medical

Next meeting: Friday, 4/28, 9:00-10:30 Northampton Senior Center

Family Services Committee Meeting Minutes –

Family Services Committee Meeting
March 21, 2017

In attendance: Jesus Arce, City of Springfield, Jane Banks, CHD, Hillary Cronin, VAMC, Shelly Benoit, BHN, Michelle Michaelian, BHN, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Steve Plummer, Springfield Partners for Community Action, Sara Slautterback, DESE, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Tonya Sparks, WomanShelter, Janna Teatrault, Community Action, Jennnifer Utley, DCF, Janette Vigo, HAP, Jen Wands, Springfield Schools 

Reviewed Point in Time Count Information (click here for the PIT overview and here for the Family PIT Report)

The group reviewed and discussed the findings. Follow-up question:

  • What is the precise breakdown in the decrease in homeless families between 2015 and 2016 (the report says “35% since 2015”). This would be interesting to better analyze the impact of the increased investment in the diversion program (began around 9/15) and the creation of the Strategic Re-Housing Initiative (SRI) (began in 2016). The SRI included DHCD allocations to housing providers to provide flexible funds to help re-house in challenging situations. This has proven very effective. Pamela will follow-up with Gerry for the breakdown by year.
  • The group also decided it would be worthwhile to look more closely at the allocation of SRI and better understand its impact, e.g., # of families served, typical use of funds, etc. Jane and Janette agreed to bring this analysis to the next meeting. Pamela will reach out to Joel Cox of NEFWC to request his participation.
  • Sarah Slautterback of DESE added that 21,000 children were identified as homeless during the 2015-2016 school year. And they are seeing an increase in doubled-up families this year.

Reviewed Boston Foundation Homelessness Family Report (click here for summary of Executive Summary)

The group reviewed the findings of this report, remarking on the overall marked increase in family homelessness since FY08 with notable decreases in the last 2 years. This circles us back to the examination of regional data as discussed above.

Family Homelessness Resource Fair Brainstorm

After good discussion, the group decided the following about this event:

  • It will take place either June 6, June 7, June 8, depending on results of a Doodle Poll. From 9 am – 12 noon (light breakfast included, thanks to CHD – thank you, Jane!)
  • First choice location is Northampton Senior Center – if not available will try HCC.
  • In addition to tables with agency information (and ensuring a staff person is always at the table while people are roaming!), we will offer mini-break-out groups, e.g., landlord outreach, how does the EA process work, services for veteran families.
  • The largest agencies (e.g, HAP, CHD, NEFWC, Community Action, Berkshire Regional, Franklin Regional, ServiceNet, BHN, Veterans Inc, other veterans agencies) could offer mini-sessions that provide info on the range of services they provide .
  • Consider possibility of having broader service info available, e.g., Mass Health rep (others will pursue leads on this and be in touch with Pamela on any contacts) or CBHI
  • A sub-committee will help plan this in between committee meetings. It will include: Janna Tetrault, Jane Banks, Janette Vigo and Shelley Benoit (and Pamela). Pamela will be in touch to further discuss shortly.

Network FY18 Budget Priorities

The Network’s Leadership Council convened last week and decided upon the Network’s FY18 budget priorities (click here), which included the recommended priorities from the family services committee. Pamela is working with Network partners now to schedule legislator meetings over the coming weeks to advocate for these priorities.

Next meeting date:
Our regularly scheduled meeting date of 4/11/17 conflicts with the first day of Passover. Then Spring Break is the week following. So the group decided the next available date is Thursday, 4/27, 9:30-11 am, and will try for the Northampton Senior Center

Individual Services Meeting Minutes – 3/2/17

Individual Services Meeting
March 2, 2017

In attendance: Gechar, Aquino, Friends of the Homeless, Jesus Arce, City of Springfield, Nichole Bodiford, Friends of the Homeless, Margaret Curran, Mass Fair Housing, Courtnee Godbolt, Friends of the Homeless, Charlie Knight, Rainville/SCARF, Madeline LaSanta, Hampden County Sheriff’s Dept. – AISS, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS Homeless Services, Jade Lovett, Craig’s Doors, Jen Lucca, Samaratin Inn, Kim Majewski, Gandara Center, Terry Maxe, SMOC/Open Door, Bill Miller, Friends of the Homeless, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Tania Olmo, Hampden County Sheriff’s Dept.,, Pre-release Ludlow, Luz Ortiz, Friends of the Homeless, Denise Rivera, Friends of the Homeless, Christina Ruest, Friends of the Homeless, Stephanie Tonelli, Friends of the Homeless, Rachel Weiss, Craig’s Doors

Hampden County Point in Time Count Update (via Gerry McCafferty email):

For individuals, this year’s PIT count identified 269 persons in emergency shelter, plus 54 unsheltered persons. This is an increase from 2016, when there were 244 persons in emergency shelter and 34 unsheltered persons.

Shelters with higher numbers in 2017: FOH, Taylor, Samaritan, Womanshelter–all of which were at capacity. Each one was up by a fairly small number, but the accumulated increase was 25 people.

The unsheltered count was up by 20 people. This was driven by higher street counts in Chicopee (up from 3 to 8) and Holyoke (up from 12 to 16). In Springfield, the unsheltered count went from 12 to 23–a few more found by outreach, but also different types of people found at the Youth “come-and-be-counted” events, which identified several individuals living in cars, where they would be unlikely to be found during a regular street count.

A few notes–

  • The increase seems to be consistent with what I am hearing statewide, about increasing numbers of individuals.
  • At least one factor that seems to be driving increases is opiate addiction.
  • However, one factor that I think contributes in Springfield is that we have significantly slowed the rate that we are moving long-term/chronic into housing. There are a number of contributing factors to this, and I think that we will have higher-than-average numbers moving into housing in the next six months. But while this will relieve some pressure on the shelter system, the underlying factors leading to widespread increases are worrisome.

Data is still in DRAFT form, as there is still some clean-up and checking going on. I will have a full report in the next month or so.

Also, Gerry provided the hand-out (click here) that compared the Hampden County by-name list with the PIT count.

Analysis and discussion of increase in numbers included the following:

  • More volunteers counting, plus police involvement, i.e., higher numbers are a function of better identification, not necessarily a function of a higher rate of homelessness
  • Opioid addiction
  • Relatively warmer weather

Jay noted that increases in the PIT were seen all over the state, e.g., in Worcester the number of unsheltered people rose to 96, including a higher number of women, young people and elders. Jen shared her observation of higher number of individuals experiencing drug or alcohol use.

Review of data templates:

The group reviewed data submitted by FOH, Craig’s Doors, Samaratin Inn and ServiceNet (Grove St and cot shelter in Northampton; Wells Street in Greenfield).

Discussion:

There was general agreement that this data could be useful but we needed greater clarity around how to actually use it – how to package it (not in 5 different data templates from 5 different shelters) and how to analyze it. Donna Nadeau of DHCD was explicit that this data would be very useful to her in better understanding and advocating for her region.

The group agreed that the goal for this data would be to help answer the questions of : who are we serving, what do we need, where are the gaps and how do we fill them?

It was also noted that the number of Holyoke shelter residents across all shelters was significant and revealed a gap in Holyoke providing its own emergency shelter to its residents. The new statewide procurement process that is likely slated for FY19 may be an opportunity to address this gap.

It was also noted that it would be useful to get Pittsfield shelter information as well.

Pamela agreed to follow-up with Gerry and others to get more clarity around how to best use this data and will be back in touch with the shelter providers. Stay tuned on whether it makes sense to produce this data for next month’s meeting.

It was also raised whether this committee should sponsor an “individual services retreat” similar to that which was held for the family services committee. The group can revisit this idea as well at its next meeting.

Built for Zero Team Learning Session:
Bill relayed information from Gerry regarding this Built for Zero team learning session being offered by Community Solutions on 4/25-4/26 in Washington, DC. The Hampden County CoC can send a couple of people and receive stipends to help do so. You can learn more here:  https://springfieldhampdencoc.wordpress.com/2017/02/28/invite-built-for-zero-team-learning-session-april-25-26-wash-dc

Network Funding Update: Due to the current Network funding situation, the Hampden County CoC is funding our Network committee meetings, and therefore is required to hold the meetings in Hampden County until further notice.

Next meeting date: Thursday, 4/13, 1-2:30, Friends of the Homeless (note not that usual 2nd Thursday due to the conflict with the Fair Housing Conference).