Category Archives: Meeting Minutes

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.

Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes – 4/28/17

Veterans Committee
April 28, 2017

In attendance: Steve Connor, Veterans Services, Melissa Mateus, Springfield Partners, Sue Moorman, VA, Digno Ortiz, Friends of the Homeless, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Stephanie Tonelli, Friends of the Homeless 

Hampden County update: Springfield Partners hosted its Wellness to Work event earlier this week.  It was very successful, with a turn-out of 60-70 veterans, mostly from the Springfield area.  A great range of resources were available. We discussed using the Network’s veterans committee email list to spread the word on these types of events to ensure maximum awareness.

Stephanie noted the high number of homeless individuals needing a mass ID or birth certificate and not having any funds to pay for them.  We agreed I would bring this question to the individual services committee to learn more about any resources to pay for these items.

Three County Point in Time Data Review:  Please on Annual Point in Time Count to see the summary data along with visuals.  We reviewed veterans data, which reflected current knowledge and assumptions.  Steve noted that with the new Veterans NOFA pending, the breakdown of the GPD beds will be dramatically changing and it is still unclear how that will impact the Point in Time count in the future (i.e., what will be considered transitional vs. permanent housing beds).  Funding decisions will likely be released in August.

Holyoke Soldiers Home: Steve noted a recent study about the Holyoke and Chelsea Veterans Homes.  We discussed the lack of connection/relationship between the Holyoke Veterans Home and the Network and all agreed it would be useful to gain a better understanding and explore greater collaboration.  Steve will send a link to the report to us and follow-up around best contacts for planning a meeting.

Family Homelessness Resource Fair: We discussed the upcoming Family Homelessness Resource Fair on June 8, 9 am – 12 noon, Holyoke Community College Kittredge Center and the presence of veterans services providers.  All have committed to participating and also to planning a 15-20 minute break-out group that focuses on veterans services and homeless families.  Pamela will put everyone on the same email with Hillary Cronin of the VA who has volunteered to be the point person (she attends the family services meetings) and will include: Beth Barbra, Steve Connor, Melissa Mateus, Katherine Person, Sarah Polidore and Sabrina Willard.

Next meeting date:
Friday, May 26
9:15 am – 10:30 am
Mental Health Association
995 Worthington Street, Springfield

Family Services Committee Meeting Minutes – 4/27/17

Family Services Committee Meeting
April 27, 2017

In attendance:  Jane Banks, CHD, Shelly Benoit, BHN, Jessica Jacobs, Tenancy Preservation Program, Jane Lindfors, DTA/DV Unit, Heather Marshall, Elizabeth Freeman Center, Luis Martinez, CHD, Yeisie Mateo, DCF Housing Specialist, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Jenni Pothier, Tenancy Preservation Program, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Janna Tetreault, Community Action, Janette Vigo, HAPHousing, Mandy Winalski, Community Legal Aid

FY18 State Budget Update:
The House just passed its FY18 budget.  We reviewed how the Network’s family priorities fared.  Please click here for a summary.

Three County Point in Time Count review:
The Committee reviewed the Three County’s PIT summary report (please go to Annual Point in Time Count for this report and more detailed visuals).  The overall number of homeless persons during the 2017 PIT Count decreased by 15% compared to the 2016 PIT Count, a decrease that was due primarily to reductions in the hotel/motel census (from 76 people to 0) and in the reduction in Soldier On’s Grant Per Diem beds (from 241 beds to 213 beds).  This meant that the total number of homeless families decreased from 57 families to 39 households between 2016 and 2017.  The group noted the contrast in numbers with Hampden County PIT findings, which identified 513 homeless families and 1941 people in homeless families.

Statewide Data Review:
The group reviewed DHCD’s EA Monthly Report (available on DHCD’s website and provided during DHCD’s monthly statewide phone call with providers).  Click here for the full report. We noted that in March 650 families applied for EA; 133 from Western MA (Boston, 117, North Shore 63).  We also noted the 0 families in hotels/motels, the only region in the State (although only 2 in South Shore and 3 in Central Mass; 37 in North Shore, 27 in Boston).  We also looked at the HomeBase entries (either as a result of Diversion or Exits from shelter).  Western MA entered 42 families into HB.  We agreed that this number would be very interesting if the diversion and exit numbers could be separated (to ascertain numbers diverted).

The group also agreed that looking at this data on a monthly basis would be useful.  Pamela will incorporate it into the agenda.

Family Homelessness Resource Fair Planning (Thursday, June 8, 9 am – 12 noon, HCC):
We reviewed the planning summary document thus far (click here).  The group also decided on the following:

  • we would have 4 break-out groups of 20 minutes each on: the EA system (point person: Jane Banks/Yoshi Bird); employment services (point person: Pamela to the career centers); domestic violence services (point person Heather Marshall); veterans services (point person: Hillary Cronin).  Each point person would reach out to colleagues to touch base on how best to approach the break-out.  We agreed the goal is to provide a brief snap-shot of where a provider is to call/know when faced with a family who is identified with the pertinent need; that the time for Q&A would happen in the circulation time following the break-out.  Each point person will report back at our next family services meeting.
  • The schedule tentatively is: 9 am – 10 am – general circulation; 10 am – 11:15 am – break-out groups; 11:15 am – noon – general circulation
  • The planning sub-committee – Janna Teatrault (Community Action), Jane Banks (CHD), Janette Vigo (Way Finders) – will make a plan to visit the space at HCC to plan the lay-out for the event.
  • Other outreach to do:  school liaisons (Pamela); NELCWIT (Jane Lindfors); substance abuse providers (Shelly Benoit), Catholic Charities (Pamela), Springfield Housing Authority (Pamela to Pam Wells); Chicopee Housing Authority (Pamela to Monica Blazik); Holyoke Housing Authority (Janette Vigo); New Lease Program (Janette Vigo); Care Center (Pamela); Mass Fair Housing (Pamela); AISS (Pamela), Providence Hospital (Gerry); DA’s office (Janette Vigo?)

The general assumption is that each provider showcasing info would provide summary contact info on how to access resources.

We agreed our outreach for this event would be internally oriented (e.g., no press release, not advertised to the broader community); that for the first time we would “keep it local” to the Network and then assess and see if expansion is in order for next time.

Next meeting date:
Tuesday, May 16
1:00 pm – 2:30 pm
CHD, 51 Capital Dr, West Springfield

Individual Services Meeting Minutes – 4/13/17

Individual Services Committee Meeting Minutes

In attendance:  Grechar Aquino, Friends of the Homeless, Steve Connor, Veterans Services, John Fisher, Way Finders, Janice Humason, Friends of the Homeless, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Charlie Knight, SCARF/Rainville, Jen Lucca, Samaratin Inn, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Digno Oritz, Friends of the Homeless, Luz Ortiz, Friends of the Homeless, Katie Roberts, Clean SlateWS, Denise Rivera, Friends of the Homeless, Christina Ruest, Friends of the Homeless, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Stephanie Tonelli, Friends of the Homeless, Lynn White, HRU

Hampden County Update:
Just conducted a Coordinated Entry training – about 40 people attended, including PSH and shelter providers – PSH providers, shelter providers – on the mechanics of coordinated entry, e.g., documenting chronic homelessness status, prioritizing based on vulnerability assessment, using a centrally coordinated list.  Outreach still to do to health care providers.  Continuing to tackle the challenge of creating systems for street population and other shelters for coordinated entry.

HUD CoC Competition underway and must produce updated policies and procedures on Coordinated Entry – stay tuned

2 applications going in for 5 year SAMHSA grant to work with CH individuals with dual diagnoses – one from BHN, the other from FOH/CSO. Hopefully one will get funded and these resources will be available.

Three County CoC Update:
Making progress on by-name list for CH individuals, targeting use of the assessment tool.  Working on the mechanics of a Release of Information across agencies (Gerry noted a sharing of best practices that has an ROI referring to a web-based listing which allows for the changing nature of organizations and the continuing application of the signed ROI).

It was noted that when the total by-name list of CH individuals (just under 60) is broken down by county, the challenge is less overwhelming – brings home the value of targeting

The by-name list of veterans is in full use, targeting the homeless veterans who are not “covered” in the new per diem “bed type” categories as dictated by the VA (and implemented by Soldier On). Soldier On is opening new housing in Agawam in August (an earlier than anticipated opening date), bringing 51 housing units on line for homeless veterans.

There was discussion of cross-referencing between Hampden and Three County lists in order to zero in on people who are from Hampden County and sleep outside in the warmer months and utilize Hampshire County shelters in the colder months. Gerry is trying to connect to the dots on outreach to these people. Jay Levy and Stephanie Tonelli will talk more about this.

Data Template Review
The group discussed the effort thus far to collate data from individual shelters to analyze demand and learn about gaps. We recounted that last month was our first month of exchanging the data template for all shelters where we agreed that without a more focused data analysis it was difficult to utilize the data well. Pamela, Gerry and Bill met prior to this meeting to discuss the goals further. We reported back that some concern was raised around focusing on the geographic origin of people attending since it could inadvertently foster concerns around serving “out-of-town” people in need of shelter. We agreed that our concern is providing emergency shelter to those in need, not a “my people vs. your people” approach.

Gerry noted that if the goal is determining where there is high need, we can do that through the Point in Time Count (e.g., Holyoke has a high number of unsheltered people and no emergency shelter).

We also noted the capacity issue around data analysis, i.e., we have none! So we do not want to add to people’s work load in data production without clarity around how it will be used.

Gerry noted that DHCD is very interested in enhancing data around homeless individuals in general, wanting to set targets and goals but needing good data to do so. DHCD is looking at creating a data warehouse to look at de-identified and de-duplicated data.  Gerry noted that within the next 6-9 months, there be increased capacity to examine data at both a State and CoC level.

Meanwhile, we can get clear on what data we are looking for and why. Gerry noted that looking at the unsheltered population more deeply may reveal more information about gaps in needs; that the development of the by-name list has also been a great source of learning about the population. We agreed that at our next meeting, Gerry could share this information as well as a look at what HMIS could provide very readily. We agreed that we do not want to reinvent the wheel in data production but instead draw on what currently exists and delve more deeply.

Jay noted the importance of ensuring access to shelter for all those who need it in the community in which they live.

It was also noted that the best response to the high shelter numbers is to institute a diversion program that offers stable housing as an alternative to shelter.

Shelter update:
Craig’s Doors and Northampton cot shelter closing 5/1
Taylor Street is seasonal but not closing 5/1, will be open until funds run out, likely June/July
FOH: transitioning overflow population to main shelter; looking by end of month not to have anyone in overflow; women no longer in overflow.

Next meeting date: Thurs May 4, 9:30-11 am, Northampton Senior Center, subject to confirmation.


Topics for next meeting:

Learn more about what the by-name list tells us as compared to HMIS – what additional insight does it provide?            What does HMIS provide in terms of our demand/gap analysis?