Category Archives: Meeting Minutes

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Hampden Individual Services Meeting – 3/19/19

In attendance: Grechar Aquino, Friends of the Homeless/CSO, Marcia Crutchfield, BHN, Jessica Dorman, Mercy Medical Center, Fina Fulla-Kay, City of Springfield, Dave Havens, MHA, Richard Hendrick, social worker, Erika Hensel, FOH/CSO, Sarah Hills, Eliot CHS, Janice Humason, FOH/CSO, Nichole King,FOH/CSO, Charlie Knight, former consumer, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS Homeless Services, Jen Lucca, Samaratin Inn, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Lizzy Ortiz, Mercy Medical, Denise Rivera, FOH/CSO, David Rodriguez, Viability, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Dennis Sheehan, FOH/CSO, Stephanie Tonelli, FOH/CSO, Kathy West, Eliot CHS

By-name list update:

  • Gerry reported that we are seeing a few months in a row where outflow was higher than inflow, so the number on our list is dropping and is below 80 for the first time since a year go.  
  • On the outflow side, the Springfield Housing Authority Mainstream vouchers have been a big help – a reminder of the need to be identifying new resources. On a recent call, HUD said they expect the next NOFA for Mainstream vouchers to be out in the next month or two.
  • The place where we have had trouble making a difference is on inflow—this is about diversion, as well as better interventions upstream (for example, hospital data matching and working to get people housed before they become chronic; also the foster care collaboration that is underway).
  • The CoC is sending a team of 6 to the Built for Zero learning session in Atlanta at the end of March, where we will be working on new ideas in these areas.  Stay tuned for the report back.

Youth/Foster Care/Needs Assessment project update

  • EOHHS youth grant: Both programs are staffed up, with flex funds available for youth for prevention/diversion, and some new RRH slots. Gandara is continuing the search for the youth shelter site. 
  • Youth Needs Assessment. This is part of the EOHHS grant which has been used to retain consultants.  Thus far, they have collected data, had a youth focus group, and are currently reaching out to some folks in our community who have expertise in certain areas (for example, sex trafficking, parenting youth, youth who have come from Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria). Our next group meeting is April 3, 9:30-12:30 at UMass Springfield; our consultants will give us some data back and then we will spend some time in a strategy session.
  • HUD’s Youth Homelessness Demonstration Project: The NOFA is out, due to HUD May 15. The youth team is already working on it with advice from the consultant team. As a reminder, the CoC applies for this grant and if selected, then it submits specific programs for funding. Initial funding is a minimum of $1 million over 2 years, with potential for renewal. The needs assessment meetings are feeding into the information needed for the grant application.  Hoping 3rd time – with so much additional work under our belt – is a charm!
  • Foster Care Collaboration Project. The team from New York processed information from a first journey-mapping session with providers, and took that to Phoenix (the second community that’s part of the project), where it is serving as a launching pad for that community’s conversation. The team is back in town tomorrow to meet with 8-10 young people who have been in foster care to learn more about their experiences of the system. Nathan V., who has been subject of case conferencing sessions, is one of the youth who will be talking to them. The information about foster care is also filtering into our needs assessment.

Heartland Alliance Opportunity: Way Finders is the lead agency applicant for a grant opportunity from Heartland Alliance, a national anti-poverty organization, for a 2.5 year, $75-$100K grant to support system change to join the homeless/re-housing system with the employment system to increase employment and housing stability. The target population must be people experiencing homelessness who are NOT on any priority list for housing. Way Finders is partnering with Friends of the Homeless (an informative focus group with 6 shelter guests occurred there yesterday), career centers and community colleges to create linkages and will use the template created by its very successful Secure Jobs program (workforce development for homeless families) for this effort. The application is due 3/29; 5 communities will be awarded this grant nationwide.

Discharge Planning:  We checked on this issue from last month’s meeting.  We had asked for people to submit anecdotes in their work around discharge challenges from hospitals/other institutions.  We received one comment.  The group decided that the best course forward is to carve out time at each meeting to check in on the topic and whether people have updates to share.  

We learned from Dave Havens about MBHP and Beacon’s new “recovery homes” that are opening that will allow for longer-term stays.  One with 14 beds for all men. We agreed to invite Amy Conklin from MHA who is overseeing this effort.  Pamela will reach out to invite her to our next meeting.  We agreed one of the roles of this committee would be to facilitate an exchange of resources to ensure all are aware of what is available.

Shelter update:

FOH has been full to capacity and using overflow space. They are very close to meeting occupancy limit.  Unclear why the numbers are so high.

The Samaritan Inn is almost full.

Network FY20 Budget and Legislative Priorities:  Pamela reported that the Network is holding meetings with Western MA legislators across the region to share our priorities for the region.  For budget priorities, click here and for legislative priorities click here. Please contact Pamela with any thoughts or if interested in attending the meetings.

Also be sure to sign up for the Annual Resource Fair on June 10 if you haven’t already!
To register to attend: go here.

To register to request table space to share resources: go here

Next Committee meeting: Tuesday, April 16 1 pm – 2 pm, FOH 

Veterans Committee Minutes – 3/14/19

In attendance: Steve Connor, Central Hampshire Veterans Services, Craig Deraway, Soldier On, Mike Hagmaier, Soldier On, Justin Maynard, VA, Gerry McCafferty, Hampden CoC, Emmanuel Owusu, Springfield veterans services, Jesus Pereira, Holyoke VSO, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Stephanie Shaw, Chicopee VSO, Kate Sweetseter-Owens, HUD-VASH, Susan White, VA, Ali Wilson-Pierce, HUD-VASH

Racial Equity in Ending Homelessness training: Pamela reported out on the first of a 3 part training that took place on March 7.  About 100 Network partners participated.  The trainer, Marc Dones, was extremely well-received and the feedback has been excellent.  The two other sessions will take place on April 25 and June 6. The presentation can be found by going to this link.

Network FY20 Budget and Legislative Priorities: Please click here for the Network budget priorities and here for the legislative priorities. Please contact Pamela if you are interested in participating or have any questions. 

Point in Time Count –
Update Hampden County: The 2019 Point in Time Count took place at the end of January.  25 veterans were identified as homeless, an increase from 19 last year (although the general analysis is the increase is a function of random circumstances that particular night since the number dropped to its previous year’s number shortly after the count). There were 4 veterans identified in the family system; otherwise most were in shelters and a small number unsheltered. There was great participation with the VSOs, police departments and Tapestry (especially notable was new partnerships in Holyoke).  

Springfield/Hampden CoC Built for Zero update:  There is a real focus on veterans to demonstrated that getting to “functional zero” is possible.  The largest remaining challenge is housing non-VA eligible veterans. The CoC is continuing to await final VA approval of the Memorandum that will allow the use of HUD-VASH vouchers for 13 non-VA eligible veterans. Meanwhile, systems for quick identification of veteran status and referral at emergency shelters continue to improve and get further refined. A long-term chronically homeless veteran (lived on the streets over 10 years) was just housed at Soldier On.  

There will be a cross-check between the PIT count and the by-name list to see where veterans exist on one list but not the other, and will try to close the gap.
 
3 County CoC Point in Time Count Update
22 unsheltered individuals identified
1 veteran among them
Due to the transition taking place between the CoC lead – from Hilltown CDC to Community Action – there are data systems in transition as well, so more complete data on the PIT count is delayed. 

Integrating veterans into coordinated entry:
We discussed the conversation between CoC leads and DHCD regarding the process and allowability for changing tenant selection plans from first come-first serve to vulnerability based (and therefore capable of being incorporated into coordinated entry).  We got this guidance from DHCD:
DHCD, and CEDAC would both be open to amendments of tenant selection plans that would allow already existing properties with homeless units and with HIF and Home (and maybe others?) to utilize Coordinated Entry.  The process seems pretty straight forward – simply submit the amendment language to start the process. Owner(s) of the affordable housing project(s) should call DHCD and CEDAC first to discuss before putting in any labor revising their Tenant Selection Plan.  This is exciting progress and also only the start of figuring out the complexities of implementing coordinated entry with all veterans at Soldier On and elsewhere. We agreed we would have a follow-up meeting to flesh out some of the challenges. Pamela will reach out to Mike, Sue, Kate, Steve, Ali, Phyllis, Gerry and Sara to coordinate a convenient meeting date. 

VSO’s at Housing Courts: Steve Connor reported that VSO’s are going to housing courts and district courts across the region to be available with resources and support for veterans facing eviction. Good results! 

Other announcements:
Supplemental Security Income training – Monday, April 8, 9 am -12:30 pm, Holyoke Public Library, 250 Chestnut Street, Holyoke. Pamela reminded all of this upcoming training about how to access SSI to help end homelessness and how the benefit relates to eligibility for other resources.  Caitlin Thomas, an SSI disability expert, is leading the training, along with other partners.  Please email Caitlin directly at caitlinthomas@comcast.net to RSVP. 

Opioid Prevention and Treatment training: Wed., April 10, 9 am – 3 pm, Sheraton Springfield Hotel, Springfield, sponsored by the statewide Health Resources in Action. Promising policies and practices will be shared around the topic of opioid overdoes prevention, responses and postvention. Register  here

SAVE THE DATE: The Network’s 3rd Annual Housing/Homelessness Resource Fair for Providers – Monday, June 10, 9 am – 12:30 pm, Holyoke Community College.  We will be inviting our Western MA legislative delegation to attend from 9:30 am – 10:00 am for a welcome and acknowledgment of their support of our efforts. To register to attend: go here. To register to request table space to share resources: go here
Next meeting date: Thursday May 16, 9:30-11 am, Frost 309, HCC

Family Services Committee Minutes – 3/12/19

In attendance: Nicole Blais, Head Start – HCS (Holyoke, Chicopee, Springfield), Marianne Bouthilette Community Action Head Start, Rebecca Burgos, West Springfield Public Schools, Christine Cullen, Holyoke Chicopee Family and Community Program (CFCE), Sara Cummings, Community Action, Dawn DiStefano, Square One, Rosemary Fiedler, HCC, Jennifer Gonzalez-Morales, Holyoke Public Schools, Brenda Garcia, BHN Holyoke FIT, Ryan Howard, HCS Head Start, Jane Lindfors, DTA-DV unit, June Lynds, Community Action Head Start, Luz Marcano, VA, Yeisie Mateo, DCF, Emily Magnifico, Hilltown Community Health Center, Heather Marshall, Elizabeth Freeman Center, Jocelyn Martinez, WomanShelter, Theresa Nicholson, CHD, Marilyn Nunez, VOC, Colleen O’Brien, BHN Early Intervention, Steve Plummer, Springfield Partners, Pamela Schwartz, Network,  Janna Tetrault, Community Action, Janette Vigo, Way Finders, Erica Zayas, VOC

Sign up for the 3rd Annual Housing and Homelessness Resource Fair for Providers on Monday, June 10, 9 am – 12:30 pm, Holyoke Community College. To register to attend: go here. To register to request table space to share resources: go here. 
Note: Western MA Legislators will be invited to attend from 9:30 to 10 am for welcoming comments.

Point in Time Count Update: Please click here for a summary of the Hampden County 2019 PIT data and here for additional breakdown on family data.   The Three County CoC data is in process (delayed due to transition between CoC leads, from Hilltown CDC to Community Action).

Racial Equity in Ending Homelessness training: Pamela reported out on the first of a 3 part training that took place on March 7.  About 100 Network partners participated.  The trainer, Marc Dones, was extremely well-received and the feedback has been excellent.  The presentation can be found by going to this link.

There are 2 other sessions in April and June and Pamela reported the Network’s commitment to continue this work for the duration of the Network. The next 2 sessions will address more concrete actions we can take.  Pamela will continue to report back. 

Head Start and child care discussion:Thanks to our Head Start partners in the region for attending to let us know about their programs and their prioritization process for children experiencing homelessness.  The national group Schoolhouse Connections has launched a campaign to engage with Head Start programs around enrolling more children and families experiencing homelessness.
We learned the following: 

  • homelessness receives a priority for all Head Start programs
  • Holyoke/Chicopee/Springfield Head Start (covers 15 communities) tries to reserve 3% for homeless families; Community Action Head Start (covers from Ware to Turners Falls to West Springfield to Northampton and Amherst) has a point system to determine priority status and just changed their policies to provide more points when homeless
  • infant/todder programs are likely to have longer wait lists.  Otherwise, frequently openings on a rolling basis
  • They address transportation challenges and will do home visits at shelters
  • They will get data on # of children experiencing homelessness in their program for next meeting
  • Square One is not a Head Start program – only offers state vouchers, but the programs work closely together. They are always full but they refer to each other.
  • Recent policy changes – as of March 1 –  in state child care voucher are significant! (1) for “homelessness vouchers” DHCD referral for voucher is no longer required. DHCD and DCF – DV –  funded shelters can refer directly – this is a huge advance in streamlining paperwork; and (2) for “income eligible” vouchers homelessness itself is now considered a “service need” for purposes of establishing eligibility  (where previously a family had to demonstrate 30 hours of other activity)

The group agreed it would be useful to hold a training for front line staff on these state regulatory changes and Head Start.  Pamela will follow-up in the coming weeks.

Coordinated Family and Community Engagement Grants (CFCE): We also discussed this state-funded program that exists in every city and town in the Commonwealth.  The grant is held by different entities, most commonly in schools, sometimes in Head Start programs. The goal is to strength all families and child development for children from birth to age 8.  The group agreed that family shelters could benefit from support in better connecting to this resource. 
Pamela will follow-up with regional CFCE coordinator to pursue a meeting opportunity. 

Other announcements: Network FY20 Budget and Legislative Priorities: Please click here for the Network’s budget priorities and here for the Network’s legislative priorities that will be discussed with legislators and Network partners over the coming weeks.  Please contact Pamela if you are interested in participating or have any questions. 

Supplemental Security Income training – Monday, April 8, 9 am -12:30 pm, Holyoke Public Library, 250 Chestnut Street, Holyoke. Pamela reminded all of this upcoming training about how to access SSI to help end homelessness and how the benefit relates to eligibility for other resources.  Caitlin Thomas, an SSI disability expert, is leading the training, along with other partners.  Please email Caitlin directly at caitlinthomas@comcast.net to RSVP. 

Opioid Prevention and Treatment training: Wed., April 10, 9 am – 3 pm, Sheraton Springfield Hotel, Springfield, sponsored by the statewide Health Resources in Action. Promising policies and practices will be shared around the topic of opioid overdoes prevention, responses and postvention. Register  here

Next meeting date: Tuesday, April 9, 11-12:30, Frost Building, Room 309, Holyoke Community College

3 County Individual Services Meeting Minutes – 3/11/19

Note:The Network’s 3rd Annual Housing/Homelessness Resource Fair for Providers – Monday, June 10, 9 am – 12:30 pm, Holyoke Community College:
To register to attend: go here.
To register to request table space to share resources: go here

In attendance: Elizabeth Bienz, ServiceNet, Steve Connor, Veterans Services, Sara Cummings, Community Action, Eleanor Dodson, ServiceNet, Julie Federman, Town of Amherst, Erin Forbush, ServiceNet, Andy Klatka, Eliot CHS Homeless Services, Lisa Goldsmith, Community Action, Jay Levy, Eliot Services, Jade Lovett, Craig’s Doors, Katie Miernecki, ServiceNet, Theresa Nicholson, Center for Human Development, Aidan Novo, Craig’s Doors, Brendan Plante, Eliot Services, Mena Regan, CHD, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Kate Shapiro, DMH, Michael Trembley, ServiceNet, Hayley Wood, Easthampton Council on Aging, Josh Wren, ServiceNet

Coordinated Entry update: currently on hold as the transition between CoCs has created some complications. Community Action is working on it and will keep us all posted.

Shelter Plus Care beds: we learned more as a group from both DMH and ServiceNet about how these beds are allocated. They are funded with CoC dollars through ServiceNet. Eligibility for the housing subsidy requires DMH eligibility (for support services). The challenge can happen in the process of obtaining DMH eligibility. This is a statewide issue, not unique to the 3 county region. Right now there are possibly 2 shelter plus care vouchers available which are not being utilized b/c of the gap in DMH eligibility. We agreed we would discuss this more as a sub-group. Pamela will reach out to Erin Forbush, Jay Levy, Theresa Nicholson Elizabeth Bienz, Chris Zabik, Kate Shaprio and Dan Bustler (sp?) to participate in this meeting.

SMOC housing units in Easthampton: We followed up after the last meeting regarding vacancies in these units. Various partners reached out and Pamela received an update prior to this meeting from SMOC that reported significant progress in filling the vacancies. There are currently 5 units out of total 11 that are still available and receiving applications. We agreed to stay in touch on this and hope for quick filling of vacancies.

Racial Equity in Ending Homelessness training: Pamela reported out on the first of a 3 part training that took place on March 7. About 100 Network partners participated. The trainer, Marc Dones, was extremely well-received and the feedback has been excellent. The presentation can be found by going to this link.

There are 2 other sessions in April and June and Pamela reported the Network’s commitment to continue this work for the duration of the Network. The next 2 sessions will address more concrete actions we can take. Pamela will continue to report back.

Network FY20 budget and legislative priorities: Click here for the FY20 Budget Priorities and here for the FY20 legislative priorities. The Network is scheduling meetings with Western MA legislators across the region to discuss its FY20 budget and legislative priorities. Please contact Pamela Schwartz at pschwartz@westernmasshousingfirst.org if you are interested in seeing the schedule and participating in any meetings.

Supplemental Security Income training – Monday, April 8, 9 am -12:30 pm, Holyoke Public Library, 250 Chestnut Street, Holyoke. Pamela reminded all of this upcoming training about how to access SSI to help end homelessness and how the benefit relates to eligibility for other resources. Caitlin Thomas, an SSI disability expert, is leading the training, along with other partners. Please email Caitlin directly at caitlinthomas@comcast.net to RSVP.

Opioid Prevention and Treatment training: Wed., April 10, 9 am – 3 pm, Sheraton Springfield Hotel, Springfield, sponsored by the statewide Health Resources in Action. Promising policies and practices will be shared around the topic of opioid overdoes prevention, responses and postvention. Register here

Shelter updates: Grove Street, Cot Shelter, Craig’s Doors – all shelters are full (over-full) with wait lists.

Big picture discussion on meeting structure/location, etc.
The group checked in on how best to promote our goals of advancing our regional model of Housing First, including diversion, harm reduction and housing focused, all within the coordinated entry system. Jade shared the challenge of limited staff capacity alongside a desire to participate in the regional effort. In addition to their seasonal shelter, they are running a rapid rehousing program, case management, community breakfasts and a daytime resource center. We agreed that the OrgCode trainings were very useful. ServiceNet shared that they are in the process of implementing changes that were reflected in the trainings. Erin noted the variations within each county and the need to account for them in the change process. We agreed it would be useful to spend time as a group sharing more on this process. We acknowledged that the transition between CoC leads offers both a short-term challenge and opportunity for the long-term. We affirmed meeting continuing to meet at our regularly scheduled time and place for now.

Next meeting date: Monday, April 8, 1 pm, ServiceNet, 296 Nonotuck Street, Northampton

Career Services Resources Fair a big success!

Congratulations and thanks to the 18 resource providers and over 40 provider participants who joined together on Friday, February 15 to share and learn about resources to help create stable housing through stable employment.

Click here for the hand-out summarizing resources shared at the Fair and contact information.

Special thanks to Representative Aaron Vega of Holyoke for being there and his steadfast support of our Network’s mission.

And thanks to MassHire Holyoke for their generous hosting of this event.

We look forward to sharing in this opportunity again as part of our larger annual Homelessness Resources Fair that will take place on Monday, June 10, 9:30 am – 12:30 pm, Holyoke Community College (more to come but please feel free to save the date now!).c

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting Minutes – 2/13/19

In attendance: Emily English, Gandara Center, Lisa Goldsmith, Community Action, Sharon Hall-Smith, Gandara Center, Charlie Knight, Rainville, Gerry McCafferty, Hampden County CoC, Magnus Monroe, Davis Foundation, Rebecca Muller, Gandara Center, Lizzy Ortiz, Mercy Medical, Jean Rogers, CHD, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Kelsey Wessels, DIAL/SELF


EOHHS Youth Grant Updates3 County update:Focusing right now on needs assessment and winter sheltering.  Meeting with ServiceNet to discuss potential accommodations for youth in their shelter (while moving towards a youth only shelter).  Looking at a “youth protocol” for shelters based on a protocol developed by Father Bill’s shelter on the South Shore. On the assessment, will likely retain a consultant to assist with the project; currently gathering information. 


Hampden County Update:

  • Gandara (sub-grantee) has housed 4 people with long-term RRH assistance. Gandara is working on the youth shelter space but in the meanwhile is also working with Friends of the Homeless on the same youth protocol issue. Gerry is facilitating this conversation.  Above all the priority is to ensure youth who enter the adult shelter are quickly connected to youth specific services. Gerry will send to Pamela Father Bill’s protocol and she will send it out to the committee.  (Note post meeting: the link is here.)
  • CHD is close to hiring prevention and outreach person.
  • Retained consultant to do 3 things:  (1) needs assessment; (2) help with youth engagement and creation of a youth action board and (3) to improve chances of getting federal Youth Homelessness Demonstration project grant (3rd chance happening this Spring).  Hired Matt Aronson consulting (used to work at HUD, created YHD program). Currently cataloguing all services and collecting all contacts for needs assessment. Gerry sent out initial draft documents to the committee, requesting input. 
  • Consultants will be in town March 1 and March 8.  Kick-off meeting on March 1, 9 -10:30 am – Union Station, Springfield, 2nd floor
  • Hopeful that this planning and assessment process will provide for greater outreach opportunities when the state youth count occurs in May. 

Data reporting for both CoCs: Because this state grant requires some data that is not required by HMIS, e.g., LGBTQ status, 3 county and Hampden are working with Green River consulting firm to create an intake within the system which will collect all the required data. Currently being tested, will roll out completely soon.


Monthly data report for this committee:  We agreed it would be useful to get summary data on the grants on the:

# of youth referred
# of youth engaged
# of youth housed 

Also it would be useful to put these grant outcomes in the context of all youth housing work, i.e., “how many youth were housed this month?”


Hampden County Foster Care/Homelessness Project:Foster Care Intervention Project
Through the Hampden CoC’s work with the national Built for Zero campaign, it got connected to a nationwide study on the relationship between foster care and youth homelessness. A consulting firm, along with a graduate program in NYC, funded by a private family foundation (The Larson Family Foundation), focuses on “human-centered” designs of social programs. They interviewed a number of communities and selected two nationwide: Springfield/Hampden County and Phoenix, AZ.  We won the lottery! 

They will be doing a deep investigation on the journey from foster care to homelessness; will design interventions based on what they learn from our community, informed by data, will help implement pilot projects in response and study their impact, and eventually roll out these recommended practices nationwide.

There was an initial meeting last week where they explained the project as a whole. First step is “journey mapping” – pulling in the expertise from service providers and youth directly, on what happens in the journey from foster care to homelessness.  First session in Springfield is on March 1, 11 am – 1:30 pm.  Gerry will send out additional info to shelter and youth providers to invite participation.  This will be a 2 year timeline for the whole project, including summer piloting and initial evaluation, then determining interventions and implementing the following year and evaluating.  

Gerry has been in touch with Linn Torto of Mass ICHH who is connecting Gerry with the DCF and DYS Assistant Secretaries.  Will also reach out to DMH. 

OrgCode training report-out:  Lisa, Emily, Sharon and Pamela spoke with Erin Wixsten after the “awesome shelter” training to discuss youth specific strategies.  Click here for the notes.
Family RFI Response:  Youth providers were involved in providing their input to the Family RFI. Click here for the final submission which included young parent recommendations.


DCF Training – May 23, 10 am: We established our working group: Lisa, Jean, Gerry, Emily – Pamela will coordinate a meeting in a couple of weeks and touch base with Elorie Stevens at DCF to confirm plans. 


HUD PIT count Update:The count took place on and around Jan. 30. Emily reported on an outreach event at ROCA where 20 youth were engaged and completed surveys.  The data is being sent to Gerry now (unclear how many were actually homeless).


While it is too soon to have youth-specific results on the count, Gerry reported that 19 unsheltered individuals were identified in Holyoke; in all of Hampden County the unsheltered count was approx. 40, so Holyoke constituted half.  The high Holyoke count is most likely a reflection of the strengthening network within Holyoke – across the police dept., Tapestry, Eliot and other agencies. It’s a paradoxical reflection of progress to actually identify more of the population that is out there.


In 3 county, Pamela was able to relay Jay’s report of 28 total unsheltered individuals counted. 


Career Services Resource Fair: coming up Friday, Feb. 1, 10 am – 12 noon, MassHire Holyoke, 850 High Street, Holyoke

Save the date: 3rd annual Housing and Homelessness Resource Fair for all providers: Monday, June 10, 9:30 am – 12:30 pm, HCC.

Next meeting dates: 
March 20, 10:30 – 12 noon, TBD
April 17, 9:30 am, HCC, KC 302
May 8, 9:30 am, TBD
June 5, 9:30 am, HCC, KC 303

Family RFI Response Submitted!

The Western MA Network to End Homelessness is pleased to report its submission to DHCD’s Family Homelessness System Request for Information (RFI). Please see the Network response here.

By way of context, copied below is the Network’s “background information” for this response:
The Western Massachusetts Network to End Homelessness is the collaborative vehicle for preventing and ending homelessness in the four counties of Western Massachusetts with a Housing First approach. This RFI response is an outgrowth of a series of meetings through the Network’s Family Services Committee, a committee comprised of over 100 members, including a broad cross-section of all housing and shelter providers, and partners in health care, substance addiction and mental health, domestic violence, child care, education, and workforce development, as well as state agency representatives from DHCD, DPH, DCF and DMH. This Committee selected a targeted number of questions that it felt would best reflect the region’s proposed vision to ending family homelessness. The Network’s Family Services Committee seeks DHCD’s adoption of its recommendations, and looks forward to continuing the work in partnership with each other and DHCD to prevent and end homelessness in Western Massachusetts and the Commonwealth as a whole.

Congratulations to all for the excellent work and the amazing partnership!

3 County Individual Services Committee Minutes – 2/11/19


In attendance: Sam Cunningham, Resource Center/Cot Shelter/ServiceNet, Eleanor Dodson, ServiceNet, Erin Forbush, Chris Hughes, ServiceNet, Jay Levy, Eliot Services, Brendan Plante, Eliot Services, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Kate Shapiro, DMH, Mike Trembley, Hampshire County Resource Center/ServiceNet, Hayley Wood, Easthampton Council on Aging

Announcements/Updates:

  • Kate Shapiro, DMH: at least one Shelter Plus Care voucher is available – Eliot Services is connecting with individuals who are eligible to use it 
  • Jay Levy, Eliot Services: updated the group on CSO’s new 2-year SAMHSA grant a Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic – CCBHC program) that will run out of  Northampton, Greenfield and Amherst and provide outreach services to dually diagnosed individuals who are reticent to receive clinical services – an exciting partnership opportunity for housing providers.  They are also launching a Living Room model drop-in program (a similar model exists in Springfield through BHN). They are hiring now and hopefully will be up and running within 2 months.  
  • Coordinated Entry Update: With Nikki Riello’s departure from Hilltown CDC (she was the keeper of the list) and the CoC transition to Community Action, there is not a new update on coordinated entry or the by-name list.
  • ServiceNet update: Greenfield and Northampton beds are full.  Beds are available in Pittsfield. 2 female beds for PSH (through MHSA contract) (3 bedroom apt; chronicity is not a requirement). Barton’s Crossing also has beds available (within the shelter setting; good for early recovery).  Do not need to be chronic. 
  • SMOC: has 5 openings in Easthampton; also an opening in Chicopee.  We agreed that Pamela and Hayley and Mike would be contacting Terry Maxey, director, to gain a better understanding of why these units are not being filled.

Discussion of eligibility flow for Shelter Plus Care vouchers:We discussed at great length the current system challenges of expedient use of shelter plus car vouchers.  DMH must establish eligibility for these units, and individuals being assessed for them are linked through ACCS (Adult Community Clinical Services), a ServiceNet program that is funded through DMH.  Right now, ACCS does NOT intersect with 3 county’s Coordinated Entry system.  It was agreed we need to fix that!  Erin will reach out to the ACCS staff person and invite them to this meeting.  We also agreed that in order to close the gap between DMH assessment and timely use of an available voucher, the system should move towards assessing eligibility (assuming willing individual, of course) PRIOR to voucher becoming available; that this eligibility info is part of the data tracking in the CE list so as soon as the voucher becomes available, the list can provide quick distribution of it. This requires coordination with ACCS which is our next step in the coordination process.


Point in Time Count Update from January, 2019:
Jay reported a total of 28 unsheltered individuals in the 3 county region:7 in Amherst, 6 in Northampton, 6 in Pittsfield, 3 in Greenfield, 3 in Hadley, 2 in Great Barrington, 1 in Leverett.Shelters were all over-capacity. 
Outreach by Julie Federman, Amherst Homelessness Systems:Julie Federman reached out to Pamela to discuss how best to approach the follow-up on “how to run an awesome shelter” so that the response is regionally developed.  We agreed to initially use this meeting as the place to start this dialogue.  Pamela will invite Julie (and she can invite others; in particular Craig’s Doors) to join us at our next meeting on March 11. We agreed this is an exciting step forward to expand the scope of this important discussion.


We also discussed how “systems work” in the 3 county region must incorporate the THREE different sub-systems within, one for each county, due to the wide geography and variations in population for each area.  This geographic expanse brings an additional challenge to the coordination and we recognize the goal is to create the shared best practices that join shelter and re-housing practice across the region. 


Racial Equity in Homelessness Training coming up:Pamela reminded all of this 3-part training – March 7, April 25, June 6 – that will launch our region’s process to have racial equity inform Western Mass.’ homelessness response system. Please let Pamela know if you want additional information. 


Next meeting date: March 11, 1 pm, ServiceNet, 196 Nonotuck Street, Florence