Category Archives: Veterans

Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes – 1/12/18

Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes – January 12, 2018
In attendance: Ben Cluff, DPH-Veterans, Steve Connor, Veterans Services, Keegan Hersey, Veterans Inc, Sue Moorman, VA, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Kate Sweetster-Owens, Alison Wilson-Pierce, HUD-VASH
Discussion of new vouchers for VHA ineligible veterans: The group discussed HUD’s recent decision to allow Soldier On to convert 25 HUD VASH vouchers to use for VHA-ineligible veterans.  This is great news since many of the chronically homeless veterans are VHA ineligible.  This also raises the question of how those 25 vouchers will be allocated across the region (Soldier On has its veterans in GPD beds who need to be permanently housed and most of Hampden County’s remaining homeless vets are VHA ineligible).  The group agreed it would be useful to have a meeting across both CoC’s to discuss the allocation process and how best to collaborate.  The group agreed Pamela will reach out to: Mike Hagmaier (Soldier On), Gerry McCafferty (Hampden County CoC),  Dave Christopolis (Three County CoC) and Sue White (VA) to start scheduling (and welcome them to invite any one else).
The group also agreed that this meeting would be an opportunity to discuss sub-regional communication and coordination around each CoC’s coordinated entry efforts in light of the veteran population’s mobility up and down the Route 91 corridor.
Hampden County CoC veterans: Kate reported a meeting with After Incarcerated Support Services (AISS) to discuss housing options for sex offenders since there are several chronically homeless veterans whose sex offender status is creating a barrier to housing.  Unfortunately, the options are so limited to virtually non-existent.  Pamela shared the Network’s working group experience on this issue – and how the group has become dormant due to a lack of statewide leadership on this (a commission to address the problems of leveling and housing barriers among other problems did not produce any meaningful results).   The restriction of housing options for sex offenders on both the federal and state levels is an intractable barrier to permanent housing for this population.We agreed we should raise this  issue in the Network’s upcoming meeting with Bob Pulster of the US Interagency Council on Homelessness.
Three County CoC: Soldier On is launching its 1-800 coordinated entry phone number next week!  Stay tuned.
Nikki Riello also provided this update by email on the current CoC veterans count:
192 homeless veterans
2 on the streets
9 chronically homeless
approximately 55 moves into permanent housing from 12/1-1/10
Meeting frequency:
The group decided to experiment with meeting every other month since there are monthly CoC-based veteran meetings happening focused on the by-name lists and housing efforts.  The group agreed it would meet next as a sub-group around the Soldier On voucher issue and then pose meeting dates for March.  Pamela will poll “regulars” in the group to help land on a date when people are able to attend.
Next meeting date: to be determined.

Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes – 12/1/17

Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes – 12/1/17
In attendance: Beth Barbra, Veterans, Inc., Steve Connor, Central Hampshire Veterans Services, Pat DiGregorio, Veterans Inc., Keegan Hersey, Veterans Inc., Nikki Riello, Hilltown Community Development Corp (Three County CoC), Kate Sweetster-Owens, Ali Wilson-Pierce, HUD/VASH.
Hampden County CoC Update:  The CoC is rolling out its new online system that supports coordinated entry. Kate, Katherine and Barb have all been trained on it and are finding it easy to use; they see it as an extremely useful tool for gaining quick info on a veteran’s priority status and for understanding the most appropriate next steps to assist a veteran.  The system also provides real-time data on veterans in the family shelter system, which the CoC has never had before. This will make it easier to make sure those veteran households are connecting to veteran services soon after shelter entry.
Hampden CoC  veteran numbers continue to be low, but it is challenged by some very difficult cases, which don’t have clear paths to resolution.
Three County CoC Update: Nikki provided an update.  They are working with Sue White of the VA to get HUD/VASH updates into the overall tracking system (to keep track of who has been housed).  The current count is at 13 homeless veterans (outside of Soldier On’s system where there are a  couple hundred).   The 3 county veterans committee is continuing to meet monthly to review its by-name list.  Housing placements are happening.
Soldier On housing: The prioritization process is still being worked out between Soldier On and HUD/VASH for the new Agawam housing: Soldier On runs by a first-come, first-serve in terms of processing its applications; the VA is hoping to allocate the units based on priority need.  Conversations are underway to come to a  resolution.  There are currently roughly 20 units left in Agawam.
Responding to Puerto Rican veterans: The group discussed the complexities arising from the arrival of PR veterans in the Springfield area. The usual prioritization system does not apply and there is hope that some accommodation will be made so that these special circumstances can be taken into account, e.g., “over-assets” by virtue of owning property in PR but the property is not habitable.  Discussions with the VA are underway but it is unclear who is in a decision making position. It was recommended to contact the Holyoke VSO office (Jesus) with questions regarding PR veterans.
Statewide Update: Steve noted that at a previous meeting it was said that the Central/West region had 72 unused HUD VASH vouchers.  This was confusing and did not comport with the West’s sense of the numbers.  One theory was that this number was coming from the Worcester area.  It was also noted that HUD/VASH positions are not being filled in both Worcester and Springfield, which adds to a slow-down in the allocation process.
Network Update:  Pamela reported the good news that thanks to DHCD, the Network will be funded to continue its work through at least FY18.  The Leadership Council will still use this opportunity to retain a consultant to explore with Network partners how the Network can best meet the region’s needs in the years ahead.  Stay tuned for more on that in the new year.
Announcements: 
  • Chapin Mansion is looking for a live-in house manager – a great opportunity for a qualified veteran
  • Hampden County got 8 new HUD/VASH vouchers – good news
Next meeting: Friday, January 26, 9 am-10:30 am, Northampton Senior Center 

Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes – 10/27/17

Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes – October 27, 2017

In attendance: Steve Connor, Veterans Services, Sue Moorman, HUD-VASH, Katherine Persons, Veterans, Inc., Pamela Schwartz, Network, Kate Sweester-Owens, HUD-VASH, Allie Wilson-Pierce, HUD-VASH 

Our discussion this meeting focused on the debrief from the Network’s Leadership Council meeting on 10/25 in which it was decided that due to the funding situation (the Network has not yet been funded this year and it is unlikely it will be), the LC will use this opportunity to review Network functions and determine (with the help of a facilitator) how best to sustain the important value of the Network.
The group discussion reached consensus on the following:
  • the Network veteran meetings are very valuable for ensuring communication up and down the 91 corridor and for providing opportunities for innovative collaboration (e.g., the implementation of new systems to identify veterans in Hampden County Corrections flowed from these meetings). Everyone in attendance felt very committed to continuing to meet (and attributed this meeting’s low attendance to known conflicts, noting high level of attendance in preceding meetings)
  • Meeting every 2 months, alternating between Springfield and Northampton would be sufficient to accomplish their goals
  • Rotating the coordination of scheduling and reminder notice/agenda creation could be accomplished by committee members
  • At our next meeting we will discuss assigning “volunteer” facilitation roles and schedule meetings for 2018
  • Pamela will relay this discussion to the Network’s interim steering Committee which is meeting on Nov. 20 to discuss next steps for Network planning.
  • Confirmed next meeting date (previously scheduled) for Friday, Dec. 1, 9:15 am, MHA