Category Archives: Veterans

Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes – 9/8/17

Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes
September 8, 2017
 

In attendance:  Dan Boyea, Hampden County Sheriff’s Department, Keegan Hersey, Veterans Inc., Sue Moorman, VA, Katherine Person, Veterans Inc, Nikki Riello, Hilltown CDC, Denise Rivera, Friends of the Homeless/CSO, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Kate Sweetster-Owens, HUD VASH, Stephanie Tonelli, Friends of the Homeless/CSO, Sabrina Willard, Soldier On

Hampden County Sheriff Department Update:  Dan relayed his thanks to the VSO Association (Chris Lizotte chair, with help from Steve Connor) for providing the necessary letter requesting that contact info on current veteran inmates get forwarded to the appropriate municipality’s VSO for follow-up in the service of public safety.  This is the request they needed to make it possible for the Sheriff’s Department to provide this information. Referrals and connections are happening now (both with inmates traveling to the VSO and with the VSO traveling to the correctional facility).  This is very exciting progress and promises to reduce homelessness for formerly incarcerated veterans. Thanks to Dan and to the VSO’s for their leadership on this! We agreed that this collaboration could offer a model statewide and that we will be sure DVS is aware.
Nikki Riello of the 3 County CoC will pursue contacts in the Berkshire County Corrections to try to replicate this arrangement.
Dan also announced that he just received a promotion to Grants Coordinator for the system, but the good news is that either he or another from the Sheriff’s Dept. will continue to attend these meetings.  Congratulations to Dan!
Hampden County by-name list: At the latest meeting earlier this week, there were only 9 veterans on the list.  Great progress is being made.
Three County by-name list: Outside of Soldier On, there are 10 veterans on the list, 4 of whom are unsheltered. At Soldier On, there are 190, a significant drop from the aprox. 250 formerly sheltered there (many transitioned into permanent supportive housing).
Other 3 County updates: working on veteran referral form for other providers (modeled after Hampden County CoC referral form); working on outreach to VSO’s in more municipalities
Announcements:
  • Soldier On’s dedication of its new veteran housing (Gordon H. Mansfield Veteran Housing) in Agawam will take place on September 18, 1 pm, 702 South Westfield Street, Feeding Hills. 51 units of veteran housing, move-in date slated for end of Sept.
  • Stand Down is happening on Friday, 9/29 – Greek Cultural Center, 16 Plainfield St. Springfield
  • Northampton Housing Authority now has a trickle of HUD VASH vouchers again (formerly all used for Agawam housing but that need has no been met so acquiring vouchers through attrition, etc.).
Keegan’s update from Maine: Keegan of Veterans Inc attended a veterans committee meeting convened by the ME CoC (only one CoC for the state).  It was interesting to see their emphasis on governance and the level of prescriptive detail when contact with a veteran is made. Their goal is to ensure sustainability of the system regardless of actual individuals involved. We agreed this is an important element that deserves more attention in this region.
Keegan’s other update on Grants Per Diem (GPD): this grant in Shrewsbury is changing as of 10/1, transferring more beds to a clinical case management model.  All part of the overall shift in allocation of beds in the GPD program.
Next meeting dates:
October 27, Northampton, 9:00 -10:30
Friday, December 1, MHA, 9:15-10:30

Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes – 7/28/17

Veterans Committee Meeting
July 28, 2017
 
In attendance: Dan Boyea, Hampden County Sheriff’s Office, Ben Cluff, MA DPH, Keegan Hersey, Veterans Inc, Sue Moorman, HUD-VASH, Nikki Riello, Hilltown CDC, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Kate Sweetster-Owens, HUD-VASH, Sabrina Willard, Soldier On
 
Hampden County Housing Resource Referral Guide for Veterans:
Gerry asked the committee to review this housing resource form.
Feedback included:
  • VASH corrections: does not require active duty; can have dishonorable discharge if have a service connection; do not have to be disabled; only real bar is level 3 sex offender (life-time registry)
  • For Veterans Inc: disqualified if dishonorably discharged (unless service connected)
  • Explain acronyms (e.g., VISPDAT and everything else) – not user friendly to a typical case manager
  • Refers to entering into Homelink – presuming that is obsolete as system is about to change?
  • Add to VSO section: to find VSO’s from other communities go to http://www.mass.gov/veterans/utility/local-veterans-service-officers-3.html or more general info page – http://www.mass.gov/veterans/ – which leads you to VSO listing
Three County CoC Update
Nikki Riello reported from the 3 County CoC; she was recently hired by the 3 County CoC to manage the veterans chronic homelessness by-name lists.  She was referred to this meeting by the Jim Clark, the Pittsfield VSO.  She is happy to learn of the Network and the work going on with the Hampden County CoC.  Pamela will connect her with Gerry and referred her to their regular by-name list meetings to exchange information and approaches.
Nikki reported that there are currently 25 veterans on the by-name list (not including Soldier On; still working on connecting with them).  Nikki is meeting with providers to obtain relevant information and update the lists.
Nikki will reach out to Steve Connor to obtain the hand-out produced by the veterans committee last year that summarizes all veterans resources and the referral process so she can provide that to providers in her meetings.  We agreed the challenge is in continuing to educate both management and staff (especially in view of turnover) about conducting quick referrals to veterans services as soon as veteran status is identified. Ben will also reach out to Jay Sacchetti to encourage widespread distribution of this information among ServiceNet staff.
Hampden County Corrections Update
Dan Boyea reported that there are currently roughly 37 incarcerated veterans.  Katherine Person will check in with Steve about connecting with Chris Lizotte of West Springfield (head of the Western MA VSO’s) to obtain a letter from the VSO’s association to the jail requesting to be kept updated about veterans in the jail so they can reach out to them and support their re-entry and public safety.  This will facilitate information sharing.
New ServiceNet SAMHSA grant
ServiceNet received a new SAMHSA grant that will provide case management services for homeless individuals who also have mental health/substance use issues.  Veterans are a high priority.  Please click here for the referral form.  Erin Forbush is the contact at: eforbush@servicenet.org
New substance abuse services directory available
Ben Cluff advised us that an updated director is available.  Please click here.
VASH voucher update/available housing for VASH-ineligible vets
Sue Moorman reported that the VA is uncharacteristically out of HUD VASH vouchers because they have been allocated to Soldier On’s new Agawam housing (administered by the Northampton Housing Authority).  They are finding vouchers where possible through Way Finders if there is a change in circumstance.  Also, if families are involved, referring to SSVF.
Agawam is also accepting applications for VA ineligible veterans.  Contact Colin Flynn at cflynn@wesoldieron.org for more information.
FY18 State Budget Update:
Pamela reported on the current outcomes of the Governor’s vetoes, subject to legislative override (but still subject to the Governor’s 9C budget cuts in view of revenue shortfall) that will impact resources for veterans:
  • Elimination of Network earmark – $0 funding
  • Elimination of Berkshire Regional Housing Authority
  • Elimination of youth housing and services funding (serves 18-24 year olds)
  • Elimination of RAFT eligibility expansion (reducing RAFT from $15m to $13m) that would have made RAFT available to individuals
  • Elimination of New Lease program funding
  • Reduction in Housing Consumer Education funding
  • Reduction in Tenancy Preservation Program funding expansion that would have provided for “further upstream” eviction prevention
The legislature now has the opportunity to override the Governor’s vetoes which they will likely take up in September.  Please stay tuned for advocacy alerts.
Next meeting: Friday, September 8, 9:15 am – 10:30 am, Mental Health Association, Springfield (note it’s not our usual last Friday in August due to summer schedules).

Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes – 6/30/17

Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes
June 30, 2017

 

In attendance:  Beth Barbara, Veterans Inc, Dan Boyea, Hampden County Sheriff, Steve Connor, Central Hampshire Veterans Services, David Felty, SAVE, Keegan Hersey, Veterans Inc, Netshari Ortiz, Soldier On, Katherine Person, Veterans Inc, Pamela Schwartz, Network 

Hampden County By-Name List Update:

As reported via email by Gerry McCafferty: 13 homeless veterans, plus any veterans who are in transitional housing at 52 Maple Court, which is operated by the Bilingual Veterans Outreach Center.  We do not have good data or regular updates on the people staying there. Of the 13 veterans we know about:

  • 9 are in shelter and 4 are unsheltered
  • 4 are chronically homeless
  • Eligibility status: 1 is VHA eligible (individual had VASH and did not use it; plan is to apply for Soldier On Agawam housing; 4 are only eligible for SSVF (they are working with Vets Inc or Soldier On); 5 are not eligible for any veteran homeless/housing program; 3 eligibility status not yet known (1 is new; 2 are unsheltered in Chicopee/Holyoke and Eliot is working with them separate from by-name list meetings)

Follow-up clarifying question from group: what does it mean that 5 are not eligible for any veteran homeless/housing program.  Dishonorable discharge? Or calling themselves veterans but not in fact veterans – but if so, then why still on the list at all?  Pamela will relay to Gerry and report back.

Three County Update:

Steve Connor reported a recent disappointment that Three County’s by-name list showed that 3 new veterans were in non-veteran family shelter and there had been no referrals made to the veterans services providers. Some gaps need to be closed through staff training, especially in light of turnover.  Steve will be following up with the family provider and the 3 County CoC to see what support can be provided.  The good news is that the existence of the by-name list revealed this gap!  The group acknowledged the positive process that is underway.

Steve also reported that the the Three County CoC, through Soldier On funds, recently hired a staff person to be administer the by-name lists  This is also a very promising development.

Family Homelessness Resource Fair Debrief:

Everyone agreed that the family homelessness resource fair of 6/8/17 was a great success.  The veterans providers felt it was a great opportunity to share resources to other providers and to network more generally.  All are on board for doing it again next year.

Pamela announced the offer of space from Holyoke Community College at the Kittredge Center and the determination of a date:  Thursday, June 14, 9 am – 1 pm.  HCC has generously provided the large multi-purpose room and 4 classrooms for break-out groups. The group is looking forward to working on it next year!

Statewide Updates:

Steve reported on the collaboration between the Division of Veterans Services and the Department of Corrections.  The SAVE team is now going into the DOC to provide support services and referrals to veterans.  For Western MA, the closest state correctional facility is in Worcester; however, there are approximately 100 DOC inmates at the county jails in Western MA, so the collaboration is still relevant for Western MA.

Hampden County Sheriff efforts to identify veterans:

Dan reported the great progress in identifying veterans who are in the Hampden County Jail.  First, it was discovered that the Jail actually had SQUARES and the capacity to identify veterans – this was great (and surprising) news.  Roughly 30 veterans are currently residing in the jail system. Now that connections are being made the data is being run and veterans are being referred to Veterans Court.  Next up is getting the data on veteran inmates to the Veterans Services Officers from the appropriate area (vast majority in Ludlow, some others in Springfield and Chicopee).  Dan’s plan is to work with the VSO’s to request contact info in the service of public safety.  This should enable direct outreach and service provision within 60 days of inmates’ release.  We all acknowledged this significant progress in identifying and reaching veterans in the Hampden County jail system.

Network Outreach to new VSO’s:

It was noted that there are new VSO’s that should be invited to the Network: Jesus Ferrara in Holyoke; Stephanie Shaw in Chicopee and Lena (need last name) in Longmeadow.  Pamela will follow-up with Steve to get contact info.

Next meeting date: Friday, July 28, 9 am – 10:30 am, Northampton Senior Center

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