Category Archives: Veterans

Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes 9/5/18

Veterans Committee Meeting Committee Minutes
9/5/18
In attendance:  Heather Cahillane, Soldier On, Janice Humason, FOH/CSO, Gerry McCafferty, Hampden County CoC, Lizzy Ortiz, Mercy Medical, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Stephanie Tonelli, FOH/CSO, Catherine Torres, FOH/CSO
Built for Zero Update – click here for the report 
note: the report is titled August but the numbers listed are through July, 2018
The numbers are creeping up a bit but the analysis suggests that that is a function of more veterans willing to self-identify as word gets around re: housing options and support. We noted how it is important to explicitly explain these upticks to the extent they are a paradoxical reflection of progress in the system.
It was also noted that there were zero placements in July and August, a reflection of the challenge in finding affordable and suitable housing (a segue to the later topic on the approval of HUD VASH vouchers for VA ineligible veterans!).
The group discussed increasing coordination with the Three County CoC to better identify veterans that are moving between the sub-regions so as to best understand veterans’ status and needed outreach/support.  Committee members will reach out to 3 County CoC to learn meeting schedule and will attend.
HUD VASH vouchers for VA ineligible veterans:  We are still experiencing an extremely frustrating challenge with HUD’s bureaucracy as the only thing standing in the way of using these vouchers for VA ineligible veterans is HUD approval. Gerry is reaching out to Bob Pulser of US ICCH for assistance. The community is at the ready to house 8-10 VA ineligible veterans as soon as the vouchers and support service plan (with ServiceNet) is approved. We will keep pushing!
Built for zero learning sessions – Gerry put the word out that the next learning session is October 10-12 in Detroit.  Expenses paid. Participants must commit to participating in improvement projects between learning sessions. Please contact Gerry if interested.
Network update:
  •  The Network was allocated its $125,000 earmark in this FY19 budget.  The Steering Committee will be meeting next week to discuss its allocation across the region and will report back.
Next meeting date:
Wednesday, October 3
2 pm – 2:30 pm (case conferencing to follow)
Friends of the Homeless,
755 Worthington Street, Springfield

Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes – 8/1/18

Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes
August 1, 2018
In attendance: Grechar Aquino, Friends of the Homeless, Janice Humason, Friend of the Homeless, Nichole King, Friends of the Homeless, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Sabrina McGill, Soldier On, Katherine Person, Veterans Inc, Denise Rivera, Friends of the Homeless, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Kate Sweetster-Owens, VA, Stephanie Tonelli, FOH
Built for Zero Update:  Please click here for the latest numbers on veterans (19 homeless veterans as of the end of June).  Last month 3 veterans were housed.  Making progress!
VHA-Ineligible vouchers.  Many of the homeless veterans on the by-name list are VHA ineligible. We are waiting on HUD’s approval of the MOU signed by the Northampton Housing Authority and ServiceNet that would allow for the use of HUD VASH vouchers for VHA ineligible veterans. Hampden County is hoping to house 8 or 9 veterans with these vouchers.  Gerry and Steve Connor are trying hard to move along the process and we are hoping for release of the vouchers very soon.
FY19 State Budget Update:  The final budget was signed a week ago. There were many positive outcomes for homelessness and housing, including an increase in funding for RAFT ($20 million statewide!) and the availability of this resource to individuals (at least $3 million).  Another exciting development is the increase in funding for youth homelessness, $3.5 million statewide, a massive increase relative to last year’s $675,000.  Please go to the Western MA Network blog – http://westernmasshousingfirst.org – to get more detailed budget updates (and please subscribe to it if you haven’t already!).
Network training calendar for FY19: Pamela shared the update on the Network’s plan to schedule targeted trainings for the year, drawing on the enthusiastic interest demonstrated at the Resource Fair.  The Network Steering Committee received the committees’ feedback and agreed to support a series of topical trainings throughout the year, culminating in the Resource Fair in June. Based on the level of interest at the fair, the Network will aim to schedule the workshops “Overcoming Tenant Screening Barriers” and “Homelessness and the Opioid Epidemic” in the early part of this year.  Please stay tuned for an email inviting your additional input.
Next meeting date: Wednesday, September 5, 2 pm-2:30 pm, FOH.

Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes – 6/6/18

Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes – June 6, 2018

In attendance: Grechar Aquino, Friends of the Homeless, Heather Cahillane, Soldier, Steve Connor, Veterans Services, Craig Deraway, SoldierOn, Janice Humason, FOH, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Digno Ortiz, FOH, Lizzy Ortiz, Mercy Medical Center, Katherine Person, Veterans, Inc., Kate Sweetster-Owens, HUD-VASH, Stephanie Tonelli, FOH, Alison Wilson-Pierce, HUD VASH

 
Update on Non-VA Eligible HUD VASH vouchers:

Great news!  Thanks to Steve Connors’ and others’ assistance, there are now 11 HUD-VASH vouchers available through the Northampton Housing Authority for non-VA eligible veterans.  This will allow housing for some of the most long-term, chronically homeless people in Hampden County and the Three County region.  Very exciting progress.  Veterans will likely be housed over the summer.
It is possible that Northampton Housing Authority (NHA) could have additional vouchers to release to non-VA eligible veterans.  Gerry also relayed her understanding that another 5,000 HUD-VASH vouchers will be released this summer.
Built for Zero campaign:
Gerry updated all on the Built for Zero campaign, a learning community to support the effort to end homelessness for chronically homeless individuals and veterans. They have periodic gatherings through the year and Kate Sweetster-Owens is part of the local team attending the next one in Detroit.  They will focus on ending veteran homelessness which has just become more possible with the availability of non-VA eligible vouchers.
Homelessness Resource Fair – June 14:
Pamela reported on the upcoming Resource Fair next week, Thurs., 6/14 9 am – 12:30 pm at Holyoke Community College, Kittredge Center, Room 301-303. Roughly 200 people are attending with 60 organizations tabling and 8 workshops.  Thanks to the providers in the room for leading the Veterans Services workshop (twice!) during the day.  If you haven’t already, please email Pamela at pschwartz77@gmail.com if you plan to attend.
FY19 State Budget Update:
The FY19 State Budget is now in the Conference Committee.  Pamela reviewed the key provisions impacting individual homelessness as summarized in CHAPA’s attached summary. Representative Steve Kulik from our region is on the Committee and Pamela will be reaching out to summarize Network priorities.
Next meeting date:  because the usual first Wed. is July 4th, and Pamela is away the following week, the Network will convene as part of the monthly case-conferencing meeting on:
 
Wed., August 1
2 pm – 2:30 pm (case conferencing to follow 2:30-3:30 pm)
Friends of the Homeless
755 Worthington Street, Springfield
 
The next regular veterans case conferencing meeting will take place on Wed. July 11.

Veterans Committee Minutes – 4/4/18

Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes – April 4, 2018
 
In attendance: Grechar Aquino, Friends of the Homeless, Beth Barbra, Veterans Inc., Nichole Bodiford, Friends of the Homeless, Nicole Darden, Mass SAVE program, Janice Humason, Friends of the Homeless, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Katherine Person, Veterans Inc., Denise Rivera, Friends of the Homeless, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Dennis Sheehan, Friends of the Homeless, Dennis Sheehan, Friends of the Homeless, Kate Sweetster-Owens, HUD-VASH, Stephanie Tonelli, Friends of the Homeless
Federal Budget Update
Congress passed a budget that allocated an overall 10% increase to the HUD budget, including a 5% increase to homelessness programs.  This is positive news!  We did not have clarity around where the funding was at for VASH although Steve was at least certain that it was not cut.
State Commission on Veteran Homelessness Update
Steve reported that the effort to connect state correctional facilities with veteran services (to identify veterans and provide support services in anticipation of discharge) continues with outreach and a presentation by the SAVE team, the veterans service office rand others at the Gardner penitentiary next week.
Update on VHA ineligible vouchers
Gerry reported on HUD-VASH’s authorization of 25 vouchers to be used in the region for VHA-ineligible veterans.  13 have been used by Soldier On.  The remaining will be allocated between Hampden and Three County with support services by ServiceNet (3 county) and Behavioral Health Network (Hampden County).   The vouchers are administered by Northampton Housing Authority; the executive director is away until next week.  Upon her return, the relevant parties will meet to hopefully work out the support service agreements.  Gerry is also reaching out to DHCD to hopefully obtain 8-10 MRVP vouchers for ineligible veterans.
This combination of HUD VASH and MRVP for VHA ineligible veterans may provide the resources necessary to achieve the goal of “ending veteran homelessness” in Hampden County by the end of the summer per the definition by US ICH.  It will take intensive focus on the individuals who newly enter the system; to obtain VI-SPDATs immediately and facilitate rehousing.
We discussed the HUD definition of “veteran” and confirmed that it is an adult who served active duty – the length of service or type of discharge does not matter if the person entered active duty (training is not sufficient).
Steve Connor also noted that Northampton is getting close to meeting the challenge of ending veteran homelessness.
Announcement: Springfield Partners is sponsoring its Veterans Resource Festival – Stars & Stripes Day ’18 – on Tuesday, May 1, 10:30 am – 2:30 pm, Tower Square Food Court, 1500 Main Street, Springfield.
Next meeting date: Wed., May 2, 2 pm, Friends of the Homeless