Individual Services Committee

Three County CoC Individual Services Minutes – 7/29/19

In attendance: Elizabeth Bienz, ServiceNet, Diana Canales, CHD, Steve Connor, Veterans Services, Erin Forbush,  ServiceNet,  Chris Hughes, ServiceNet, Peg Keller, City of Northampton, Andy Klatka, ServiceNet, Jay Levy, Eliot Services,  Luis Martinez, CHD, Brendan Plante, Eliot Services, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Kate Shapiro, DMH, Susan White, LifePath, Josh Wren, ServiceNet

3 County CoC Update
Pamela reported the following updates (Keleigh, the CoC program director at Community Action, relayed her regrets):

  • Transition from Hilltown CDC as lead agency to Community Action continues with recent acquisition of new data system (Social Solution Enterprise and Green River, similar to Hamdpen County which will allow for easy data sharing)
  • HUD’s NOFA for CoC funding is out and due on 9/30.  An RFP for providers will be released soon and due back by the end of August.
  • The CoC’s annual meeting will take place on Friday, Sept. 20, 10 am- 4 pm, at Greenfield Community College. The morning will be general information and CoC structure building (ALL are welcome!); the afternoon will be for providers and focus on data system training. See the attached flyer for the meeting.
  • Erin Forbush reported on coordinated entry. There are right now 263 individuals on ServiceNet’s list.  If other providers are working with individuals, please pass on data to Erin so she can integrate into list.  Right now they are working off an excel document until the new data system is up and running.  We discussed the process that awaits around the vulnerability assessment tool (whether to shift to the VI-SPDAT, the more universal tool utilized by CoC’s).  

Update on Permanent Supportive Housing units (via CHD contract): Luis of CHD reported that there will be 19 beds available very soon in Millers Falls.  Erin will be hosting a Coordinated Entry meeting around these beds on Tuesday, August 13 at 1 pm in Greenfield (the usual time/day for Greenfield’s CE meeting; this one will be devoted to allocating these units in particular).  Providers should stay tuned for additional notice from Erin.

Section 811 Mainstream Housing Vouchers: We noted that HUD released the NOFA for Section 811 vouchers (available for non-elderly disabled individuals, targeting chronically homeless population).  Jay spoke with Amherst Housing Authority and they intend to apply.  Pamela noted that Keleigh met with them too (as well as FRHRA and Greenfield HA) and Pamela will connect Jay and Keleigh on this to maximize coordination.   We discussed the need for coordinated support services to accompany these vouchers and Erin said ServiceNet will be in conversation with Keleigh about this.

Franklin County meeting with Senator Comerford: Pamela reported on Senator Comerford’s initiation of a meeting with Franklin County providers (Community Action, ServiceNet, Town of Greenfield, etc.) and DHCD (Jane Banks) to discuss strategy and interventions to ensure emergency shelter needs are met in Franklin County this winter. It was a very productive meeting, resulting in ServiceNet submitting a request to DHCD for winter overflow funds (to complete the 2nd floor of Wells Street Shelter) for FY20 (which was supported in a letter from Senator Comerford) and a game plan for pursuing an earmark in FY21.  DHCD has reported the good news of securing some additional funding for FY20 (exact amount to be confirmed).  Big thanks to Senator Comerford for her leadership on this!

FY20 State Budget update:  Pamela reported that the Legislature adopted the Conference Committee’s proposed budget last week with very good news in it for housing/homelessness programs.  Individual shelters received the top amount recommended by the House ($53m); RAFT received additional funding of $21m; MRVP received an increase in funding to $110m along with a policy change that allows rent levels to increase to more closely match fair market rent levels.  For more detail, see the Network’s blog post here

Kate requested better understanding of how housing authorities can request “exception rates” for their rent levels and we agreed we needed to clarify how the “exception rate” differs from the “small market rents” that in theory accomplish the same thing.  We will put this on the agenda for the next meeting. 

Network training brainstorm for FY20:
We reviewed the current suggestions for Network trainings for FY20 and the group brainstormed the following additions:

  • Housing authority outreach and advocacy (how to engage and develop stronger relationships)
  • working with elders experiencing homelessness, including addressing medical needs, substance use disorders (volunteers for developing this training include: Kate – she will convene everyone – Jay, Erin, Jane, Peg, Susan White, Hayley; Pamela will send a connecting email to all)
  • Utilities discount (how to access) – referred to Dan Brown of CLA; also utility companies offer this training (Erin can refer)
  • add DMH to DDS/Mass Rehab training
  • consider SOAR trainings as part of SSI/SSDI

How/where to locate trainings in the 3 county area:  We discussed the 3 County need to locate trainings in the 3 county area (as opposed to the Network’s usual location of HCC).  There was consensus that we needed to offer double training since to place a training in the 3 county area effectively means that very few Hampden County providers will attend (just the nature of habit and orientation around travel).  We will establish a sub-group to make decisions about which trainings deserve priority and where within the 3 county area they should be located.  The group will include:  Erin Forbush, Steve Connor, Jay Levy, Jane Ralph and presumably Keleigh Pereira and Brad Gordon or Kim Borden (BCRHA).  Pamela will write an initial email inviting all to participate.  We still need to determine a point person for the group. Other announcements:

  • Kate: there are 2 shelter plus care openings.  We will put this item on the agenda for our next meeting to get an update on how things are going in general.  Will invite Dan Bussler.
  • There are 2 openings at Winslow (Life Path housing for elderly)

Very sad news:  Steve Karpovich, former director of ServiceNet’s Well Spring Shelter, passed away (injuries from a car accident).  We send our thoughts to Steve’s family and to the entire community that will greatly mourn his loss.
Next meeting dates:
Monday, September 23, 1-2:30 pm
, DMH Haskell Building, 2nd floor large conference room
Tuesday, 10/15, 1-2:30, Greenfield location to be determined
Tuesday, 11/12, 1-2:30, likely Greenfield location to be determined

Hampden County Individual Services Meeting Minutes – 7/16/19

In attendance: Pedro Alvarez, Tapestry, Grechar Aquino, FOH/CSO, Jessica Dorman, Mercy/Trinity Health,  Fina Fulla-Kay, City of Springfield, Sarah Hills, Eliot CHS, Janice Humason, FOH/CSO, Mark Jachym, FOH/CSO, Nichole King, FOH/CSO, Todd Koniezhny, Next Step Springfield, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS, John Maillet, DMH, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield/CoC, Lizzy Ortiz, Mercy Medical Center, Denise Rivera-Nunez, FOH/CSO, Christina Ruest, FOH/CSO, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Stephanie Tonelli, FOH/CSO, Lynn White, Viability, Inc, Chris Zabik, DMH

Built for Zero Update:Gerry reported that there are currently about 70 people on the by-name list. This is down from a high of 100 in Dec. 2018, and this work began in 2015.  The goal is to have a full list of all chronically homeless individuals in Hampden County and house them all.  Roughly 7-10 chronically homeless people have been housed per month.  The challenge is constant in-flow into chronic homelessness. Most of the people now on the list have been homeless 1-2 years.  Previously the list included many people with very long histories of homelessness, many of whom have been housed. It was noted in discussion that it is especially difficult to keep people who are episodically homeless on the radar.

With national BFZ support, Hampden County is working on 2 projects to address inflow: Foster Care/Homelessness Project and Health Care System Project with Mercy Hospital and Institute for Health Improvement.  

CoC NOFA (Notice of Funding Availability) – The NOFA was released on July 3, due 9/30. There will be a local competition for new and renewal projects; the RFP will go out on 7/31 and responses will be due back by 8/30. We will have the ability o increase funding through Bonus Funds ($200,967) and DV bonus funds ($397,989). An RFP will go out on 7/31, due back at end of August.  Renewal of any existing projects; availability of bonus project and DV bonus project funds. 

HMIS Capacity Building Grant: CoC was awarded $150,000 over 2 year period (beginning Sept. 2019).  The CoC worked with a HUD TA person who looked at the CoC issues and made recommendations about what would help improve our data.  The CoC is still finalizing with HUD but the capacity building grant will likely include:

  • some technical work with HMIS software to improve workflow
  • HMIS – review of capacity and support and plans to increase the City’s HMIS support for end users
  • HMIS training – various trainings onsite in Springfield, including more for city staff, for HMIS leads at each CoC/ESG provider; end user training and creation of materials for end users
  • Trauma-Informed Care (TIC) – capacity building, including support for TIC self assessment by each CoC agency and on-site assessment of 4 large shelter providers (Way Finders, NEFWC, CHD, CSO/FOH) with recommendations 

Legislative updates: Pamela reported on recent legislative activity regarding that involved Network advocacy. Today at the State House there were two Committee hearings on Network priority bills:

  • Right to counsel for tenants in eviction proceedings (in 2018, 92% of tenants went to housing court without a lawyer, while over 70% of landlords were represented; this imbalance has a direct impact on homelessness); and
  • Eviction sealing (HOMES Act) which would automatically seal an eviction record upon filing and only be released (for a maximum of 3 years) if there is a finding against the tenant.  Right now, the filing of an eviction becomes an instant public record regardless of whether the tenant did anything wrong or counter-claimed against the landlord or had their case dismissed or entered into an agreement.  This poses a significant barrier for tenants looking for housing. 
  • Reducing cliff effects : These bills would address the “cliff effect” – the sudden drop in income and other public assistance when there is an increase in earnings that puts the individual further behind in resources.  State data reporting would require cross-agency reporting to better understand who is impacted by the cliff effect and the pilot program would provide a test vehicle (with 50 families, located in Western MA) for reducing the impact. 
  • Act of Living bill which would create basic civil and human rights protections for people experiencing homelessness.

The Network submitting testimony on all these bills.  Our Western MA delegation is very supportive and frequently in the lead.  Please join the Network blog at https://westernmasshousingfirst.org to stay most connected to the Network advocacy and participate in it.

Network Training Calendar for FY20
We reviewed the Network training list from FY19 and recommendations from the family services committee on what to offer in FY20.  That list includes:

  • EA/HomeBASE system overview (fall)
  • Overcoming tenant screening barriers (fall)
  • legal services training (winter)
  • child care voucher system overview (spring)
  • SSI/SSDI systems overview (fall)
  • Advocacy: how a bill gets passed; how to advocate (winter)
  • Mental health/substance us systems overview (sub-group working on this)
  • DV best practices training around safety planning for DV survivors and use of Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) to get DV survivors rehoused (Sept.) 
  • Employment trainings (per HUD NOFA requirements, done by 9/30) – will discuss further at 7/22 career services meeting 
  • Racial equity continued (in discussion with Marc Dones) 

We gained greater clarity around the DV training – it is open to all providers, individual and family.  Gerry noted that the CoC is funding a bonus project with the YWCA and Womanshelter to add staff to provide specific housing support for survivors; the goal for other shelter providers is to know who to access for expert support when coming into contact with a DV survivor.

Additional training ideas from discussion:human trafficking (Gerry has a lead for a trainer) accessing DDS and Mass Rehab (traumatic brain injury) resources 

Next meeting date:  Tues., Sept. 3, 2-2:30 pm, following case-conferencing meeting (schedule variation is due to schedule conflicts on usual 3rd Tuesday).

Hampden County Individual Services Minutes – 5/21/19

In attendance: Grechar Aquino, Friends of the Homeless/CSO, Lynn Conway, SMOC, Jess Dorman, Mercy Medical Center, Fina Fulla-Kay, City of Springfield, Janice Humason, FOH/CSO, Mark Jachym, FOH/CSO, Nichole King, FOH/CSO, Jen Lucca, Samaratin Inn, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Bill Miller, FOH/CSO, Gerson Nivak, Viability, Lizzy Ortiz, Mercy Medical Center, Emmanuel Owusu, Dept of Veteran Services, John Paglier, Mercy Medical Center, Denise Rivera-Nunez, FOH/CSO, Laura Robertson, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Dennis Sheehan, FOH/CSO, Stephanie Tonelli, FOH/CSO, Catherine Torres, FOH/CSO, Kathy West, Eliot Services, Chris Zabik, DMH

Built for Zero Advisor Eddie Turner: We had the pleasure of hosting Eddie Turner, an advisor from the Built for Zero Campaign, based in Atlanta, whose job it is to support communities around the country that are close to ending veteran and individual chronic homelessness, and to help them reach that end-goal. Hampden County is making great strides in ending Veteran homelessness (roughly 16 Veterans on its by-name list), so Eddie began the day meeting with the Veterans’ providers and then joined us at our Individual Services meeting to offer his expertise on chronic homelessness as well. 


I highly recommend looking at the slide presentation here (note: the Veteran committee slides are also in this link, appearing first, and either check them out, too – interesting! – or keep going until you hit the start of the presentation on chronic homelessness). The presentation as a whole offers a great summary of the approach that is applicable across our region, as well as an interesting look at Hampden County’s current data. 


The group discussed the barriers chronically homeless individuals face to getting housed and what can be done to get past these barriers.  The current by-name list has 63 chronically homeless individuals on it.  The group committed to moving 13 people into housing over the next 5 weeks, by July 1, bringing the by-name list number down to 50.

The case-conferencing committee will continue to meet weekly and we will all take stock together at our next Hampden County Committee meeting on Tuesday, July 16, 1 pm, Friends of the Homeless (we are not meeting in June due to the Resource Fair on June 10).

3 County Individual Services Meeting Minutes – 5/13/19

n attendance: Elizabeth Bienz, ServiceNet, Kerry Brock, Steve Connor, Veterans Services, Sara Cummings, Community Action, 3 County CoC; Erin Forbush, ServiceNet, Chris Hughes, ServiceNet, Peg Keller, City of Northampton, Jay Levy, Eliot Services, Patty McDonnell, Joe Mygan, Starlight, SMOC, Theresa Nicholson, CHD, Aidan Novo, Craig’s Doors, Keleigh Pereira, Community Action/3 County CoC, Brendan Plante, Eliot Services, Thomas Poplawski, DMH, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Hayley Wood, Easthampton Council on Aging, Josh Wren, ServiceNet

Three County CoC update:Community Action hired the new CoC program coordinator: Keleigh Pereira (pronounced “Kelly”).  She just started a week ago and we look forward to helping her make the transition to this new job as smooth as possible. Welcome Keleigh!
Community Action is also interviewing for the HMIS data position now.

Coordinated Entry (CE) continues to be “paused” as work continues to obtain the necessary data system  (as opposed to CE being manually managed through excel which has been the case thus far). It’s an expensive system to acquire so they Community Action needs to put out bids (looking closely at ETO Enterprise as that is the system the Hampden CoC uses) , and it could take as long as 3 months to get it up and running.
It is understood that in view of the transition to CHD’s management of the PSH units – and the openings to fill them – that stop-gap management of CE will be utilized (continuing with excel presumably). 

Permanent Supportive Housing update: Theresa Nicholson of Center for Human Development (CHD) provided an update on their takeover of ServiceNet’s PSH contract.  The official start date is 7/1 but they are in conversation with HUD around using some of the unspent funds for a “start-up budget” prior to 7/1.  HUD is treating this transition as a straightforward shift in contract management from ServiceNet to CHD. 
CHD is working on hiring staff and identifying units. There are 48 units in total:15 in Berkshire County – 13 are currently filled; 2 vacant; 24 new in Franklin County; 9 in Hampshire, 6 are filled, 3 are vacant 

The geographical allocation of units can shift depending on where the people who need them reside.  These determinations will be made within the coordinated entry system.

Shelter Plus Care Update:ccJay reported out on the meetings with DMH, ServiceNet ACCS (shelter plus care staff sub-contracted through DMH) and ServiceNet shelter director (Erin) and CHD and the Network to discuss how to increase access to the shelter plus care vouchers through accommodations around DMH eligibility requirements and to increase chances of success through greater collaboration via Coordinated Entry. Staff of respective programs are meeting on 6/7 to discuss further.

Right now there are 22 shelter plus care vouchers across Franklin and Hampshire Counties and 21 are being utilized. Work continues to find the right match for the last unused voucher.

Safe Havens: This is another HUD funded program that now works only with DMH support dollars but is a “low-demand, high expectation” model that takes the individual wherever they are at and offers support services 24/7. Peg noted that Northampton needs Safe Haven housing.  Peg and DMH staff are meeting bi-weekly to discuss how to address the housing/support needs of this population. 

Presentation on Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC), CSO, Inc.  Special thanks to Lisa Pineo of CSO for sharing this information with us.  This is a 3 year SAMHSA funded initiative that provides mental and physical health care as well as an extremely broad range of services to all people of all ages regardless of ability to pay. Walk-in access Monday-Thursday, 10 am – 4 pm and Friday 10 am – 2 pm at locations across Western MA.  Click here to get a summary of services and find out how to access them.

State Budget Update:The Senate will be debating its budget next week.  This week is the time to ask our senators to co-sponsor amendments.  Click here for the Network blog post that details how to contact your senator and what to ask for. 

Next meeting date:Because our next regularly scheduled meeting would take place on June 10, the same day as the Housing/Homelessness Resource Fair, the group agreed to not meet in the month of June and instead meet at its next regularly scheduled time of Monday, July 8, 1 pm, at ServiceNet, 296 Nonotuck Street, Northampton. 

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 

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

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

3 County Individual Services Meeting Minutes – 1/11/19


In attendance: Erin Forbush, ServiceNet, Chris Hughes, ServiceNet, Andy Klatka, Eliot Services, Jay Levy, Eliot Services, Patti McDonnell, SMOC, Katie Miernecki, ServiceNet, Brenda Plante, Eliot Services, Nikki Riello, Hilltown CDC, Jack Tulloss, ServiceNet, Hayley Wood, Easthampton Council on Aging, Josh Wren, ServiceNet 

Point in Time Count:Taking place on Jan. 30.  Working out outreach and plans which will be provided in more detail at the next Coordinated Entry meeting on next Monday on 1/28.

Amherst forum with landlords took place last week. Jay reported multiple service providers were present and discussion of unaffordable rents was a central topic.

Nikki Riello of Hilltown CDC is moving to a new position at Berkshire Bank Foundation.  Thank you, Nikki!

Discussion and debrief of “how to run an awesome shelter training”  that took place on 12/18/18. This training was offered by Iain DeJong of OrgCode as part of the Network’s training series this year.  Pamela prepared a summary hand-out of the major points that the group reviewed.  Those who had attended the training reported out that it was useful and discussion was underway about ways to implement lessons learned.  At the next meeting on Feb. 11, we will go into further depth around the training take-aways and if/how we can implement here.

Next meeting date: Monday, Feb. 11, 1 pm, 196 Nonotuck Street, Florence.Note: Upcoming training on Progressive Engagement and Diversion on Thurs., Jan. 31 at HCC has some slots left.  Click here to learn more.