Hampden County Individual Services Committee Meeting Minutes – 12/10/19

In attendance: Grechar Aquino, FOH/CSO, Jessica Dorman, Mercy Medical Center, David Havens, MHA, Janice Humason, FOH/CSO, Mark Jachym, FOH/CSO, Nichole King, FOH/CSO, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Denise Rivera-Nunez, FOH/CSO, Victor Rodriguez, SMOC/Open Pantry, Christina Ruest, FOH/CSO, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Aisa Wise, HEU Mercy Medical Center

By-name list update – The by-names meetings are moving from weekly to every other week and will be longer meetings. Currently about 90 people are on the by-name list (fyi: over 100 people have been housed in the last year; the number is a function of new people entering homelessness). With outreach to Springfield Police and work with Holyoke and Chicopee Housing Authorities, it’s likely more people experiencing long-term homelessness will be identified.   

Discussion re housing pathways for young adults with serious mental illness: Frequently, young adults with serious mental health diagnoses move from place to place and ultimately may land in PSH.  Many are having their first experience of mental illness; many have to wait a long time to be deemed chronically homeless.    How do we best meet the needs of this population? 
Brainstorm included:

  • a Safe Havens type model that builds in supportive services and community connection and flexibility in dealing with behavioral issues that arise without precipitously terminating housing
  • a transitional place for young people being discharged from institutional settings, e.g., hospitals, a “Living Room” type model that is “hostel-like” en route to more permanent housing like a Safe Havens model
  • a “Living Room” model but with beds
  • must address security and staffing challenges
  • must get DMH around the table to create better systems in responding to the youth population (no history of diagnosis to work with)
  • critically important to have a place to go during the day, a peer and community environment

The group agreed that it would be very valuable to have a cross-agency conversation – DCF, DMH, DYS – at a high level. Gerry will follow-up with Linn Torto.

Career Services Employment Assessment Tool
Green River data systems is building out a feature that will allow for inclusion of job readiness assessments.  They have suggested doing a quick trial run of an assessment tool in the next couple of weeks so they can collect feedback and make quick adjustments.  Gerry will follow-up with FOH to try this in January. 

MassHires coming to FOH: The group agreed it would be useful to request a trial run of having the MassHires come to FOH to conduct a resume training workshop; to experiment with the outreach.  All agreed that it would be more useful to have a continual, regular presence, but we would start with a first time visit.  Pamela and Gerry will discuss follow-up. 

413 cares:  413 cares is a new online resource directory database.  413 cares is sponsored by Baystate Health and is getting ready to launch at the start of 2020. Most important is for organizations to get onto the site and “claim” their site so they can have the best information available.  This will provide info for all 4 counties.

Census Outreach: Pamela shared the opportunity to apply for a grant for Census 2020 outreach work to focus on at-risk populations.  For more information, go here: http://www.sec.state.ma.us/census2020/grant-program.html

Training Update: The Network is sponsoring a budget and legislative advocacy training on January 28, 9:30 am – 12:00 noon, Kittredge Center, HCC.  This is a great opportunity to get connected on this critical component of the work to prevent and end homelessness.  Register here.

Next meeting date: Tuesday, January 28, 1-2:15 pm, Friends of the Homeless.