Individual Services Committee

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.

Three County Individual Services Committee Meeting Minutes – 12/9/19

Three County Individual Services Meeting Minutes – 12/9/19
In attendance: Carlyn Arnell, Eliot Services, Diana Canales, CHD, Steve Connor, Veteran Services, Sam Cunningham, ServiceNet, Erin Forbush, ServiceNet, Andy Klatka, Eliot Services, Michele LaFleur, CAPV/CoC, Jay Levy, Eliot Services, Katie Miernecki, ServiceNet, Brooke Murphy, CAPV/CoC, Kevin Noonan, Craig’s Doors, Keleigh Pereira, CAPV/CoC, Brendan Plante, Eliot Services, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Kate Shapiro, DMH, Susan White, LifePath, Chris Zabik, DMH

Decisions around regular report-outs each month: We discussed and agreed on the following standing report-outs for our monthly meetings:

  • Coordinated entry
  • Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) unit availability
  • Shelter plus care voucher availability
  • Shelter updates 

Coordinated Entry:

  • 27 new people entered the by-name list in November (not all chronically homeless)
  • 0 housing placements in November
  • Placements will be happening in December as new PSH units become available 
  • Not yet accounting for how many people removed from the list for no contact until the list itself is sufficiently reviewed
  • 313 people in total on list right now

Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) update:

  • CHD reported that the first 4 units in Millers Falls should be available imminently. Aiming for 12/20 for another 8 units and for 1/2 for another 7, although based on construction progress this is likely to be pushed back.
  • Also a unit is available in Barton’s Cove in Pittsfield.

Shelter Plus Care update:Either one or two vouchers are currently available (it is only one if Franklin County takes the other – currently unclear). Good news: 2 people graduated from shelter plus care into permanent housing. Note reminder that to be eligible for shelter plus care, the individual must be on the by-names list AND be receiving DMH services. 

Emergency shelter update: We reviewed the monthly reporting template and provided feedback, particularly around capturing consequences of extreme cold.  Michele and Pamela will follow-up with revised template. 

  • Northampton Cot Shelter: 49 unique individuals in November, at capacity
  • Craig’s Doors: 50 unique individuals in November 
  • Pittsfield seasonal shelter: 36 unique individuals in November, a few nights at capacity but more frequently in 12-15 range (more than typical Novembers). Year round shelter is at capacity with a wait list of 30.
  • Greenfield Warming Center: notably low census, from 0-5 people.  Discussed using it as overflow for when Northampton and Amherst are full – need to address transportation challenge.  Contact Wells St shelter in Greenfield to confirm openings.  Warming center located at 72 Chapman Street, Greenfield. 

We also discussed reaching out to Afiya and crisis/respite services to include them in our monthly meetings (they are frequently used as a critical resource for shelter guests in crisis).  Kate will reach out to invite them.

Request for input on individual shelter system from DHCD:As part of DHCD’s preparation for the potential additional funding in the individual shelter system (and determining whether to re-procure the system), DHCD is seeking written input following its listening sessions.  Comments are due on January 8.  Pamela sent out DHCD questions on a separate email but please contact her if you want her to resend or contact directly Adam Schaffer, the DHCD liaison on this effort, at adam.schaffer@state.ma.us.

Section 811 Mainstream vouchers update: Amherst, Greenfield, Northampton and Franklin Region all received mainstream vouchers to house non-elderly people with disabilities.  They have all agreed to use Coordinated Entry as the process for allocating the vouchers.  This requires some wait list rule changes for the housing authorities which is more complicated than anticipated.  Housing authorities are anticipating getting the vouchers out by April or May.  Meanwhile, provider meetings are being scheduled to plan for the support services that will be provided.  Brooke is working on compiling a list of available support services by each agency to help housing authorities find quick and reliable support.  We also discussed the funding gap for first, last and security deposit.  We will continue to brainstorm around that. 

Legislative Update
Sam provided an update on the work of the Pioneer Valley Workers Center’s campaign to pass a state law that would allow drivers licenses for all.  This would address the critical need for a license facing many clients who are immigrants. Sam requested organizations to consider signing on in support of this campaign. Please go here for more information on the campaign and to sign on.

Announcements:

  • Susan White of Life Path announced that there can frequently be units available at Winslow Wentworth House in Turners Falls.  Please be sure to contact her if working with an elderly (over 60) or disabled person.  swhite@lifepathma.org
  • 413Cares is a new online resource database.  Make sure your organization is on there and you “claim” it so it’s properly listed.  See attachment for more information.
  • Census funding available!  MA is offering up to $250,000 in grants to support census work.  Applications due 12/20.  Go here for more info: http://www.sec.state.ma.us/census2020/grant-program.html 
  • Elder homelessness community conversation: Friday, Jan. 17, 1-4 pm, Northampton Senior Center

Next meeting date: Monday, January 13, 1 pm – 2:30 pm, ServiceNet, 21 Olander Drive, Northampton.

3 County Individual Services Minutes – 11/18/19

In attendance: Sam Cunningham, ServiceNet, Allison Duddlestonm, Craig’s  Doors,  John Fisher, Way Finders, Michele LaFleur, 3 County CoC, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS Homeless Services, Katie Miernecki, ServiceNet, Brooke Murphy, 3 County CoC, Theresa Nicholson, CHD, Kevin Noonan, Craig’s Doors, Keleigh Pereira, 3 County CoC, Brendan Plante, Eliot Services, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Kate Shapiro, DMH, Hayley Wood, Hadley Council on Aging, Josh Wren, ServiceNet

Legislative Update:Pamela reported on Right to Counsel for Evictions (for low-income tenants and low-income landlords) and Eviction Sealing (HOMES).  Both bills are had a public hearing in front of the Judiciary Committee over the summer.  Now the campaigns are asking local organizations to sign on in support.  Pamela will follow-up with a targeted email with more detailed information.

Training: The Network is sponsoring a training on state budget and policy-making: how it all works.  January 28, 2020, 9:30 am – 12 noon, Kittredge Center, HCC. Please Register here.

Coordinated Entry Update:

  • Weekly meetings continuing:  Northampton – Monday; Greenfield – Tuesday; Pittsfield – Wednesday
  • building data systems to track outcomes 
  • Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) update via CHD: Millers Falls properties are still undergoing renovation (e.g., historic windows required) – hopefully 6 units will be available in the next few weeks (ultimately will be 19 there). Greenfield building 

Update on PSH housing: properties in Millers Falls are historic – windows have to be a certain size, ordered from a particular place.  Still slotted for a few weeks – 6 units; then in a few weeks, another 6 units.  Will be 19 total in Millers Falls.  One building has 4 units; other building has 11 units.  The other building in Greenfield is up and running.

Mainstream Section 811 vouchers update Great news!  All housing authorities’ applications for mainstream section 811 were successful.  The breakdown includes: Amherst (10 vouchers), Northampton (15 vouchers), Greenfield (10 vouchers), Franklin County Regional (10 vouchers). 
The CoC convened a meeting last week with providers to further develop plans for supportive services accompanying these vouchers. The Coordinated Entry by-name lists will be instrumental in the voucher allocation. MJ Adams in Greenfield is working on lining up project-based subsidies (a meeting Monday night) – hopefully a model that can be used in other communities since units are in such short supply. 
The question was raised regarding available resources for payment for first, last, security deposit – RAFT? Catholic Charities?  More to learn on this. CONGRATULATIONS to all for this meaningful addition of housing resources in the region.

Built for Zero Learning Session: Pamela reported on her attendance with Hampden County CoC at her second Built for Zero Learning Session, a national initiative sponsored by the national non-profit Community Solutions that includes 75 communities from across the country working together to end veteran and chronic homelessness and then all forms of homelessness.  It’s an inspiring and informative gathering and Pamela will relay the substantive information to the Three County CoC staff.  She is excited for the Three County CoC to join the national community and will provide connecting information ASAP.

Point in Time Count Planning: Wed., Jan. 29 is the count date.Will send out outreach letter in early January; will send out the count survey within a week of the PIT date.  Eliot Services will provide outreach for street population.  Point in Time Committee welcomes input – contact Michele LaFleur, data manager, at mlafleur@communityaction.us to join. 

Shelter updates: Northampton cot shelter: full, the annex in Easthampton opens tonight; 2 turned away so far
Policy practices: implementing lessons learned from last year’s Network training “how to run an awesome shelter” – shifting from “rules” to “expectations” – overall the shift is going very well (with some guests’ discomfort at the change). Also becoming more trauma-informed with a focus on re-housing. Sam will connect with Craig’s Doors to share experience.
Craig’s Doors: opened 11/1.  Congratulations! They have been at capacity several times already.  Still working on getting into ETO.  Have experienced a few guests in crisis situations, interested in a de-escalation team and learning how to respond to a person who needs to be sectioned. 

Warming Center in Greenfield – it’s open and being utilized (4 people the first night, more as it got colder).
We discussed creating a data template for reporting out on coordinated entry and shelter use each month.  Pamela will follow-up with a targeted inquiry about this in preparation for next month’s meeting.

3 County CoC committee updates:Brooke reported on the CoC committee development.  There are 6 CoC committees, all meet at Community Action in Greenfield, 393 Main Street, Greenfield (calling in is an option).  The committees include:

  • youth action board – youth only; one youth member participating on CoC board
  • performance and outcomes committee – quarterly meeting, next meeting Friday, 2/14, 9-10:30 am
  • equity and inclusion committee – monthly meeting – 3rd Friday, 9-10:30
  • coordinated entry committee -quarterly meeting, first meeting tomorrow, 3-4:30 pm (Tuesday afternoons)
  • data evaluation committee – monthly, first Friday, 9-10:30 am – required reporting processes
  • ranking and evaluation committee – quarterly, starting 1/24, heavy evaluation committee  – evaluates tool and evaluates projects

All CoC committees welcome consumer participation.

Announcements:

  • Community conversation on Ending Elder Homelessness: January 17, 1-4 pm, Northampton Senior Center – thanks to Earl Miller and others for making this happen
  • Fair Housing training and advice is available through John Fisher at Way Finders, contact jfisher@wayfindersma.org

Next meeting date: Monday, 12/9, 1-2:30 pm, ServiceNet, 21 Olander Street, Northampton 

Hampden County Individual Services Meeting – 10/8/19

In attendance: Grechar Aquino, FOH-CSO, Jessica Dorman, Mercy Medical, Fina Full-Kay, City of Springfield, John Fisher, Way Finders, Dave Havens, Mental Health Association, Sarah Hills, Eliot CHS, Janice Humason, FOH-CSO, Mark Jachym, FOH/CSO, Nichole King – FOH-CSO, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield/Hampden CoC, Lizzy Ortiz, Mercy Medical, Christina Ruest, FOH/CSO, Denise Rivera-Nunez, FOH/CSO, Keith Rhone, FOH/CSO, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Rosemary Surdyka, Mercy Medical, Stephanie Tonelli, FOH/CSO, Catherine Torres, FOH/CSO, Kathy West, Eliot CHS, Delphine Wray, FOH/CSO, Chris Zabik, DMH

Built for Zero Update: Their quarterly conference is coming up (this time in Denver) October 21 – 23 – Hampden County team will be attending. The conference will focus on case-conferencing and coordinated entry – looking forward to reporting back. Currently Hampden County’s by-name list of chronically homeless individuals has approximately 80 people on it and last year the CoC re-housed 110 people. Hampden County is doing a great job on “outflow” (rehousing people, essentially turning over the list each year); the dominant challenge is the “in-flow” – the number of people entering homelessness. The CoC also has a BFZ “coach” named Eddie Turner who will come out here this Spring to discuss and brainstorm the “in-flow” challenge.

The CoC is working closely with the major housing authorities – Springfield, Chicopee and Holyoke. Springfield and Chicopee both applied for more Section 811 “mainstream housing vouchers” (for non-elderly disabled individuals). If both applications are fully funded, there would be 70 new mainstream vouchers coming into the region (note: Holyoke Housing Authority does not do Mainstream vouchers because they are a “Moving to Work” HA with more flexibility around how to use their vouchers and they have put 15 vouchers aside for homelessness priority and will do so again as of Jan. 1). These housing authority partnerships are critical. Continuing outreach afoot with West Springfield and Westfield Housing Authorities.

Additional work happening on outreach to local hospital leadership to expand strategies on making the health care system even more active partners in homelessness prevention and re-housing work. Follow-up will likely focus on Springfield.

HMIS Capacity Building grant. The CoC received $150,000 over 2 years to support HMIS capacity building. It will be used to train point people and staff and will also be used to support the intersection of Trauma Informed Care (TIC) and quality data, i.e., how to improve data on exit destinations with a TIC model of inquiry and relationship building as well as view of physical space and lay-out. It will be interesting to see the findings.

MassHire meeting at FOH: MassHire Springfield and Holyoke met with FOH staff on Sept. 25 to discuss ways to build the relationship with FOH guests and better meet their employment needs. There was a good conversation on the barriers experienced by shelter guests and discussion of possible solutions, e.g., bringing resume work shops or general orientations to the shelter directly. Conversations will continue.

HUD Youth Homelessness Demonstration Project (YHDP):
Hampden County CoC and Three County CoC (for Franklin County) were each selected by HUD for a 2 year Youth Homelessness Demonstration Project (YHDP) – 23 grants nationwide and Western MA got two of them! – totaling $4.3 million ($2.4 for Hampden, $1.9 for Franklin). This is an extraordinary opportunity! The first stage is the planning process; the CoC’s must submit a proposed plan to HUD by 12/29/19. It will be followed by another four months of planning with HUD for a final plan approval by April, 2020. Funding for programs is slated to start by summer. The project will serve youth ages 13-24 years. The overall goal is to prevent and end youth homelessness through a coordinated prevention and response system. HUD expects youth to inform and lead the process every step of the way. Our CoCs each have a Youth Advisory Board (YAB) comprised of young people that will provide the foundation for youth involvement in this project.

Specific information gathering workshops will be held as follows:
Housing: Nov. 8, 9:30 am – 12:30 pm, UMass Springfield, Tower Square, 1500 Main Street, Springfield
Permanent Connections/mentoring: Nov. 22, 9:30 am – 12:30 pm, The Innovation Center, 276 Bridge Street, Springfield
Education/Employment: Dec. 13, 9:30 am – 12:30 pm, The Innovation Center, 276 Bridge Street, Springfield
Contact: Gerry McCafferty, gmccafterty@springfieldcityhall

Next meeting date: Tuesday, November 12, 1 pm – 2 pm, FOH, 755 Worthington Street, Springfield

3 County Individual Services Meeting Minutes – 9/23/19

In attendance: Elizabeth Bienz, ServiceNet, Erin Forbush, ServiceNet, Michele LaFleur, Three County CoC, Jay Levy, Eliot Services, Luis Martinez, CHD, Katie Miernecki, Earl Miller, DMH, ServiceNet, Brooke Murphy, 3 County CoC, Lizzy Ortiz, Mercy Medical Center, Keleigh Pereira, Community Action/CoC, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Kate Shapiro, Network, Hayley Wood, Easthampton Council on Aging, Chris Zabik, DMH

Three County CoC Update:
The CoC convened its annual meeting on 9/20, confirming its Board and committee structure. CoC staff is now in place, including Brooke Murphy who will work on coordinated entry and other support, and Michele LaFleur, who will provide data support and analysis. HUD’s NOFA (the application for all homelessness program funding) will be finalized and submitted in the next few days – congratulations to Keleigh and the entire CoC!

The CoC was awarded $1.9 million in HUD funding for its Youth Homelessness Demonstration Project (YHDP) for Franklin County. This is a monumental achievement towards the effort of preventing and ending youth homelessness in Franklin County (and eventually the other 2 counties; Franklin County was the focus this time because they applied under the “rural” category and Franklin is the most rural and offered the greatest shot at winning the funding). Congratulations to all! The funding process begins with plan development over the next 4 months, working with the leadership of young people through the Youth Action Board. That plan is due at the end of December and then feedback with HUD is slated for the next 4 months with funding for programs aiming to start by next April.

Housing Authorities apply for Mainstream Vouchers: HUD made available a new round of “mainstream vouchers” (Section 811) for non-elderly disabled individuals (a critical resource for chronically homeless individuals). With CoC and municipal support, housing authorities in Northampton, Greenfield, Amherst, and Franklin Regional all applied. If funded, this will mean 45 new vouchers for the region, which will be a huge advance for the region’s affordable housing supply.

Coordinated Entry: meetings are ongoing; right now the assessment tool is available on the CoC page on Community Action’s website although a CoC only website is in formation (due to HUD requirements).

CHD update on Permanent Supportive Housing units: Units are coming on line and being filled in Greenfield, Millers Falls and Pittsfield.

Dial/SELF also has openings for it transitional and permanent housing program – 10 CoC-funded beds in total. Available to 18-24 year olds.

Shelter plus care vouchers are tentatively taken but due to tenuous situations, always open to referrals.

Elder homelessness training discussion: A sub-committee met to plan this training. Agreed on 3 parts, including prevention, re-housing and a possible pilot program to address specific needs facing elders experiencing homelessness. Earl Miller, Director of Recovery for DMH, suggested using DMH’s structure of community events to host this discussion (regular convenings across the region of 60-100 people). The group enthusiastically agreed this was a great idea. Earl will follow-up with the sub-committee.

Craig’s Doors: Jay Levy is on the Board (thank you, Jay!) and reported that interviews are underway to hire new staff. It is unclear when exactly the shelter will reopen but presumably sometime in November. This is great news.

Franklin County Regional Network is hosting a legislative breakfast for the entire community on October 18. Pamela will forward the invitation.

Next meeting dates:

Monday, November 18
1 pm – 2 pm
DMH Haskell Building, 2nd floor large conference room

Monday, December 9
1 pm – 2 pm
ServiceNet
21 Olander Drive, Board Room, Northampton

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://esternmasshousingfirstorg.stage.site 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).