Veterans

Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes – 12/5/19

Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes – 12/5/19
In attendance: Daniel Bahls, Community Legal Aid, Craig Deraway, Soldier On,  Mike Hagmaier, Soldier On, Michele LaFleur, Community Action, Jesus Pereira, Holyoke Veterans, Allie Pierce-Wilson, VA HUD-VASH, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Kate Sweetster-Owens, VA-GPD, Christy Torres, VOC, Sue White, VA HUD-VASH 


New veterans legal assistance resource:  Daniel Bahls of CLA announced CLA’s new 3 year grant from United Way Hampshire County that will serve low-income veterans in Hampshire County facing legal issues rising from medical issues (very broadly defined, i.e., if a Hampshire County low-income veteran is in need of legal help, call Daniel to explore further!). For more information, contact Daniel at: Call me 413-686-9023 or email dbahls@cla-ma.org

NEW community-based housing case management resourceMike Hagmaier reported that Soldier On has received VA funding for two new housing case managers that can provide case management services for up to 6 months for any veteran at risk of homelessness.  The only veterans who would not be eligible are those receiving HUD/VASH or SSVF (the main goal of the funding is to help veterans who are over-income for HUD/VASH and SSVF to exit GPD into permanent housing or stay housed to prevent entry into GPD).  All referrals will come through the SSVF hotline at 1-866-406-8449. 

New Soldier On women’s permanent housing in Pittsfield opening in January: Very exciting! 14 units, 10 applicants are out of the women’s transitional housing program (10 project based vouchers from NHA).  4 units are currently available. 

3 County CoC veterans by-name list and coordinated entry discussion: Michele LaFleur, the 3 County CoC data analyst, welcomed input on the revitalization of 3 county’s veterans by-name list.  Other 3 county providers updated with prior history, including the use of an excel-based by-name list through Hilltown CDC.  Michele will follow-up with Kate to track it down.  She is also talking more to other veteran providers to coordinate assessments.  Consensus existed to start up veteran by-name list meetings again.  Michele will follow-up with relevant providers.

Hampden County CoC update (via email from Gerry McCafferty): We have housed all of our veterans who had the Continuum vouchers. With this, we have housed all—or almost all—of our long-stayer veteran population. We are making great progress toward functional zero, but had an influx of new faces in November.  When this happens, the question is always whether they are here to stay or will quickly self-resolve or move on from the area. With long-stayers housed, our challenge is now moving to making sure we have really got our system down for new folks we identify.

Note on 3 county continuum vouchers: All have been issued but all are having a very hard time locating housing and engaging veterans in housing search.  Steve is following up with them individually to try to engage further and take stock before allotted time expires.

Section 811 vouchers: 73 Section 811 vouchers (for non-elderly disabled individuals) have been allocated to housing authorities across the region (Springfield, Chicopee, Amherst, Northampton, Greenfield, Franklin Regional) – this is fantastic progress on new vouchers!

Suggested training: Daniel Bahls offers trainings on CORI sealing – partners agreed it would be useful to offer this to the Network.  Pamela will follow-up. 
Updates:

  • Allie Wilson-Pearce is no longer coordinating intakes for HUD-VASH (is doing HUD-VASH case management exclusively).  Luz Marcano has taken over the intake role.
  • VOC update: 2 veteran units available, 1 at Chapin Mansion, and 1 at Maguder House

Next meeting date: Thursday, Feb. 6, 9:30 am – 11:00 am

Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes – 9/26/19

In attendance: Mike Hagmaier, Soldier On, Justin Maynard, VA, Julie MacPhail, VA (social worker intern), Gerry McCafferty, Hampden CoC, Jesus Pereira, Holyoke Veterans, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Kate Sweetster-Owens, VA GPD

Updates:
Kate Sweetster-Owens is shifting positions from HUD-VASH in Springfield to GPD based in Leeds. She will still be the point person for the Network/CoC and will also stay connected to Springfield’s HUD VASH program until her position is filled.

New Solider On grant from the VA: Mike reported a new grant to provide up to 6 months of case management for people who are leaving GPD who are not VASH or SSVF eligible (and also people living in the community who came out of GPD). The grant will hire 2 full-time case managers for 2 years. It is targeting people who are over-income (therefore ineligible for other resources) but still in need of support services.

Soldier On also reported successful advocacy with MHSA on a $500,000 increase in the Home and Healthy for Good line-item. $100,000 will be used for case management for women’s permanent housing program for 15 units in Pittsfield.

Built for Zero update, and getting to “functional zero”: At the end of August, the Hampden CoC was down to 10 veterans on its by-name list. September saw 4 new veterans identified so now the list is up to 14. The CoC is consulting with the BFZ coach on how to increase prevention and ultimately how to sustain functional zero. One strategy is to focus more on street outreach. It was recommended to reach out to the VA (Jim Seney) around allocating more staff to outreach. Also recommended to talk with Matt Buckley at Soldier On who oversees SSVF and outreach. Gerry will follow-up.

Three County CoC update (from Keleigh Pereira via email): Current focus is to include the veterans list in the by-names effort and to engage providers in the newly established committee structure. Committees will start meeting over the last quarter of this year and then regularly in 2020. Soldier On is working with the CoC to arrange access to its data system. Gerry will follow-up with Mike to coordinate data sharing.

Non-VHA eligible vouchers: Northampton Housing Authority got the go-ahead on the 11 vouchers in July. Hampden County has referred 8 people – some are housed, others are in housing search. Unclear on Hampshire County’s vouchers. Pamela will connect Gerry and Steve to get updated.

On filling units:
Chapin Mansion may be down to 2 available units – expanded availability beyond veterans. Some challenges around screening process. Will continue conversation with VOC.
52 Maple Court – just renovated – transitional housing – now advertising
Vikings Landing – status unclear

Mainstream Housing Voucher applications: Great progress in housing authorities applying for these vouchers in 3 County region: Amherst, Northampton, Greenfield, Franklin Regional Housing Authorities all applied for a total of 45 vouchers. Springfield and Chicopee also applied for Hampden County.

Next meeting date: December 5, 9:30-11 am, Frost building 309

Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes – 7/18/19

In attendance: Steve Connor, Western/Central Veterans Services, Craig Deraway, Soldier On, Bryan Dixon, Veterans Inc., Mike Hagmaier, Soldier On, Justin Maynard, VA, Jesus Pereira, Holyoke Veterans Services, Keleigh Pereira, 3 County CoC/Community Action, Katherine Person, Veterans Inc., Pamela Schwartz, Network, Stephanie Shaw, Chicopee Veterans Services Kate Sweetster-Owens, VA

Continuum Vouchers (reported by Gerry McCafferty via email)
We FINALLY have the Continuum vouchers (for non-VA-eligible veterans). The 2 CoCs met on Monday to figure out how to prioritize for them. We identified the first priority as chronically homeless veterans who had some active duty. There are 10 veterans that meet this criteria—5 from each CoC—and these folks have been referred. There will be 1 voucher remaining. We are doing a little research before we decide how to prioritize next.

Discussion: The group discussed the question of eligibility criteria, e.g., Guard/Reserve eligibility and question of active duty or only threshold is not having a dishonorable discharge.  Steve Connor will be seeking clarification. 

Built for Zero  (reported by Gerry McCafferty via email)
We are continuing our push  to end veteran homelessness, and just made some great progress by recently housing two long-time chronically homeless veteran households. Another chronically homeless veteran family that has been in the family shelter system for 4 years is currently waiting for her unit inspection and then they will be housed.

The Hampden County number is still 15, because we’ve had some new veterans enter out system. The Continuum vouchers will help us with the chronic folks on our list, but we will need to keep working hard to manage steady inflow and continue to be able to house new people quickly. We still have a couple barriers to doing that: 1) Two of the new people are at Samaritan Inn, and it’s always hard to connect with folks there; and 2) VOC’s Chapin Mansion, which should be a great resource for veterans, is still a challenge. There are still 7 empty SRO units and we have not been able to get anyone in there.

Data/HMIS (reported by Gerry McCafferty via email)
The Springfield/Hampden County CoC has received an HMIS Capacity Building Grant. Through the application process, we needed to identify each of our areas of weakness. One of them was lack of permanent housing beds in HMIS. We recently worked with Soldier On to get the Agawam and Chicopee programs into the system. The CoC and the VA are now working together to figure out the strategy to get VASH units in. The combined number of Soldier On and VASH units is pretty large, so this is a big help to the CoC for increasing our coverage rate.

3 County Update
Keleigh reported the 3 county CoC is working on obtaining its by-name list (in transition due to the turnover in admin lead from the Hilltown CDC).  Community Action (the new CoC lead agency) has purchased a new data system (Social Solutions Enterprise), and is in the process of setting up this system.  It is the same system as Hampden County which will afford data evaluation across the region. Three County will be starting up coordinated entry meetings again over the next month. The CoC is hiring a program specialist who will be responsible for coordinated entry (along with other fiscal responsibilities).

The 3 County CoC is planning its Annual Meeting for September 20, 10 am – 4 pm at Greenfield Community College.  The morning will be for the general public to learn more about the CoC and its structure.  The afternoon will be geared towards providers and training on systems. 

New Mainstream Vouchers
We discussed the availability of new mainstream vouchers for non-elderly disabled individuals.  Housing authorities must apply.  Keleigh has reached out to Franklin Regional and Amherst HA (both applying) and is talking to Greenfield HA next week. Pamela will inquire of Gerry about Hampden County HA status on this.

There was discussion about the challenge of finding units under the FMR limits and the no-greater-than-40%-of-income rule (which is no longer being overlooked).  We discussed the use of HUD’s “small market FMR” exception and whether our housing authorities are seeking that to increase the FMR level. 

Network FY20 training discussion:We reviewed the list thus far (from last year and other committee discussions) of our proposed training calendar:

  • 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 VAWA (Sept.) 
  • Employment trainings (per HUD NOFA requirements, done by 9/30) – will discuss further at 7/22 career services meeting 
  • Human trafficking
  • Accessing DDS and Mass Rehab (traumatic brain injury)
  • Racial equity continued (in discussion with Marc Dones) 

This group suggested adding:

  • problem gambling (use MGM as a resource)
  • how to seal or expunge a CORI (referred to Dan Bahls of CLA)
  • how to reduce leveling under the SORI (Pamela reaching out to Laurie Guidry)

It was also suggested to reach out to Human Services Forum for info on their advocacy training.

Other Updates:
There is no longer a VSO in West Springfield (Chris Lizotte left his position earlier this week).  This could pose great challenges around W. Springfield veterans getting their payments and other services. Steve Connor and others following up to assist. 

VSO coverage at Hampshire County Housing Court continues regularly and Hampden County housing court to some degree.  VSO intervention with direction to resources is saving tenancies and preventing homelessness. 

Next meeting date: Thursday, 9/26, 9:30 – 11 am, Holyoke Community College, Frost Building 309

Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes – 5/16/19

In attendance:  Steve Connor, Veterans Services, Craig Deraway, Soldier On, Bryan Dixon, Veterans, Inc., Mike Hagmaier, Soldier On, Phyllis Lutsky, VA, Justin Maynard, VA, Gerry McCafferty, Springfield-Hampden CoC, Jesus Pereira, Holyoke Veterans Services, Katherine Person, Veterans Inc., Pamela Schwartz, Network, Stephanie Shaw, Chicopee Veterans Services

State Senate Budget Update:The Senate Ways and Means Committee released its proposed budget next week.  This week is the week for filing amendments and next week the Senate debate will begin. To connect to Network advocacy on our priority amendments, please go to our blog post here

Network Housing/Homelessness Resource Fair – June 10:The Network’s Fair currently has over 60 providers signed up to share information (and about 130 registered attendees).  We also have roughly 15 legislators planning to attend from 9:30-10:00 am for a Network welcome.  HCC President Christina Royal will also welcome, as well as DHCD Assistant Undersecretary Jane Banks.  If you have not yet registered but plan to attend, please register  here(but don’t further spread the word – we are essentially at room capacity!).

Three County CoC Update:We discussed the transition that is underway in 3 County CoC administration.  Community Action recently hired a new CoC Program Coordinator Keleigh (pronounced “Kelly”) Pereira.  We look forward to welcoming her at our next meeting.  And Community Action is also currently hiring for their HMIS data analyst. This will be key to bringing the veterans by-name list meetings back on line for the 3 county region. 

Coordinated Entry update re: Soldier On/VA: Mike and Phyllis reported good progress on creating a work flow between Soldier On and the VA to ensure prioritization based on vulnerability assessments.  There was a good first meeting and a subsequent one scheduled for 5/20. Mike reported Soldier On is creating a google form to track applications and vulnerability scores.  Gerry suggested this could be incorporated into the Green River data warehouse system.  Gerry will follow-up to bring Mike and Green River together for a meeting to discuss further.


Built for Zero Update for Springfield-Hampden CoC: The by-name list has roughly 14-16 veterans on it at this point with a housing plan in place for most of them; several who were not thought to be VHA eligible are in fact eligible (a special shout-out to Jesus Pereira for his knowledge and expertise with the DPRIS data system that makes verification more readily available – see https://www.dpris.dod.mil/#!?side=accessinfo for more information). 
The HUD-VASH vouchers that we have been waiting on for non-VHA eligible veterans are once again very close to being authorized for use – latest word from US ICH is “imminent.”


Community Solutions expert Eddie Turner visiting Western MA on 5/21: Eddie Turner, a leader at Community Solutions, the parent organization for the Built for Zero campaign, is making a special visit to Western MA next Tuesday and Gerry is hosting a special veterans meeting with him from 10 am – 11:30 am at Union Station in Springfield.  We discussed the topics to address, e.g., how to build access to programs that have been harder to reach; how to fill units quickly and ensure good outcomes; how to make our outreach more effective so we connect with every single veteran who is unsheltered. Steve will invite all VSO’s to Tuesday’s meeting.


Next meeting date:
Thursday, July 18, 9:30 am – 11:00 am, Frost Building, Room 309, HCC.

Veterans Committee Minutes – 3/14/19

In attendance: Steve Connor, Central Hampshire Veterans Services, Craig Deraway, Soldier On, Mike Hagmaier, Soldier On, Justin Maynard, VA, Gerry McCafferty, Hampden CoC, Emmanuel Owusu, Springfield veterans services, Jesus Pereira, Holyoke VSO, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Stephanie Shaw, Chicopee VSO, Kate Sweetseter-Owens, HUD-VASH, Susan White, VA, Ali Wilson-Pierce, HUD-VASH

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 two other sessions will take place on April 25 and June 6. The presentation can be found by going to this link.

Network FY20 Budget and Legislative Priorities: Please click here for the Network budget priorities and here for the legislative priorities. Please contact Pamela if you are interested in participating or have any questions. 

Point in Time Count –
Update Hampden County: The 2019 Point in Time Count took place at the end of January.  25 veterans were identified as homeless, an increase from 19 last year (although the general analysis is the increase is a function of random circumstances that particular night since the number dropped to its previous year’s number shortly after the count). There were 4 veterans identified in the family system; otherwise most were in shelters and a small number unsheltered. There was great participation with the VSOs, police departments and Tapestry (especially notable was new partnerships in Holyoke).  

Springfield/Hampden CoC Built for Zero update:  There is a real focus on veterans to demonstrated that getting to “functional zero” is possible.  The largest remaining challenge is housing non-VA eligible veterans. The CoC is continuing to await final VA approval of the Memorandum that will allow the use of HUD-VASH vouchers for 13 non-VA eligible veterans. Meanwhile, systems for quick identification of veteran status and referral at emergency shelters continue to improve and get further refined. A long-term chronically homeless veteran (lived on the streets over 10 years) was just housed at Soldier On.  

There will be a cross-check between the PIT count and the by-name list to see where veterans exist on one list but not the other, and will try to close the gap.
 
3 County CoC Point in Time Count Update
22 unsheltered individuals identified
1 veteran among them
Due to the transition taking place between the CoC lead – from Hilltown CDC to Community Action – there are data systems in transition as well, so more complete data on the PIT count is delayed. 

Integrating veterans into coordinated entry:
We discussed the conversation between CoC leads and DHCD regarding the process and allowability for changing tenant selection plans from first come-first serve to vulnerability based (and therefore capable of being incorporated into coordinated entry).  We got this guidance from DHCD:
DHCD, and CEDAC would both be open to amendments of tenant selection plans that would allow already existing properties with homeless units and with HIF and Home (and maybe others?) to utilize Coordinated Entry.  The process seems pretty straight forward – simply submit the amendment language to start the process. Owner(s) of the affordable housing project(s) should call DHCD and CEDAC first to discuss before putting in any labor revising their Tenant Selection Plan.  This is exciting progress and also only the start of figuring out the complexities of implementing coordinated entry with all veterans at Soldier On and elsewhere. We agreed we would have a follow-up meeting to flesh out some of the challenges. Pamela will reach out to Mike, Sue, Kate, Steve, Ali, Phyllis, Gerry and Sara to coordinate a convenient meeting date. 

VSO’s at Housing Courts: Steve Connor reported that VSO’s are going to housing courts and district courts across the region to be available with resources and support for veterans facing eviction. Good results! 

Other announcements:
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

SAVE THE DATE: The Network’s 3rd Annual Housing/Homelessness Resource Fair for Providers – Monday, June 10, 9 am – 12:30 pm, Holyoke Community College.  We will be inviting our Western MA legislative delegation to attend from 9:30 am – 10:00 am for a welcome and acknowledgment of their support of our efforts. To register to attend: go here. To register to request table space to share resources: go here
Next meeting date: Thursday May 16, 9:30-11 am, Frost 309, HCC

Veterans Committee Minutes – 1/29/19

n attendance: Kate Bavelock, 3 county CoC, Steve Connor, Veterans Services, Craig Deroaway, SoldierOn, Erin Forbush, ServiceNet, Mike Hagmaier, SoldierOn, Phyllis Lutsky, HUD/VASH, Gerry McCafferty (via phone), Hampden CoC, Katie Miernecki, ServiceNet, Jesus Pereira, Holyoke VSO, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Jim Seney, VAMC, Kate Sweetser-Owens, HUD/VASH, Sue White, HUD/VASH, Allie Wilson-Pierce, HUD/VASH 

Reviewed current status:
Three County CoC is in transition with leadership moving to Community Action (HMIS and Coordinated Entry contract will move by 2/1; the remainder beginning by 6/1). There were a lot of setbacks in the creation of data systems but now work is underway with the consultant Green River (Gerry reported the great success Hampden CoC has had using Green River to create by-name lists, including pulling from HMIS)

Goals
One of our goals is not losing track of veterans as they travel across both CoC’s so we can provide as much continual service as possible. This requires data sharing and that capacity is possible!  

Another goal is to ensure all systems (VA/Soldier On/community) are on the same page around prioritization of units. Right now veterans in GPD beds are not on the by-name list – there was concern that the numbers in GPD would bog down real movement on the list; Gerry shared their experience of NOT talking about each veteran at each meeting but that having them all on the same list allows for comparing across the system who has the highest needs. 

If both on-the-street veterans and Soldier On veterans share a list, it would allow the region to have a global view of the challenge and to cross-reference on needs and services. Assessments could be done only on those veterans in GPD who are chronic, have the highest acuity and/or cycle in and out of homelessness.  This way the region could work from one list. 

Housing unit prioritization
In terms of prioritization of units, Soldier On shared that they are awaiting clarification on whether it is allowable to shift their wait lists from first-come first-serve to acuity-based (in relation to funding based on agreed upon tenant selection plans). Gerry noted that HUD readily gave approval for this kind of switch but there is not yet clarity on the state level. 
Meanwhile, Sue and Steve will continue the work of ensuring veterans’ paperwork and other procedures are in order for when the presumed approval for the shift comes.

Tracking vacancies in non-HUD funded properties:The group discussed the challenge of engaging non-HUD funded property managers in the coordinated entry process (frequently openings are discovered later than necessary). Gerry pointed out that the Green River data system allows for quick identification of vacancies and tracking of occupancy – this requires getting housing orgs to use this tool. We need DHCD’s help to make this happen.

Next steps

  • stand by (and support as needed) Community Action’s hires and acquisition of Green River software ASAP
  • HUD/VASH will start screening processes so ready to go when get approval to prioritize based on acuity
  • Pamela will reach out to DHCD Assistant Undersecretary Jane Banks to meet (with CoC leads) to discuss how DHCD can better support the prioritization process (clear mandate to funded entities to adopt tenant selection plans on that basis).

Announcements

  • In addition to VSO coverage in Housing Court on Mondays in Northampton, now VSOs are in Springfield Housing Court on Thursdays – providing support when veteran identified
  • Good news!  2 non-VA eligible veterans who have been homeless for 5-10 years were recently housed!  One at Soldier On’s housing in Agawam, another through a Springfield mainstream voucher.  A huge team effort – congratulations everyone!

Next meeting date:Thursday, March 14, 9:30 am – 11 am, Frost Building, Room 309, HCC

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 – https://esternmasshousingfirstorg.stage.site – 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.