Springfield’s monthly Continuum of Care meeting took place today.  This month’s items: 1) a visit from Springfield Police Department’s Lt. Tripes; 2) a presentation from Gandara’s New Wave program, which provides substance abuse services to youth and young adults; and 3) updates on ICHH, HPRP, Springfield’s on-line resource directory, and a planned training series directed toward providers of homeless and Housing First services.

Lt. Trites joined us this month to continue working toward improved communication and enhanced collaboration between homeless service providers and Springfield police.  In our conversation, we touched on several important issues and provided contact and referral information regarding: outreach to people on the streets; day-time drop-in centers, particularly the relatively new centers run by New North Citizens Council and Tapestry Health/La Voz.   There was mention of the importance of relationships between police and providers regarding safety issues.  There was also discussion of the City’s Health and Human Services Department, and how that Department can assist with access to substance abuse treatment beds.  Gerry McCafferty commited to creation of referral cards to give to police officers, both for their own use and to provide to homeless people they encounter in their work.

Several staff from Gandara’s New Wave program came to the meeting to talk about their new program, funded by SAMHSA.  The New Wave/Nueva Honda  program is designed specifically for African American and Latino adolescents (ages 13-18) and young adults (ages 18-24) who live in the South End, North End, Liberty Heights and Mason Square areas of Springfield.  The program provides for the needs of adolescents and young adults with serious substance abuse problems and co-occurring mental health disorders.  The program is free for clients who meet entry criteria and agree to voluntarily complete therapy.  New Wave uses a client-centered, harm reduction approach that draws on clients’ strengths as a motivational tool to live a substance free life.  The course of treatment can take anywhere from 3 to 6 months and may be combined with other therapies.

Services provided include: Mental Health screening and treatment; Substance Abuse screening and treatment; Outreach and case management; HIV prevention education; HIV screening; HIV/AIDS services (for HIV positive individuals).  The project i s staffed by outreach workers/case managers, Mental Health/Substance Abuse clinicians and a city-wide administration.  Locations for the program are: Phoenix House, 130 Maple Street, Springfield and Gandara Center, 15 Mulberry Street, Springfield.  For additional information, or to make an appointment, call (413) 736-4017.

CoC updates included: 1) the Western Mass Network to End Homelessness is hiring a Director of Regional Coordination; 2) upcoming funding opportunities include ICHH/Regional RFPs for Individual and FamilAssistance, and state and city HPRP;  3) the City is working on an online resource directory–drafts were handed out for feedback; and 4) the City is putting together a local best practices training series, to cover topics including: trauma-informed services; harm reduction; motivational interviewing; overcoming CORI; tips for accessing housing; and engagement to support housing stability.

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