Statewide Plan to End Veteran Homelessness
Regional Implementation
November 6, 2013

In attendance:  Jesus Arce, City of Springfield – Housing, Linda Candage, Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development/CareerPoint, Dave Christopolis, Three County CoC, Scott Cleveland, HUD, Steve Connor, Central Hampshire Veterans Services, Ben Cluff, MA Department of Public Health, Shannon Fahey, MA Dept Correction Re-entry, Sue Fortin, MA  Department of Mental Health, Stephanie Harrington, HUD, Michele Hyde, Veterans Inc., Shara Katsos, VA New England, Valenda Liptak, Western Mass. Hospital, Ann Lentini, Domus, Inc., Jay Levy, Eliot  CHS – Homeless Services,  Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield – Housing, Paula Newcomb, HUD,  Kevin Noonan, Craig’s Doors, Charly Oliva,  MA Dept. of Veterans Services, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield – Housing,  Jerry Ray, Mental Health Association, Jim Seney, VA CWM,  Derrick Tallman, Western Mass. Hospital,  Susan White, VA CWM

Liz Rogers, ICHH:  shared powerpoint summary of Statewide Plan to End Veteran Homelessness.  Click here.

Stephanie Harrington, HUD:  Intends for HUD Continua of Care to be vehicle for implementation of this plan, including the creation of a working group on veteran homelessness; use federal HEARTH requirement for governance structure to support this effort.  Possibly obtain state VA support as well.  Membership would include:  local Veterans Services Officers,  VA reps, Veteran providers, SSVF providers, housing authorities, veterans.

Establish goals (following overarching goal of ending veteran homelessness):

  • Ensure thorough representation
  • build partnerships with organizations
  • identify gaps in representation
  • build political will (relationships with local officials)
  •  identify obstacles to placing vets in VASH units
  • identify plan to prevent additional veterans from becoming homeless
  • develop baseline number of homeless vets and set target to reduce that number.

Possible activities:  keep list of veterans, review their progress in permanent housing, identify homeless vets in community through data sharing in VA, participate in community events.

Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield:  provided background around our region’s 2 CoC’s and the relationship with the Western Mass. Network to End Homelessness; our current committee structure and the assumption that the veterans committee would fall within same structure of Network/CoC integration.

Jay Levy, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services:  provided background on monthly REACH meetings where providers discuss chronically homeless individuals and brainstorm best match in services/housing.  Could use this structure as a springboard for work on homeless veterans.

Shara Katsos, VA: shared federal VA goal to end veteran homelessness by 2015.  Increase in veteran homelessness in recent years is a reflection of better outreach and better identification of the problem.    About 2 months ago, VA contracted to create a gap analysis, which includes every VA facility, looking at resources in CoC area, determining the need, the number of homeless veterans, the number who are likely to become homeless before 2015.  This gap analysis will provide important backdrop for our committee work.

Shara drew attention to the “grant per diem” program, a resource that provides transitional housing for up to 2 years.  There are currently vacancies and we should be sure to be aware of this resource with the veteran population.

Discussed data collection efforts:  goal is to merge HMIS with VA HOMES data.  This effort is about to be piloted in Boston.  Gerry shared that she has made the “are you a veteran” question mandatory to answer in order to move forward on the HMIS data form.  Ben Cluff pointed out that transitional housing programs in DPH do no record veteran status.  Steve Connor pointed out that so many programs have different criteria and our first challenge is to break down the silos so we can cross-refer.

Dave Christopolis commented:  we’re trying to build a system, another competing population that suffers from same problem of homelessness.  We could use help focusing on capacity issues – balancing meetings with getting the work done.  Data relates to capacity as well.  We need to give equal weight to sub-populations.  We have limited resources to do training for people regarding how they’re collecting info and making it available.

Jim Sweney observed that we need to further prioritize what we want to focus on.  The local VA is “slave to 2 masters:”   must use certain percentage of vouchers to house homeless veterans  vs. must end chronic homelessness.  Inherent struggle over priorities given need at any given time and given pressures to use vouchers.

Mike Hagmaier, Soldier On:  awarded SSVF grant for this year – goal to serve 200 vets, 120 homeless, 80 prevention.  Grant per diem housing; permanent housing in Pittsfield and soon to be in Northampton and in 1.5 years in Agawam. Sub-contracted with Springfield Partners for services for veterans – will be launched next week.

Gerry noted that there are so many veterans services – hard to keep track of where to send people.  Would be great to have a one pager summarizing resources.

Next step:  agreed to get smaller group together (Jim, Sue, Steve, Dave, Gerry and others) to brainstorm best next steps around implementation; where to use pre-existing structures vs. creating new ones to further this work; how to use VA gap analysis; how to create summary of resources.  Pamela will follow-up and be back in touch with all.

Big thanks to Liz, Stephanie and Shara for their time in Western Massachusetts!


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