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 [email protected] 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

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