Veterans Committee
February 27, 2015

In attendance: Ben Cluff, DPH, Steve Connor, Veterans Services, Scott Haskell, Turners House, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Matt Simmonds, Simtech Consulting, Dominick Sondrini, Soldier On, Kerry Spitzer, MIT grad student, Sabrina Willard, Springfield Partners SSVF

Update on Hampden County Zero 2016:

Gerry McCafferty provided a hand-out summarizing the homeless veteran counts in Hampden County for 2014 and 2015 (click here). She also displayed Zero 2016’s fill-in-the-blank poster to track monthly counts of homeless veterans, how many housed, how far to goal of ending homelessness.  here .

We agreed that we need to better integrate the Zero 2016 campaign and the Network Opening Doors Plan (in process to localize the federal Opening Doors Plan to End Homelessness) with our veterans committee work. Towards that end, we agreed that for our next meeting (on 4/3), we will conduct broader outreach to the Springfield and Hampden County CoC area in general to ensure good representation from all veterans services and housing groups. Pamela will follow-up with Gerry, Sue, Dave, Ben and Sabrina to ensure the invitation list is as complete as it should be.

In terms of reaching veterans, it was noted that there is both the challenge of outreach – identifying homeless veterans – and “in-reach” – connecting with homeless veterans who are staying at various sites that are less connected to the CoC and broader services in general (e.g., Rescue Mission in Springfield where there are many homeless veterans).

Update from Matt Simmonds of Simtech:

Special thanks to Matt for his trip from Boston to share his work around veteran homelessness in Boston (on very short notice!). Matt and Simtech Consulting have been retained by the Network to produce the Network’s Opening Doors Plan, to be released by the end of June, which will provide a data-driven, regional plan incorporating the work of both our CoC’s and all providers across the region to arrive at baseline measures and goals for preventing and ending homelessness in the region.

Matt shared some of the challenges Boston has discovered with the VI-SPDAT, specifically that an individual can score 8 or 9 (need a 10 to qualify for permanent supportive housing) even though they may have severe mental health issues and a person who scored “10 or higher” could actually be less in need. We all acknowledged limitations with VI-SPDAT and that an additional layer of review may be necessary (in our region’s case, our REACH meetings provide this). But at the same time a uniform tool and obtaining regional buy-in on coordinated intake and assessment is a vital starting point and the VI-SPDAT provides us with that. We assume there will be adjustments down the road.

Matt provided a hand-out demonstrating the flow of data from HMIS systems into a data warehouse that would ultimately allow for the matching of individuals to housing (click here). He also provided an example of the data applied in Boston (see here).

Review of Veteran Outreach Hand-outs:

We did a final review of the outreach and assessment hand-outs that Steve and Sue put together (thank you to both!). Final edits were recommended and both Steve and Sue will incorporate and send back to Pamela who will then distribute. Pamela also discussed Katherine Persons creation of the VSO Incident Report Tracker which is attached here for direct viewing (apologies for not bringing it to the meeting as intended!).

Kerry Spitzer veteran outreach: Kerry is an MIT grad student who is doing her dissertation on veterans and housing needs. She is looking to recruit veterans for both interview (about 12) and surveys (about 150). She distributed a draft outreach card to veterans to ask for committee feedback. She will provide the final version to us for wider distribution.

Next meeting: Friday, April 3, 9 am – 10:30 am, Springfield location to be determined.

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