Individual Services Committee Meeting
February 28, 2013

In Attendance:  Jenn Blain, Craig’s Place, Lisa Mary Carabello, Amherst Community Connections, Jennifer Goldman, Housing for All, Hwei-Ling Greeney, Amherst Community Connections, Peg Keller, City of Northampton, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Jenifer Lucca, Samaritan Inn, Claudia Phillips, Mercy Medical Center Health Care for the Homeless, Jerry Ray, Mental Health Association, Joe Russo,  Veterans Services Hampshire County, Pamela Schwartz, Network coordinator, Rebekah Wilder, Craig’s Place

Emergency Shelter Update
Amherst shelter – constantly full.  11 women there all last week.  Turning away 3 or 4 men a night.  Have sent some to cot shelter (Northampton can usually take 1).  During winterstorm NEMO, town expanded capacity to 34 – 29, 29, 30 – everything went very smoothly.

Hwei-Ling raised question of whether/how shelter capacity adjustments are part of city or town’s emergency plan in face of natural disasters.  Springfield has “cold weather” policy to expand shelter capacity automatically.  Would like for Northampton and Amherst to be coordinated around this (Amherst requires town approval to expand; Northampton defers to ServiceNet and their process for shelter decisions).

Claudia noted Medical Reserve Corps established by town, a vehicle for emergency services  – wondering how Northampton and Amherst connect to this.  Peg Keller wants to follow-up with Claudia and learn more.  Thanks to Jen Blain for providing the link to the MRC:

Samaritan Inn:  over-capacity based on funding.  Funded for 30, have 37 beds.  Since extending women’s dorm by 5 beds to 10 total, stay over-capacity.  Can stay 90 days with possibility of extension (which is usually granted).  Receives vital supports services from CHS Eliot Services.

ServiceNet:  The 3 shelters have been at capacity- Interfaith shelter 20- Easthampton overflow 6- Grove St Inn- 21. Pretty much 47 individuals during these winter months.

Unlike last year, we have not been seeing as many women this year. From the interfaith we turn away about 10-15 a month for both capacity and under the influence. Its a pretty even split down the middle for the reasons why turn aways happen.

NEMO: We overflowed 3 to the grove st inn couches and filled all beds at interfaith- 22 then had about 2 on the couches. So, we overflowed about 7 people during the storm.

When we turn away we always refer to Amherst and, if possible, provide a single bus pass to get there.

Joe Russo:  SoldierOn opening shelter for women veterans with 20 beds in Leeds.  Also available to children.

Other Work Group/Committee Updates

MissionWEST (SAMHSA):  going well, meeting housing/service goals. Relying right now on Mental Health Association’s Shelter Plus Care units (13) – need to meet 40 by the end of this federal fiscal year.  Also working with Springfield Housing Authority, SMOC on Bowdoin Street.  On data side,  Andrea Miller is developing the “Housing Options Tool,” (HOT), an online tool for tracking housing inventory, eligibility criteria, support services in order to efficiently match housing resources with individual’s needs.

Work Group to House People with Sex Offense Histories:  Continuing to work with HAP about expanding policy.  Will meet with Lorraine House staff shortly to discuss possibilities.  Hwei-Ling and Lisa Mary shared data from outreach of numbers of homeless sex offenders in Franklin and Hampshire Counties.  Will share in more detail at next work group meeting.

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth:  Through the Gandara Center, working with an intern who is reaching out to homeless population in Springfield to learn more about the population, particular challenges and needs.

Update on Fireman Foundation Grant for Workforce Development for Homeless Families:  holding press conference to launch the grant on 3/5.  Very exciting collaboration.

Legislative Advocacy:  Pamela reported on meetings with area legislators, including one tomorrow with Senator Rosenberg and Rep. Kocot, along with others’ aides.  Continuing to push on tax reform (revenue for education and transportation) and other budget priorities as provided in legislative priority hand-out.

Point In Time Count:

Initial informal resulst:  Northampton had 12 unsheltered, twice as much as usual (Northampton Police Department help).  West Springfield higher than usual (but better coverage).  Unclear what is in fact an increase or simply better capacity to locate due to police and other help.

Hampden County higher than in past years (but Springfield a little lower).

Other updates:

Claudia Phillips of Mercy Medical Health Care for the Homeless reported on their High End Utilizer Grant which aims to reduce ER visits among homeless people (4 or more visits/year).  Contact Claudia at [email protected] if you have clients.

Next meeting:

4/25, 9:30-11, Northampton Senior Center

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