Individual Services Committee
Meeting Minutes
November 7, 2013

In attendance:  Carl Cignoni, Hampshire County Corrections/DOC Re-entry, Christina Densmore, ARISE, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS – Homeless Services, Kevin Noonan, Craig’s Doors, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield – Housing, Andrea Miller, Network data analyst, Bill Miller, Friends of the Homeless, Dave Modzelewski, Network housing coordinator, Claudia Phillips, Mercy Medical Center  Health Care for the Homeless, Pamela Schwartz, Network coordinator

Review of Housing Options Tool

Andrea shared the Housing Options Tool (HOT) in detail on the big screen (wall to be precise).  Thank you, Andrea.

Discussion that followed included:

  • Emphasized importance of tracking vacancies.  Andrea has hired a part-time assistant to facilitate the development of this piece of the tool.
  • Noted that we need to bring together the providers of Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) to discuss the issue of tracking vacancies in relation to wait list.  For this tool to function best we must close the lag time when a vacancy occurs.
  • Confirmed we need a designated staff person to maintain steady contact with providers, build outreach and use of tool, track vacancies, etc.
  • We must figure out how to prioritize within the wait lists, coupled with coordinated intake/assessment.  We need to blend the prioritization process into HOT.
  • Discussed CA CoC coordinated assessment tool (“Every Door Open”)

Looked at CA tool “Every Door Open” – Coordinated Assessment – where entire community is using same assessment tool, same data collection forms.

Gerry noted that in order for us to arrive at coordinated assessment, we must first establish common ideas about the criteria for transitional vs. permanent supportive housing.  We may have a system that makes it too “easy” to take less hard-to-house people into PSH. We must collectively look at how we’re using our resources and refine our process for making sure we’re making the best matches between individuals and housing options.  We need to standardize this!

We all agreed coordinated assessment is about “screening in” not “screening out.”

Next step:  Gerry will draft initial guidelines around screening for transitional vs. PSH.

We’re very focused on PSH while we also need standards for prevention, rapid re-housing.  Need to bring rapid re-housing providers into this conversation.  Rapid re-housing used to be a great tool but less so lately due to its limited funds and duration.  Fewer people are able to take advantage of it.  We may need to look at shifting resources so they are better utilized.

Andrea also shared the Vulnerability Index and Service Prioritization Decision Assistance Tool (VI-SPDAT), a “super tool” gaining steam as a best practice for use in screening and assessing persons who are homeless and may need supportive services or Housing First.  She will send it along for our review.

For our December meeting, we will review a broad outline on assessment and program standards.  Pamela will assist with targeted outreach to providers.

Discussion of how to better serve hard-to-serve homeless individuals:

How to ensure quick response to make sure they stay safe?  Who are we to call?

For example:  how to get a person who is willing to enter detox into detox ASAP to avoid further homelessness.  How to get people to the right kind of help?

How to address issue on a cold winter night?  We need triage to ensure people stay safe.

Christine of ARISE expressed deep concern that someone could die for failure to know where to find the help.  Everyone shared the same concern.

Discussed the need for a respite program for homeless people suffering from health crises.  Could the CoC be a resource for funding for that purpose?  Should we look into sobering centers, the non-medical model, a one to two week program.  Is a warming center possible?  We need another winter option to be made accessible.

Consider using the Network to push for the medical respite center; get hospital and business support to do a pilot.  Would it not be advantageous for the hospital to fund such a place instead of paying for intoxicated people in their emergency rooms?

ARISE wants to know:  who to call when the person in crisis comes into their doors.

Gerry will contact Health Care for the Homeless to discuss this further, as well as Baystate Medical Center.  Will report back as soon as additional information is obtained.

All affirmed our shared goals:  keep people safe; get them the help they need.

Next meeting:

Thursday, December 5
Friends of the Homeless
755 Worthington Street, Springfield

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