Individual Services Committee Meeting
December 5, 2013

In attendance:  Carl Cignoni, Hampshire Sheriff’s Office/DOC Re-entry, Pamela Cook, SHINE Gandara Center, Karen Dean, Hampden County Sheriff’s Department, Christina Denmore, ARISE, L. Viviana deJesus, Independent Contractor, Steve Flynn, VA, Janice Humason, Friends of the Homeless, Margaret Jordan, Human Resources Unlimited, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS,-Homeless Services, Jennifer Lucca, Samaritan Inn, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Patty McDonnell, SMOC, Bill Miller, Friends of the Homeless, Dave Modzelewski, Network, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Jerry Ray, Mental Health Association, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Joe Schroeter, Eliot CHS, Rebeka Wilder, Craig’s Doors, Delphine Wray, Friends of the Homeless

Discussion of Springfield-based Maple Hill Rest Home closing 12/31, 19 very low-income people living there will be displaced.  More in-depth discussion around alternative housing will take place at Friends of Homeless provider meeting on Tuesday, 12/10.

Coordinated Intake and Assessment

HUD NOFA applications due 2/3.  Main application is for 2 years – scoring will bear on both FY2013 and FY2014.

Hampden County CoC – didn’t get bonus money last year (lost up to $1m last year after getting it for 5-6 years).  Because of sequestration there are no new funds, no bonus funds for FY13, unclear about FY14.  There may be the ability to create new projects by budget cuts in existing projects.

This application is strongly pushing the federal agenda (“Opening Doors”), specifically focused on ending chronic and veteran homelessness by 2015.

HUD’s push recognizes that chronic homelessness is a function of most difficult to serve being screened out of programs.  Our focus needs to be how we increase screening IN people, and serving the hardest to serve people.  When we have rules about sobriety, mental health treatment, etc. as requirement to access housing, we screen out the most vulnerable.  HUD is pushing us to think about how we target every permanent supportive housing resource to chronically homeless people and ensure they get into these programs.  And we need to make sure we are prioritizing in the same way.

NOFA is part of implementing the  HEARTH Act – the goal is to move to one single system with a number of providers in it.  Huge organizational change.

Gerry provided hand-outs on initial thoughts regarding intake and assessment process and criteria.  See attachments.

With 1,400 homeless individuals in our region, we have more need than housing supply, so the question becomes how do we make sure the right people are getting served.

Access: how do people in need connect to services?

Need common tool, common application, common data application, information sharing, referral protocols

Assignment of intervention:
Prevention, diversion, short-term subsidy/rapid rehousing; ongoing subsidy, ongoing subsidy plus supportive services, transitional housing

Looking at CoC standards, how do we work towards goals around meeting chronic homelessness.   Raises questions around  transitional housing: does it solve homelessness or just delay it?  Is it most appropriate for targeted populations, e.g., youth up to age 24 and people with substance abuse issues

This is a good time to examine Springfield Housing Authority’s program and the best use of units.  Perhaps we need to look at assigning Permanent Supportive Housing units through the REACH Committees, using the vulnerability assessment.  We also may want to consider housing the  chronically homeless on scattered site model (preempting neighborhood resistance to congregate housing).

How do changes in health care impact on this population?  We also need to look at how we’re using health insurance to bring in as much service as possible.

Also reminded about Andrea’s creation of the Housing Options Tool – the online mechanism to match housing needs with housing resources.

Agreed at the next meeting to look at a common application tool and common eligibility criteria.  Jay suggested we work towards common eligibility for state agencies so that we can better coordinate the application of all state resources.

Discussed the challenge of accurately tracking the true number of homeless individuals, especially when the number is constantly changing.  Consider whether we adopt HUD definition (which includes self-declaration of homelessness) or whether we require verification.  Noted that once a person is “verified,” the data could be entered into HMIS and prevent the need to continually reverify.

Next meeting Jan. 2, 10:30-noon, Northampton

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