Note: All CoC Board Meeting Agendas and Meeting Minutes are posted on the website.  Go the the Hampden County CoC page (in the CoC Corner), scroll to GOVERNANCE, and click on ‘Agendas and Minutes of Board of Directors meetings.’

These new draft minutes (that follow) are posted there in PDF, as well as agendas and minutes from previous meetings.

Present: Tawana Williams (DHCD), Karen Dean (Hampden County Sheriff’s Dept.), Doreen Fadus (Mercy Medical), Charlie Knight (Rainville), Delphine Wray (FOH), Heather (CHD), David Ferenz (HRU/Lighthouse), Lizzy Ortiz (City of Springfield, Jerry Ray (Mental Health Association), Lauren Voyer (HAP), Steve Huntley (Valley Opportunity Council), Sylvia deHass Phillips (United Way), Dawn DiStefano (YWCA), Marianne Polmetier (River Valley Counseling Center), Kathryn Buckley-Brawner (Catholic Charities), Gerry McCafferty (City of Springfield), Jennifer Lucca (Samaritan Inn), Mike Suzor (STCC).

Absent: Maria Perez (New North Citizens Council), Charly Oliva (Springfield Veterans Services Dept.), Alicia Zoeller (Holyoke), Kathleen Lingenberg (Chicopee), Diana McClean (Westfield), Shannon Barry (Springfield Public Schools), Ronn Johnson (MLK Jr. Family Services), Charlotte Dickerson, Christina Densmore (Arise), Paul Bailey (Springfield Partners for Community Action), Pamela Schwartz (Western Mass. Network to End Homelessness, Steve Trueman (Regional Employment Board), Mary Walachy (Davis Foundation).

  1. Welcome and Introductions

Gerry McCafferty welcomed Board members and members introduced themselves to the group.

  1. Review of Minutes

The Board reviewed the minutes of the April 4, 2014 meeting. Steve Huntley made a motion to approve, which was seconded by Sylvia DeHass Phillips. The vote was unanimous to approve the minutes.

  1. Outcomes Reports

Gerry reported on several outcomes reports.

Point-in-Time Count

The CoC now has complete information from the January 29, 2014 point-in-time count. The data is summarized in a handout handout. Gerry reviewed the handout with the group.

An item that stood out in this year’s count was the number of pregnant women (plus some partners) who were in the family shelter system. There was discussion of whether we should actually be counting these people as “families” for several reasons. First, the increase that’s attributable to this population masks real improvements we have made in addressing homelessness among individuals. Second, in our planning and advocacy for solutions, we need to see these households as families, because they will need solutions for families. Unfortunately, for PIT reporting, we are limited in who we count as individuals or families by HUD guidance. However, we agreed that it is important for us to continue to be aware of this trend locally, and to incorporate this data into our strategic planning.

Tawana Williams from DHCD provided clarification of assistance rules for pregnant women: any pregnancy qualifies a woman for emergency shelter assistance; once the woman is 5 months’ pregnant, she becomes eligible for cash assistance.

Lauren Voyer from HAP asked whether women who are pregnant qualify as ‘families’ for CoC-funded programs that are for families. Gerry McCafferty agreed to research this and provide the answer. Note from Gerry: this question will be addressed at the 7/17/14 CoC Grant Recipient Training.

          Report on Returns to Homelessness

The City of Springfield hired Andrea Miller to undertake some analysis of our HMIS data, and specifically, to identify the percentage of people who exit our homelessness system and return to it within 2 years. Gerry McCafferty gave an overview of that analysis at the April 4, 2014 Board meeting, and there were many questions about the data, so we invited Andrea to our June Board meeting to explain her findings.

Andrea presented her findings in a Powerpoint presentation, attached. Andrea used the Tableau program to assist us in visualizing the findings. The Tableau site includes very detailed data, at program-specific levels. Gerry McCafferty agreed to forward the link to the Tableau site to Board members and to directors of programs that have data reflected, so these people can gain further understanding of their own programs and CoC performance.

  1. Presentation: Housing Opportunity Tool

Andrea Miller also gave a demonstration of the Housing Options Tool that she has developed for our region. The brief demonstration consisted of a real-time walk-through of the tool, which will be live on the website of the Western Mass Network to End Homelessness as of July 1, 2014. HOT facilitates identification of supportive housing units throughout western Massachusetts, enabling users to use various filters (such as location, eligibility, amenities) to locate appropriate units. The site allows providers to report vacant units, and enables people searching for housing to access eligibility criteria and program applications directly from the site. 

  1. Strategic Plan Items – from the FY13 CoC Competition 

The FY13 application includes the CoC’s strategic planning for the upcoming year. Gerry McCafferty reviewed/reported on some of the key parts of this year’s strategic plan.

  Increase PSH Units for Chronically Homeless

  • VOC will be opening 8 units of family PSH for chronically homeless families within the next few months.
  • Soldier On is expected to begin construction of its veteran PSH project in Agawam in early fall 2014, and have units available in 2015, including 15 units of PSH for chronically homeless veterans.
  • HAP’s Turning Point will convert from TH to PSH in early fall 2014. Turning Point will consist of 9 units of PSH for chronically homeless families.
  • Upcoming 2015 expansions and conversions: MHA will increase its S+C stock by 20 units;   Annie’s House will convert to PSH for chronically homeless- 15 units;  Springfield Safe Havens will convert to PSH for chronically homeless – 5 units; Loreto House will convert to PSH for chronically homeless- 21 units; Samaritan Inn Transitional will convert to PSH for chronically homeless – 10 units.

Increase Rapid Rehousing Assistance

HAP has received a new CoC award which will provide additional resources to assist homeless families with rapid rehousing.

Employment, SSI-SSDI, Medicaid/Medicare

The Board discussed the fact that our CoC consistently underperforms the HUD goal for participants increasing employment income. We discussed that one of our barriers is a common perception that, for disabled homeless people, we set priority goals of access to income from SSI/SSD, and a housing subsidy, but do not include access to employment as an equally high priority. There is a frequent perception that disabled people cannot work at all, and there’s not enough awareness that employment can be an important component of housing stability and well-being.

In our FY13 CoC application strategic plan, we indicated that we would conduct training this year on these concepts, as well as informing people about the programs in our community which support employment for people with disabilities.

At the Board meeting, we decided to bring together a workgroup to plan this training. The following people volunteered to be part of the workgroup: Lizzy Ortiz, Karen Dean, Charlie Knight, and Kathryn Buckley-Brawner. Marianne Polmetier also suggested that we include Millie Colon.

  1. CoC Policies and Procedures – Coordinated Assessment

 Gerry McCafferty updated the Board that the Individual Services Committee has been working on coordinated assessment for many months, and has reached agreement that our CoC is ready to move toward use of the Vulnerability Index-Service Prioritization Decision Assistance Tool (VI-SPDAT). This assessment tool, quickly gaining use throughout the country, provides a scoring system that assists providers in determining a person’s relative need for permanent supportive housing. A copy of the VI-SPDAT is attached.

Gerry asked that the Board endorse use of the VI-SPDAT as an assessment requirement for CoC-funded PSH providers.

Mike Suzor moved that the Board do so, and Charlie Knight seconded the motion.

In the discussion that followed, Board members raised concerns about the tool’s intrusiveness; the length of time it would take; whether the information would go into HMIS and, if so, how we would protect participant’s confidentiality; and who would do the screening (people referring, or the programs to which people are referred to?).

After group discussion and recognition that there were too many unanswered questions at this point to require the tool, the Board decided that a committee should come together to examine the issues and create policies and procedures for use of the tool. The following people agreed to be part of this committee: Steve Huntley, Marianne Polmetier, Lauren Voyer, Jerry Ray, and Charlie Knight.

The Board will consider the full issue again at its September meeting. 

  1. Board of Directors Leadership and Membership

 The meeting ran out of time before the Board was able to discuss this issue, so it was tabled.

 The meeting adjourned.

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