Individual Services Meeting
November 6, 2014

In attendance: Elizabeth Bienz, ServiceNet, Eneroliza Cardena, HRU, Ben Cluff, DPH, Steve Connor, Veterans Services, Darlene Ducott, HRU, Lakita Flintroy, HRU, Janice Humason, Friends of the Homeless, Nicole King, Friends of the Homeless, Todd Konlezhny, HRU, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Sarah Lopes, Friends of the Homeless, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Kate Miernecki, ServiceNet, Bill Miller, Friends of the Homeless, Dave Modzelewski, Network, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Claudia Phillips, Mercy Medical Health Care for the Homeless, Jerry Ray, Mental Health Association, Denise Rivera, Friends of the Homeless, Laura Saponare, Catholic Charities, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Lynn White, HRU, Rebekah Wilder, Craig’s Doors, Delphine Wray, Friends of the Homeless

Hampden County CoC Update (Gerry McCafferty)

Funding update

HUD application submitted for grants starting 2015. 2 programs did not submit renewals – Samaritan Inn Transitional Housing Program and Loreto House. Loreto House is seeking alternate funds to continue its model. Jay Levy reports that Samaritan Inn has said that it has saved funds to operate at least another year. Both programs will receive CoC funds through August 2015.

Two programs under this new funding cycle will convert to permanent supportive housing (PSH) – Annie’s house (for chronically homeless women) and Safe Havens. 3 new programs: 5 new PSH units at HRU; CHD (via HUD’s “bonus project) will provide PSH for 8 chronically homeless families; Catholic Charities will provide Rapid Rehousing (RRH) funds for homeless families who are not EA eligible. These new grants will likely start in Spring 2015. Also just starting up from last application round – 8 units of PSH for families at VOC and HAP RRH funds for EA eligible families (to give these families a longer subsidy to sustain housing).

Next grant cycle will most likely be Spring 2015. It is very possible that Hampden County’s available pool of funds will increase as much as $1 million (to meet the “pro rata” need since the Springfield CoC expanded to include all of Hampden County). This could be an excellent opportunity to apply for new programs. Given HUD’s priorities, it is very likely they will fund PSH for chronically homeless individuals and RRH for homeless families. In view of HUD’s requirements for matching funds, Gerry encourages agencies interested in starting programs to begin planning now, and especially to start thinking about potential match and leverage sources.


We checked in on how the VI-SPDAT was going in its current practice. Friends of the Homeless did not have raw numbers immediately available but reported that they are using the VI-SPDAT and in general the scores are reflecting the perceived vulnerability of the individuals.

FOH is doing an amazing job of integrating the VI-SPDAT in their shelter. A big shout out to all the staff for their hard work on this!

Jerry Ray of MHA reported that they are beginning to use VI-SPDAT when units turn over. He noted that the information on the VI-SPDAT is somewhat limited to the extent it relies on the reporting by the client, as opposed to information from providers who have engaged with the client (the latter has tended to provide better quality information).

Working with Springfield Housing Authority on the VI-SPDAT is in process. Gerry suggests that we focus on other implementation points and learning more before focusing on implementation by SHA (in view of its size and what is involved in changing policies and approaches at SHA). At this point, when an individual comes to the top of the SHA list and SHA contacts Lizzy Ortiz (City of Springfield), Lizzy in turn can contact Bill of FOH to obtain a copy of the completed VI-SPDAT, provided there is a signed consent for release of information. We need to connect the VI-SPDAT dots with SHA over time (but they are not CoC funded so cannot require them to do so – therefore need to move more slowly).

Kate Miernecki of ServiceNet reported that ServiceNet has begun piloting VI-SPDAT as of 12/1.

Gerry reported that DHCD has decided to do a pilot of VI-SPDAT for homeless families in Western Mass. Excellent progress!

Zero 2016 campaign

Hampden County CoC was selected as 1 of 67 CoCs (out of 500 nationwide) to be included in the Zero 2016 campaign which seeks to end veteran homelessness by 2015 and chronic homelessness by 2016. This is the next phase of the 100,000 Homes Campaign.

The Campaign application required commitments from the CoC, the City of Springfield, Springfield Housing Authority and the VA to work collaboratively on this project.

The goal is to create a structure that quickly moves people out of homelessness into homes. The campaign creates “take down targets” – determining who is homeless now and the rate new people become homeless to arrive at the rate at which we need to house these individuals to end homelessness; how many people do we need to house per month, what’s the housing gap to meet that need, how do we close that gap?

The model includes creating a registry of people who are homeless and prioritizing them by level of need, and using the prioritized list to decide who will be housed next.

The campaign is creating a web-based tool that builds off of a tool used in the 100,000 Homes campaign that is based on prioritization. It assumes “housing navigators” are available to work with homeless individuals and are drawing off their VI-SPDAT scores and all the data therein to move them into housing.

The campaign promises extensive technical assistance and has already seen great success in other communities. The campaign’s introductory call with our CoC is next week. Anyone is welcome to join, to register and access the call-in information go to

Steve Connor (Veterans Services) pointed out the problem of housing veterans with HUD-VASH vouchers who need extensive support services but do not have them so end up with tenancy problems within a short time. We need to make sure these veterans get into project-based PSH where services are on site. However, because they are difficult to serve, the project-based housing providers often screen them out.

The bottom line is that it is hard to serve the hardest-to-serve people and this campaign is about taking concrete steps (including use of the VI-SPDAT and system-wide prioritization) and solidifying an approach that cuts through that barrier and serves them.

We discussed the fact that there is a strong push to use Medicaid coverage to provide housing support services, but noted that this approach has challenges. It may work best for a supportive housing provider that has capacity to bill Medicaid, because the agency can then bill for services it would otherwise be providing. The experience with stand-alone Medicaid-reimbursable housing support providers is that they do not seem to have experience with the issues that arise with chronically homeless people entering housing, so they are not always responsive in a crisis or for after-hours need. They don’t have the same built-in level of accountability to the client as housing providers.

Discussion of Campaign TA priorities:

The Campaign is asking the CoC to choose its TA priority among 4 possibilities:

  • Adoption of best practices – housing first, registry
  • Use of data and performance management for real time improvement
  • Systems design and coordination
  • Local leadership development and team dynamics

We agreed on some combination of 1 and 3 – the development of a registry and systems design to focus on prioritization of access to housing. Gerry will report our response on this question.

The Zero 2016 campaign has already built-in 4 one-hour long training sessions around the registry. We will be expected to incorporate the registry work during the PIT count. There will be a training offered around the registry and all are welcome to join. Gerry plans to join the training phone call and others are welcome/encouraged to do so as well. Register for the calls by going to

Shelter Updates

ServiceNet: cot shelter opened 11/1, 19 people. Higher than usual (usually 10-13). As of last night, full. Opening Easthampton annex on 11/18.   3 from Springfield, 2 Holyoke, 2 West Springfield, the rest from Northampton. 5 new individuals; the remainder “returning customers.”

Friends of the Homeless: based on a quick scan of where people are coming from:  15-18% from out of state (that is a constant). 75% are from Springfield Hampden County – and an additional 15% have ties to the area. In terms of the current count: October comparable to 2 years ago – 153 a night, high of 165. Good news: Housing 15-18 a month. Diverted 27 this month.   Had a recent discharge planning meeting with area hospitals, which went well.

Craig’s Place – shelter opened 11/1 – about 10 people the first night which is high.   Had 15 last couple of nights. Most are returning guests; 4 new faces. 2 women so far (a consistent ratio based on last year).

Jay offered that Worcester conducted a count of its unsheltered population. 49 individuals identified. This is high as the number is usually around 30.

Next meeting date: December 4, 2014, 10:30-noon, Northampton

We briefly discussed the issue of the impact of alternating meeting sites between Northampton and Springfield and the risk of the meetings becoming geographically based by county/CoC. We agreed that we would track this and its impact and take stock over the next couple of months. In view of the coming PIT count, we probably need a region-wide monthly meeting to further the work, i.e., everybody come to December’s meeting in Northampton!

«   »

Return to full list of blog posts.