Individual Services Meeting
May 8, 2014

In attendance: Deb Aloisi, Friends of the Homeless, Dave Christopolis, Three County CoC, Carl Cignoni, DOC Reentry Services/Hampshire House if Corrections, Danielle DeBerry, ServiceNet, Janice Humason, Friends of the Homeless, Jeffrey Langlois, providence Ministries, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS – Homeless Services, Jenifer Lucca, Samaratin Inn, Bill Miller, Friends of the Homeless, Dave Modzelewski, Network, Rebecca Muller, Grantworks, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Patricia McDonnell, SMOC, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Ramon Planas, Dept. of Elder Affairs, Laura Saponare, Catholic Charities, Joe Schroeter, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Betsy Shally-Jensen, CDH – A Positive Place

Coordinated intake and assessment update and process:

Gerry McCafferty provided an overview and summary of where this conversations stands:

There are 2 entry points for the coordinated assessment process:

(1)   The “front door,” i.e., before people enter shelter, assessing the individual to establish if diversion is possible

(2)   once in shelter, assessing the individual to determine the most suitable intervention to get the person housed. Based on Hampden County CoC data, 65% of the individuals who access shelter exit it within 30 days; the other 35% spend varying lengths of time, up to and over a year. This component of assessment is focused on this longer-stay population, which is the basis for this Network effort thus far.

Gerry spoke with Heidi Gold of DHCD to ensure that our work on coordinated assessment is complementary to state efforts. Gerry learned DHCD is primarily focused on the “front door” assessment piece to maximize diversion. Heidi encouraged us to continue work on our assessment piece with the promise of providing a model for other regions across the state.

The need for coordination and communication became especially clear in the last couple of weeks as several providers acknowledged the difficulty in filling Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) units with very targeted populations, e.g., chronically homeless person with HIV or having been involved with criminal justice system, etc. A coordinated assessment system could help us locate that person and match him/her to the opening.

Gerry distributed copies of the VI-SPDAT tool – Vulnerabilty Index – Service Prioritization Determination Assistance Tool.   You can find it by copying going here  

This tool is becoming popular across the country (used by the 100,000 Homes Campaign and many CoCs; the state of MI had adopted this tool) as a resource for determining whether a person needs rapid re-housing or PSH. It ensures that the valuable resource of PSH gets allocated to the people who need it most.

Many HMIS systems have incorporated this tool. Our state ETO system has not yet.

Gerry has proposed to pilot this tool in her COC and has done so in the current RFP for City ESG funds. Springfield will require grantees to use this tool. This will be a big experiment.

The proposal for broader CoC implementation is to start using the tool for PSH units only since there are not that many units (roughly 10-20 turnover units each year, not including the Springfield Housing Authority units), and it is a doable scale for launching. The goal would be both for referrers to and providers of PSH to use this screening tool for anyone being referred to PSH.

Gerry is working to bring in a trainer on this tool in July (in time to also assist new ESG grantees).   We think we have 10-20 turnover units each year. Have some vacancies now.

It was noted that asking some of the questions on the survey will require a rapport between the worker and the individual to be established.   This would be a good question to pose to others who have been implementing the tool, i.e., the timing, circumstance for best results from survey.

A major goal is to get ETO to incorporate this tool into HMIS. Need to figure out the funding for this. It would be ideal for the system to automatically score the individual based on the answers provided.

It was also noted that sometimes one standard is met – vulnerability – without the other – chronicity – which still leaves the most vulnerable ineligible for PSH. It is possible that we could aim to relax the standard of chronicity when we have housed the chronically homeless.

Scheduling the training: Gerry will aim for 7/17 or 7/24, a half or full-day, at Holyoke Community College. Stay tuned for confirmation.

We agreed it would be useful for housing providers/referrers to meet in more depth on this prior to the training, and that the REACH meetings are the places to have those meetings (since all are already in attendance).

The Springfield REACH meeting is Tuesday, 5/20, at 2 pm at Friends of the Homeless. Gerry will notify PSH providers and will attend to discuss this more. Gerry and Bill Miller will brainstorm appropriate meeting space (need for a bigger room!).

The Westfield and Hampshire/Franklin May meetings are next week – too soon for real notice – but Westfield providers will be invited to the Springfield meeting and Hampshire/Franklin will be apprised of this agenda for its June meeting when it meets next week.

Shelter Update

Danielle DeBerry reported that the Interfaith Winter Shelter closed its door on 5/1. 2 individuals moved into permanent housing. About 13 did not have housing established. Danielle noted the real connection between those individuals who used the services of the resource center – success in next steps – and those who did not – no success.   The individual’s willingness/capacity to engage is a defining difference.

Craig’s Doors, Amherst (Kevin Noonan sent regrets, could not attend due to competing Amherst town meeting he had to attend), but Kevin reported via email that approximately 14 individuals did not housing alternatives upon the closing of the seasonal shelter. Jay Levy reported an increase in the Amherst street population.

Friends of the Homeless, Bill Miller, reported that the numbers now are even or a bit higher than they were in January.   163 individuals at the shelter last night; 163 in January.

Taylor Street shelter in Springfield is not closing yet; it may stay open through May or longer.

Gerry noted that the Hampden County CoC individual PIT count number will be much higher this year because there were 36 pregnant women in the family shelter system, and with their partners, the number came to 54 individuals in the family system. A striking increase in this population.

Next meeting: 6/5, 10:30-noon, senior center

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