Individual Services Committee
June 5, 2014

In attendance: Dave Christopolis, Hilltown CDC, Hwei-Ling Greeney, Amherst Community Connection, Nichole King, Friends of the Homeless, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS – Homeless Services, Samantha Lambert, Friends of the Homeless, Courtenay Loiselle, Money Follows the Person Strategic Housing Partnership, Jennifer Lucca, Samaritan Inn, Patty McDonnell, SMOC, Dave Modzelewski, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Kevin Noon, Craig’s Doors, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Jerry Ray, Mental Health Association, Laura Saponare, Catholic Charities, Joe Schroeter, Eliot CHS, Pamela Schwartz , Network, Betsy Shally-Jensen, A Positive Place – CDH, Rachel Taylor-Doward, ServiceNet, Rebekah Wilder, Craig’s Doors, Delphne Wray, Friends of the Homeless

Coordinated Intake Discussion Continued

Pamela provided an update on the online Housing Options Tool due to be initially launched by 7/1.  Andrea Miller (the tool creator) provided a sneak preview to Pamela and she reported that it is AMAZING and will clearly provide the foundation for our region’s coordinated assessment process.

Towards that end, today’s meeting focus was to review the pre-screening and application forms that will accessed through HOT and eventually used across all programs in the region.

Feedback on REACH and Initial Screening Forms currently in use:

(Note: Pamela accidentally provided an old REACH form as the basis for review so the group improvised on a more general conceptual level.)

Comments/suggestions included:

  • Prescreen form should include the question: “Have you ever served in the military?”
  • Prescreen form should include the question: “Do you have health insurance and if so, what?”
  • Note that “Contact Person” asked for on form could be a person other than the one from the referring agency (or there could be an additional contact person from outside the agency), so perhaps there should be an additional line there confirming the contact person’s agency and related information.
  • We should ask primary language/ethnicity/race on the pre-screening form as well.
  • On “income” question, provide a space to note whether an application is pending, e.g., for SSI or other benefits.  It can be misleading to have to state “zero” income because there is no income at the moment when an application may be pending.
  • Integrate the pre-screening questions on REACH/Initial screening as the front part of VI-SPDAT so there is only one name, one document, one link that covers the “pre-screen” process.
  • Must integrate the release form in this document for both local providers and to input data into the HMIS system – if the release is made general enough it  can cover both bases.
  • Discussion of access to HOT:  can anyone get to tool and complete forms?  Overall consensus that this would be hazardous to the administration of the system (at least to start); that while consumer empowerment is an important goal, we need to make sure the system is working among providers; that we don’t want to risk “jamming” up the system with inaccurate information if users are not sufficiently educated about the tool.  Instead, recommended that consumers have access to a page of HOT that informs them of this resource and directs them to an appropriate agency contact to learn more and to get help.
  • Question of “who will be getting these referrals once they are complete?”  Where are they going to?  Is it essentially an online version of REACH and would Dave M be vetting referrals via some entry point?  More to understand (or develop) there.
  • Overall agreement that we should launch the system incrementally; test it out with targeted providers, work out bugs, grow use from there.
  • Noted that the most important features to make HOT workable as a referral system are the vacancy and wait list tracking.  The utility of HOT depends on the buy-in of providers to enlist these features!
  • After discussion, agreed that the completion of the VI-SPDAT for ALL people entering the front door is relevant (and sometimes required) in order to ascertain whether the individual is suitable for “lesser” interventions as well, e.g., rapid re-housing and in recognition that there will be plenty of individuals who may not qualify as “chronically homeless” but rank high on the vulnerability index.

Next step on pre-screening:  Jay, Dave M, Jerry Ray will meet with Andrea ASAP to talk through these questions in more depth and make decisions!

On Universal Application:

  • Change “US military veteran” to “Have you served in the military?” (Note: is it possible to make changes if questions are dictated by HUD? Or do we need to go up the HUD chain with proposals for changes?)
  • Noted that this application mirrors HMIS requirements so our flexibility is presumably limited. Acknowledged the compliance forms mandated by HUD and how useful it will be to have them all in one place.
  • Noted that in terms of avoiding redundant interviews of client, it would be ideal if answers to identical questions on the VI-SPDAT could be “auto-filled” on the universal application.  Wishful thinking for some day!


Special Guest Presentation on Money Follows the Person (MFP) Program by Courtenay Loiselle, coordinator of the MFP Strategic Housing Partnership

Courtenay visited from Boston to inform us of this resource:

MFP is a federal demonstration projects that assists elders and people with disabilities who want to move from facility-based care to the community.  MFP provides an array of services, including case management and transitional-assistance services.  5 year project with a goal of transitioning 2,192 people over that time period.

Eligibility criteria includes currently living in a nursing or other facility, be 18 years or older, be a MassHealth member.

Roughly two-thirds of participants having housing; the other third must engage in housing search.  Most people have SSI or SS for income so the challenge includes finding available subsidized housing in a relatively short time (once an individual is deemed qualified for MFP, the goal is to have him/her move out of the facility within 180 days).

The program funds two housing search coordinators statewide but unfortunately Western Mass. Is not one of the regions covered.  However, there are transition coordinators (here in Western Mass. the contracts are with Stavros and Adlib) who provide assistance.

Available housing resources include first month’s rent and security deposit, as well as furniture and household goods.

Since MFP began in 2011, close to 700 individuals have been transitioned back into homes.

For more information or to pursue referrals for individuals, contact: Courtenay Loiselle at 617-204-3727 or [email protected]

Next meeting:

Thursday, July 3
Friends of the Homeless
755 Worthington Street

Note:  Pamela will be on leave for July and August, but Gerry McCafferty will continue to facilitate the individual services meeting.  Thank you, Gerry!

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