In attendance: Jay Levy, Eliot; Kerry Spitzer, MIT,; Beth Barbra,Vets Inc; Isabel Belen,Vets Inc; Sabrina Willard,Springfield Partners; Netshari Ortiz,Soldier On; Ben Cluff, MDPH; Steve Connor, Northampton Vets Services; Steve Como, Soldier On; Melissa Mateus, Springfield Partners; Susan White, VAMC
Update on Veteran Resource Sheet
*Ben Cluff notes that it is being used by the housing specialists in Springfield. Sue White shared that a VA staff member was recently handed the sheet by the Holyoke VSO. So it is evidently being used. No changes or updates suggested.
*Ben Cluff asks if the “script” given to family shelter providers was also distributed on the blog (it was not.) Discussion ensued and it was agreed that it would be useful to also distribute the script after a couple of revisions (change the SAVE/SHARP team number, remove HUD-VASH specific info) and after Isabel Belen translates it into Spanish. Sue White and Isabel Belen will communicate re: progress and forward finished product to Pamela Schwartz for distribution on the blog after her return.
State Commission to End Veteran Homelessness update:
Steve Connor who serves on Commission and chairs Prevention working group provided an update. The Commission is going to be offering two regional trainings in the fall, one in Boston and one in Western Mass, likely at the Soldiers Home (location and date not yet confirmed.) Four hour training with several topics: Update on the 5 year Statewide Plan, discussion with PHA and housing providers about how they can be helpful in the effort to end homelessness, discussion about how VSO’s and PHA’s can collaborate to prevent evictions, among others.
The target audience will be those who are less familiar with the Network’s activities and are not necessarily connected to the CoC, e.g. housing authority staff, housing providers. Steve is asking for assistance in building the invitation list and requests that people forward names/agencies that should be included. His e-mail: email@example.com
Steve shares that the Commission is beginning to pay closer attention to PIT data in Western Mass with an eye towards ensuring that all resources are being utilized in the best and most timely way. This led to discussion of a suggestion received by Sue White from Stephanie Harrington of the Boston HUD office that the Veterans Committee considers adding to the agenda regular discussion of identified homeless veterans in the area/problem-solving sticky cases. All present concluded that this is already done sufficiently at area REACH meetings and that, in fact, a nice integration of veteran providers has already been achieved at these meetings, making an additional veteran-specific meeting unnecessary.
Discussion then ensued about the launch of the centralized intake and how best to coordinate all of the procedures and data collection efforts of the CoC, Network, Statewide Commission, VA, Veterans Committee, etc. It is agreed that this is a large and complex effort requiring its own discussion; it will be put on the agenda for the next Veterans Committee meeting.
*The Vet Expo is happening on October 9 from 11-7:00 at the Mass Mutual center. This event is not specific to homeless veterans but rather will cover the full gamut of veteran resources.
*Jay Levy announces the Housing First Conference taking place on October 16. He notes that a representative for veteran issues/resources will need to be identified to be a participant on panels. It was agreed that we could decide on this by/at the next meeting.
*Ben Cluff announces a new SAMHSA grant that will provide for another three year round of the Access to Recovery program. He emphasizes that veteran status alone will make one eligible for the program. See attached flyer.
*Steve Como announces that The Blue Book is now available in both book and on-line form. This is the detailed resource book of veteran resources available in Western Massachusetts. (Link is forthcoming.)
*Beth Barbra of Vets Inc. introduces herself. She is the new Employment and Training Specialist for homeless or at-risk of homelessness individuals. Refer by phone (413-276-9311) or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. She notes that she is able to go to clients for meetings.
*Vets Inc. informs us that Prevention money for HUD-VASH (not non-HUD-VASH) clients has run out for this year. However, Rapid Rehousing funds are still available for HUD-VASH clients.
*Springfield Partners/Soldier On announces that there is a new case manager in training. Going forward, they will be putting more of an emphasis on case management in an effort to work with people on creating sustainability in their situations, e.g. providing assistance with ongoing budgeting rather than simply covering a past due utility bill (that soon becomes past due again.)
Next Meeting: August 29, 9-10:30 at the Northampton Senior Center