Veterans Meeting Minutes
March 7, 2014

In attendance:  Dave Christopolis, Hilltown CDC (Three County CoC), Ben Cluff, MA DPH, Steve Conner, Central/Hampshire Veteran Services, Michael Hagmaier, Soldier On, Ann Lentini, Domus, Inc., Valenda Liptak, Western MA Hospital, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield (Hampden County Coc), Patricia McDonnell, SMOC, Charly Oliva, Springfield Dept. of Veteran Services, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Jim Seney, VA, Susan White, VA Medical Center

Review of Point In Time Count Findings
General overview of general findings from PIT.  Click here to review.

View of veterans count.  Click here for view of total veterans count and here for veterans data on Hampden County only.

3 unsheltered veterans
34 veterans in emergency shelter
largest number of veterans in transitional housing:  250 (large factor is Soldier On housing)

In Springfield,  5 veteran families so far (still need to determine hotel population), made up of 19 people, all female heads of household.

In Hampden County, of all unsheltered individuals 53% were veterans (function of Soldier On presence).
For Three County, 8%.


Sue:  how many veterans were in community Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) vs. VA PSH?  Interested to know how many veterans are being served by the community as a whole as part of a gap analysis – the gap between the # of grant per diem (GPD) units (transitional housing) and permanent housing.     Our region has 250 emergency and transitional beds  and 400 admissions each year .  It is difficult to assess PIT progress  because of the huge resource here that may pull veterans to the area.

On street and emergency count (total 37), question is whether these individuals are local or from out of the area  and whether it is possible to focus on those 37 to do what it takes to get them housed.

How do we use VA resources to address local homelessness/chronic homelessness?

For chronically homeless veterans, if they go into GPD, they can still be considered chronically homeless for eligibility for HUD/VASH; BUT not so for HUD – if in transitional housing, cannot be considered chronic (due to targeting goals for most needy).

Sue: the VA is receiving a lot of referrals from families who are doubled up (not counted in PIT).   Need to follow-up with the shelter family system to make sure it is connecting to HUD/VASH.

35 HUD/VASH vouchers allocated to the region annually for the next 3 years;  makes sense to target families and chronically homeless.

VA, like HUD, moving away from transitional housing, into PSH.  (HUD pushing CoCs to convert transitional housing to PSH).  SSVF program is geared towards rehousing and prevention.

However, Mike Hagmaier  heard VA is coming out for more grant per diem transitional housing.

Dave Christopolis raised question of the process for landlords to connect with developers around being part of project based vouchers distribution.  Dave and Sue White will follow-up on this.

Gerry raised question of whether HUD/VASH vouchers can be used as some HUD subsidies have been used by larger housing authorities:  designate for the chronically homeless, after 1 year, tenant can take voucher somewhere else but there are new resources tied to the unit.  A continuing renewal of resources for homeless individuals.   This is currently not an option with VASH.

Must be VA Health eligible (based on discharge, time served) to get HUD/VASH and many veterans aren’t.  This eligibility requirement creates additional gaps.

SSVF new grant:  Soldier On is applying funds.  Current SSVF grant sub-contracted out to Springfield Partners.  Just hired 2nd case manager.  $757,000 for one year.  Applying for renewal.  Will serve 200 households in all 4 counties.   Assistance includes:  Maximum of 5 months rental assistance, one time security deposit, 2 months of utility, 1 time utility deposit, 3 months of child care, moving expenses.  Big issue with prevention is that they must have eviction notice or notice to quit in order to qualify for assistance.

30-40 admissions into the program so far.  Only utilized resources for 3-4 veterans from transitional housing.  One possible barrier: if they come into GPD – 234 transitional beds – they must enroll in SSVF within 30 days to get assistance and must find housing within 90 days.

Veterans Inc also has SSVF grant in region.

Steve Connor is co-chair of committee on prevention for State Veterans group and is trying to coordinate SSVF between Soldier On and Veterans Inc  (they have different criteria in their screening) and the intersection of VASH and Chapter 115 benefits.

For veterans receiving VASH, SSVF criteria is restrictive enough that it is better to go for Chapter 115 benefits for assistance with security deposit, etc.

Discussed lack of data on follow-up for program participants in SSVF.  Gerry noted that if we could get these recipients into the HMIS system, we could do a data analysis.  Agreed that we need to have follow-up conversation around this; that Gerry and Mike will talk.

Upcoming SSVF grant opportunity:
Our region got targeted because of the number of transitional beds (and the desire to reduce the use of them with permanent housing).  $3 million grant/$1 milllion for 3 years/non-renewable.

Soldier On is applying.  Will use funds to focus on Hampshire, Franklin and Berkshire Counties (and narrow focus of current SSVF grant to Hampden County only, administered by Springfield Partners)

Tenancy Preservation Project:  Ben Cluff working with Springfield TPP to spread word on SSVF.  Need Housing Specialists to know about this.  Ben working on collecting veteran data for TPP.

Review of Draft Resource List – click here for DRAFT version.

Thanks to Sue White for compiling first draft.

Discussed the appropriate lens for review:   how does a provider who doesn’t see many veterans direct them to the most appropriate resources.  This question ties in with the larger unified intake and assessment process underway in both CoC’s.  What is developed for the CoC’s should encompass veterans and be part of the coordinated assessment plan.

To Do’s:

  1.  Review and revise resource sheet based on today’s discussion..  Gerry and Sue will do it for next meeting.
  2. Prepare CoC coordinated assessment update for next meeting.
  3. Gerry and Mike will discuss data sharing.
  4. Sue and Gerry will follow-up with Jon Hite of Northampton Housing Authority re: data participation.
  5. Sue and Dave will follow-up on project based voucher access for landlords.
  6. Steve will provide an update on statewide Commission work at next meeting.
  7. Steve and Ben will connect on TPP coordination and outreach.

Discussed outreach for next meeting:

Mike H will invite Paul Bailey of Springfield Partners
Jim Seney will invite Veterans Inc

Next meeting:

April 4, 9 am, Northampton Senior Center

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