Individual Services Committee Meeting Minutes
November 5, 2015

In attendance: Beth Barbra, Veterans Inc., Darlene Ducott, Forum House, Courtnee Godbolt, Friends of the Homeless, Hwei-Ling Greeney, Amherst Community Connections, Nichole King, Friends of the Homeless, Charles Knight, former consumer, Todd Koniezhny, HRU/Lighthouse, Emily Kopler, Catholic Charities, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, David McClosky, Open Pantry, Dave Modzelewski, Network, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Erin Pike, Amherst Community Connections, Anna Quan, Amherst Community Connections, Jerry Ray, Mental Health Association, Denise Rivera, Friends of the Homeless, Tom Ray, Friends of the Homeless, Laura Saponare, Catholic Charities, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Sarah Tanner, Friends of the Homeless, Rachel Weiss, Craig’s Doors, Rebekah Wilder, Craig’s Doors, Delphine Wray, Friends of the Homeless

Zero 2016 Campaign Update:

Gerry McCafferty distributed a hand-out capturing Hampden County’s progress (see attached).   A shared congratulations in housing chronically homeless individuals. Right now roughly 18-19 chronically homeless individuals are identified as chronically homeless.

As the numbers decline, Gerry is regularly running reports to see who is newly becoming chronically homeless while using a by-name list as the vehicle for housing all CH individuals as quickly as possible.   Over the coming months, Hampden County will be able to track how many people have become homeless over the course of a month, who they are and their priority level and needs for housing.

Report on police/hospital coordination

This coordinated effort continues between Springfield housing department and the police department and health care providers. The police have created a by-name list of 18-20 individuals – almost all of whom were known already by providers – and the goal is to build partnerships to allow for quick and appropriate assistance when housing is the issue and not police enforcement (and visa versa).

Gerry will also reach out to the Sheriff Dept. to include them around this table (the Sheriff’s office dropped someone off at FOH immediately after release from jail the other day).

The goal is to build similar partnerships in other large Hampden communities such as Holyoke and Westfield and Chicopee.

Critical Response Team – Jay Levy and Dave Modzelewski provided an update on the increase in overall system coordination among state agencies to provide appropriate, “cross-silo” assistance for the hardest-to-serve individuals. Identification and development of strategies occur in REACH meetings. Cross-agency collaboration has produced significant results in housing people who have not been housed for many years.

Three County CoC Update: Dave Christopolis was unable to attend this meeting but asked to relay that its board met last week and will be releasing shortly its ranking of projects for the CoC application (due 11/20). It will also be retaining a consultant under the Network’s Opening Doors Plan project to assist the CoC in developing its performance measures and outcomes for each committee.

Hampden County CoC Update: Gerry released the committee decisions around funding applications yesterday (can find it on Network website). Funding decisions include: All existing projects were renewed; 2 new projects were funded, one is funding Friends of the Homeless to create a coordinated assessment project for Hampden County (Janice Humason will be leading up the project); the other is Gandara Center to fund rapid rehousing for youth 18-24 years old. The CoC did not get applicants for all of its bonus funds (a function of capacity issues, needing a 25% match, etc.) so the CoC has notified existing providers to see if they have capacity to expand an existing program. Any interested providers must contact Gerry ASAP.

Mental Health Association did not seek renewed funding for 2 Safe Havens projects due to the inter-relationship with DMH funding which was no longer available to pay for program costs. They are working on a way to reuse the properties for the same population – at risk is the loss of 11 permanent supportive housing units. At the same time, DMH has committed to create 7 new Safe Haven units and will be putting this out to bid.

The City is also looking for a new provider to operate two small Shelter Plus Care grants (for a total of 8 units; the previous sponsor chose not to renew). The grant is for rental assistance only; providers must come to the application with supportive services in tow. Please contact Gerry ASAP if interested.

Shelter updates:

Craig’s Doors – seasonal shelter just opened on 11/1; 20 people first night; at capacity every night since. The increase in the number of guests over 50 years old is notable (6 the first night). Mostly repeat guests.

Friends of the Homeless: There has been increased demand since August, although numbers went down at the end of last month. FOH is housing at least 5 chronically homeless people a month; FOH has housed 137 individuals to date this year.

Amherst Housing Authority Update: Hwei-Ling Greeney provided an update on a meeting convened by the Network (Pamela) with Hwei-Ling, Jay Levy and Dave Modzelewski to discuss ways to increase housing for chronically homeless individuals. We learned the exciting news that Amherst will be receiving 20 new AHVP vouchers (Alternative Housing Voucher Program for disabled individuals). We agreed on the significance of obtaining a homelessness priority for these vouchers. Denise LeDuc, executive director of the housing authority, said she would inquire and Pamela will inquire directly of Rose Evans as well.

Gerry noted that the CoC application this year includes the request for data from area housing authorities on how many homeless people they have served (Springfield 13-14%; Westfield 0; West Springfield 0, Holyoke 1%; Chicopee a few). HUD is asking this to give communities leverage around working with housing authorities on serving the homeless population.

Strategic Planning re: Committee Workplan development

Pamela introduced this agenda item as a continuation of the implementation of the Western MA Opening Doors Plan; that is, the development of a workplan to reach our goals in ending homelessness. The over-arching goal of creating the path to end all homelessness suggests the transformation of a system so that in the face of homelessness, we offer early assessment, early intervention and rapid rehousing or permanent supportive housing, depending on the need.

Committee brainstorm:

  • Share Opening Doors Plan with municipalities so they are more aware and become more active partners across the region;
  • Develop more awareness of prevention efforts, e.g., Tenancy Preservation Project
  • Develop more active relationships with housing authorities (Springfield Housing Authority is a great example of such a development)
  • Build relationships with town planning commissions, e.g., in Amherst right now there is not a way in for builders to build affordable housing; how do we also build stronger relationships with detox and crisis centers.
  • Cultivate relationships with private landlords to make them more active partners; meet with rental associations
  • Create more access to resources that would pay for one-time expenses such as first, last and security deposit (Gerry noted that CoCs can now do this; something to think about for the next funding round).

Training Needs Brainstorm

Pamela noted that the Network this year has the opportunity to provide trainings to the region. The Steering Committee will be making the decisions subject to committee input. The committee brainstorm included:

  • Critical time intervention training
  • Trauma informed training
  • Mental Health “101”
  • Harm reduction training
  • Motivational Interviewing (AdCare, John Brelsford)
  • Mass Health dollars: how to access them for support services
  • Public housing advocacy: how to advocate for your client; how to appeal

Next meeting: Thursday, December 3, 9:30-11 am, Northampton Senior Center

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