Individual Services Committee
October 8, 2015
In attendance: Elizabeth Bienz, ServiceNet, Matt Castleman, SMOC, Steve Connor, Veterans Services, Dawn DiStefano, YWCA of Western Mass., Erin Forbush, ServiceNet, Jen Glover, Franklin Home Care Corporation, Margaret Jordan, HRU, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS Homeless Services, Patty McDonnell, SMOC, Dave Modzelewski, Network, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Erin Pike, Amherst Community Connections, Anna Quan, Amherst Community Connections, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Doughlas Vitagliano, Amherst Community Connections, Rachel Weiss, Craig’s Doors, Rebekah Wilder, Craig’s Doors
Three County CoC Update: (Dave Christopolis had a work emergency so was unable to attend; meeting attendees provided misc. updates on the HUD funding application process):
Steve Connor shared how the veterans sub-group worked on language for the application and how it will aim for reaching the goal of ending veteran homelessness by the end of 2015. The 3 County CoC will join Hampden County in producing a by-name list and meeting monthly to go down that list. Soldier On has launched the process of moving away from their transitional housing GPD beds – some emergency beds will be maintained for a post incarceration program. Soldier on is opening up 94 new permanent housing units between Northampton and Chicopee and another 50 are in the building phase in Agawam – these units will be used to move veterans out of transitional housing into permanent units. Jay noted that it will be interesting to see what happens once the GPD beds are gone, e.g., whether we will see more veterans in emergency shelter or whether we will simply see less of a flow of out of state veterans into the Pioneer Valley.
Jay Levy shared that he supported the HUD application with a written piece on the tri-county outreach team and its strong collaboration via the Network and REACH meetings to intervene and provide vulnerability assessments for chronically homeless and veterans.
Critical Response Team Update: Jay and Dave provided a report on the meeting with the Springfield Police Department (organized by Gerry McCafferty) with a number of resource/outreach organizations that focused on targeting most at-risk homeless people and coordinating interventions to provide the most appropriate response (that frequently is not about criminal activity but critical need). The police department is developing a list of most at-risk people and creating a liaison role with the City Housing Department to facilitate rapid interventions and possible utilization of the CRT (cross-agency collaboration to cut through barriers to appropriate housing and services). They will continue this discussion at the next Hampden County REACH Meeting: 10/20 in Springfield, at2 pm, CRT meeting to follow at 3 pm at Friends of the Homeless.
Housing Authority Outreach Update:
Our current discussion focused on if/how to encourage other housing authorities to set aside or create Section 8 project based units to house chronically homeless individuals. Springfield Housing Authority provides a model program along these lines. We agreed as a committee that we would like to see this effort adopted among other housing authorities in the region. Because Amherst Community Connections had already been reaching out to Amherst Housing Authority, the Network agreed to provide support to their conversation. Anna Quan of Amherst Community Connections provide an update; she is meeting with the program director next week. The ED has not yet gotten back to her on the next round of conversation. We agreed Anna would write her and copy Pamela so that Pamela could help continue the dialogue. Meanwhile, we also agreed to reach out to Franklin County Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority as they are hiring a new ED in the next few weeks. There could be a great opportunity there. It was also suggested to engage Greenfield Housing Authority in this conversation as well.
To Do’s: Pamela will follow-up with Amherst HA after outreach is made; and will reach out to FRHRA once new hire occurs.
Mortality rates among chronically homeless in housing:
This topic was raised at our last meeting and Matt Simmonds of Simtech Solutions generously followed-up on it, engaging Dr. Jim O’Connell, head of Boston Health Care for the Homeless and leading researcher on this issue. Matt convened a conference call that included Jim and Network partners Bill Miller, Jay Levy and Pamela Schwartz. All agreed it is useful to explore the data around this issue, making the distinctions between “sudden death” – suicide or overdose – as distinct from death due to chronic health issues. It was agreed that it would also be useful to look at any data around varying health outcomes based on supportive vs. independent housing. It was also noted that once housed, some individuals’ health issues are actually discovered and then treatment costs are more expensive only because they are finally being treated. It was noted that the more we house extremely vulnerable people, the more likely we may see more deaths. Pamela will follow-up with Matt to clarify any next steps and will keep the committee informed.
It was also noted that Baystate Medical Center received a grant to assist with transitions from its facility into other care facilities, e.g, assisted living, nursing homes, types of transitional housing. CSO will be involved and the grant will cover both Springfield and Franklin County areas. We will stay informed of that as well.
Pittsfield shelter (Erin Forbush): the numbers being served are at “winter number levels” which is concerning. Discussion continues with Soldier On to gain their assistance with providing 10 additional beds over the winter season. The status is currently uncertain as Soldier On is unclear about its capacity to administer these beds.
Craig’s Doors – Shelter opens on 11/1 with 22 beds.
Greenfield Wells Center: has a few beds available, capacity for 20.
SMOC reported on a few openings. Contact Patty McDonnell for more information.
Franklin Regional has teen supportive housing for chronically homeless youth ages 18-24 years old, a joint project of Dial/SELF and Franklin Regional Housing
Jen Glover of Franklin County Home Care reported that it is applying for $10K in grants for elders, seriously ill, disabled and DV victims to care for and keep pets.
Amherst Community Connections produced a card that summarizes locations for free meals and shelters and the existence of a community wide emergency fund
Next meeting and future meeting times:
November 5, 10:30 – noon, Friends of the Homeless, Springfield
For the Northampton meeting, to accommodate people who live in the Pioneer Valley but work in Hampden County, we agreed to move the meeting time to 9:30 am to 11 am for future meetings.