Individual Services Committee Meeting
June 16, 2015

In attendance: Peg Keller, City of Northampton, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Northampton, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Rachel Weiss, Craig’s Doors, Rebekah Wilder, Craig’s Doors, Lynn White, Next Step, Chris Zabik, DMH

 Draft Western MA Opening Doors Plan to End Homelessness (click here)

 Feedback and discussion:

Chris Zabik: Plan offers a great overview of the landscape around what is happening and being done to combat homelessness.


  • Clarify some graph labeling (more detail provided in a separate email)
  • Requested more discussion of employment as a strategy to combat homelessness; felt this could use more attention in the Plan

Jay Levy: Plan reads clearly. Feedback:

  • #s on homeless youth did not add up (how 0 in Three County CoC) – Pamela will follow-up on that.
  • Specifically address elder homelessness. Understands this is not a population that HUD has prioritized but believes it deserves our specific attention with action steps.
  • Specifically address short-term homelessness among highly vulnerable populations, e.g., severe mental illness. If not chronically homeless but suffers from major disability, we need to focus some resources on this population.
  • Incorporate into the Plan the Network’s Work Group to House People with Sex Offense Histories – no mention anywhere and it is ongoing work of the Network. Should include our goals and action steps.
  • Question re: the definition of “functional zero” – while understanding that it means housing new homeless within 30 days (i.e., our supply can meet the demand), there is no mention in that definition of housing the CURRENTLY homeless. Pamela presumed that was implicit but will confirm and clarify.


Peg Keller: Plan has good format, clear and clean. The right length (not too long!). Feedback:

  • 6 – Outreach and Engagement – first thought was that it failed to include a sufficient breakdown of the providers in our region (e.g., missing Eliot Services), but after further discussion among the group, we agreed that this section was intentionally designed to be “big picture” and to go “smaller” with a list of providers would potentially distract and then trigger the question of “who should get included.” We are good with what is!
  • Strategies sections in general seem a little weak. Pamela acknowledged that this is partially a function of the delayed timing and that we will continue to flesh out content for the strategies as the Plan unfolds (post 7/1).
  • Peg also noted the “accountability” description where it states that the Committees are accountable to the Network and the CoCs. We need to get more clear about the relationship between the entities – committees, Network, CoCs – in order to create buy-in all around and ensure the accountability chain has meaning.

Other misc. items:

  • Individual homelessness chart – double check numbers as they don’t appear to add up
  • 21 first bullet – correct typo of “veteran” to read “chronically homeless”

    Brainstormed additional strategies for chronic homelessness:

  • Adopt prioritizing criteria so that we are prioritizing housing for most vulnerable chronically homeless individuals (whether it’s VI-SPDAT or some other tool)
  • Implement triage system that includes diversion and rapid-rehousing for individuals
  • Utilize Tenancy Preservation Project (TPP) to prevent homelessness
  • Utilize Critical Response Team (CRT) for most vulnerable, hardest-to-house individuals in order to broaden eligibility criteria for certain state level of services (ameliorate state system silos)

Pamela brought Hwei-Ling Greeney’s feedback around the Vision Statement on p.5 failing to specifically mention individual homelessness (as opposed to exclusively chronic homelessness). The group acknowledged the explicit miss but believed that on balance since we are aiming to align with the federal plan and the goal of “setting a path to end all types of homelessness” includes individuals, the combination of presentation, grammatical flow and content makes it acceptable .

Feedback is continually welcome. A version of a final plan will be issued by 6/30 to meet the contract deliverable but the Plan’s evolution on some level will never end!

Next meeting: Thurs., 7/9, 10:30-noon, Northampton Senior Center

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