Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes
December 18, 2015

 In attendance: Beth Barbra, Veterans Inc, Thomas Belton, Springfield Dept. of Veterans Services, Ben Cluff, Mass Dept. of Public Health, Steve Connor, Veterans Services, Brandi Gamble, Springfield Partners, Gumersindo Gomez, Bi-Lingual Veterans Outreach Center, Mike Hagmaier, Soldier On, Jim Mahoney, Holyoke Veteran Services, Melissa Mateus, Springfield Partners, Gerry McCafferty, Springfield Housing, Lizzy Ortiz, Springfield Housing, Katherin Person, Veterans Inc, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Dominick Sondrini, Soldier On, Kate Sweetster-Owens, VA Medical Center, Susan White, VA Medical Center, Sabrina Willard, Springfield Partners

New Veteran Supportive Housing Available:  Faith Williams of HAPHousing distributed application information for the Bi-Lingual Veterans Outreach Center’s 19 unit property on Cass Street in Springfield for supportive housing for veterans. The application period is 12/7-2/5; a lottery will be held on 2/12/16. HAP is administering the marketing and application process.

A tour for all interested committee members will take place on: Wednesday, January 6 at 12 noon at the property address. Please contact Faith Williams at [email protected] or Gumersindo Gomez at [email protected] for additional information and see the application attached.

By-name list update:

Hampden County: Gerry is continuing to use the SQUARES tool to screen individuals on the street for veteran status (and referring to VA if found). Right now the by-name list includes 10 active veterans, 3 of whom are entering housing (2 via CoC housing, 1 via HUD/VASH) and 3 of whom have housing plans. 3 are still needing to be screened, 4 are not VA eligible and 6 are in uncertain locations (may not still be in the area).

Greater outreach to the Rescue Mission to identify veterans sleeping there is on the to-do list.

Jim Mahoney of Holyoke Veterans Services is reaching out to the Holyoke Police Dept. to get a better sense of the street population there.

The biggest challenge remains serving those individuals who are not chronically homeless or VA health eligible.

Outreach is also needed in Westfield and Chicopee.

Three County: Mike Hagmaier provided an update on the Three County’s meeting with TAC (Technical Assistance Collaborative) which is providing assistance on developing a plan to end veteran homelessness in their sub-region.   They have identified 15 homeless veterans outside of Soldier On.   Andrea Miller, the 3 County data consultant, will keep the by-name list (she already has access to the related data).

Sue White pointed out that they must connect the dots between that list and the people coming into the VA directly (who would not be in HMIS). Sue will reach out to Andrea.

Road Map to Ending Veteran Homelessness

First, huge thanks to Gerry McCafferty for drafting this road map as a starting point for our veterans work plan. This document came out of our committee’s decision to summarize what we know and what we have done thus far in order to gain clarity on where we go next. Please click here to review.

Comments and feedback:

  • Need to focus on prevention – when veterans are first identified as at-risk, what we are doing to prevent homelessness?
  • Must confirm housing placement numbers are accurate (p.4)
  • Examine how to shorten the time between identification of homelessness and housing – where are the holes in our system that we need to close
  • Need to develop response system for people who “fail” VASH – where do they go from there?
  • Need to address elder veterans, VHA ineligible and chronically homeless veteran sub-populations
  • Need to connect dots between substance abuse systems and veterans

Gerry noted that Behavioral Health Network (BHN) has just agreed to serve as a liaison with the Springfield Police Dept. for interventions around homelessness. Very exciting potential; could serve as a pilot project.

Next meeting date: Friday, January 29, 8:30-9:30 am, Northampton Senior Center (to be confirmed), immediately prior to 10 am Three County veterans sub-committee meeting in Chesterfield.

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