Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes
Attendees: Beth Barbra, Veterans Inc, Dave Christopolis, Hilltown CDC, Ben Cluff, Mass DPH, Steve Connor, Northampton Veteran Services, Gregory Dabney, Adj. Placement, Anthony DiStefano, Western MA Hospital, Kate Sweetster Divens, VA Springfield HUD VASH, Bryan Doe, Springfield Vet Center, Andy Fahey, VA Springfield HUD/VASH, Lisa Goldsmith, Dial/SELF, Scott Haskell, Turners House, Dennis Konadu, HUD VASH, Valenda Liptak, Western MA Hospital, Luz Marcano, HUD/VASH, Jim Mahoney, Holyoke Veteran Services, Katherine Person, Veterans Inc., Jerry Ray, Mental Health Association, Pamela Schwartz, Network director, Todd Simon, Bosco Properties, Dom Sondrini, Soldier On, Kerry Spitzer, MIT, Susan White, Veterans Admin Medical Center, Sabrina Willard, Springfield Partners,
Point in Time Count, January 2015: (click here)
Gerry McCafferty presented on the PIT for both CoC’s:
A total of 255 veterans were counted. None were living outside. Of these persons, 47 were living in emergency shelter and 206 were living in transitional housing.
Number of homeless veterans decreased by 21.5% compared to last year. Veteran individuals without children declined by 19.%, all of this decline was in the 3-County CoC.
Demographics of veterans are 95% male, majority are white and non-hispanic. Opposite of typical homeless person in population as a whole: child who is latina (this reflects the large homeless family population)
There was discussion around the counting of homeless veterans in relation to transitional housing (grant per diem beds). While we participate in the national conversation around how to reduce the length of stay in GPD housing (HUD/VASH has housed people in GPD beds 3 times over), we need to focus on the first priority of housing veterans who are living in shelter.
It was also noted that the number of veterans in transitional housing is actually going down, but that those who are there have more complex needs and harder to house quickly. It is also now a slightly younger population.
The group agreed that we can do a veteran homelessness count more than once a year since it is easier to ascertain the number through shelter and transitional housing count. We should also contrast this number with the numbers served through SSVF (to track the relationship between the SSVF resource and declining number of homeless veterans).
Gerry discussed the National Alliance to End Homelessness’ creation of a template for a registry of homeless individuals. Click here to review. Gerry is experimenting with a referral list from Friends of the Homeless to do a similar kind of targeting. Mercy Hospital volunteered their Compliance Officer to the task of a drafting a release form that will allow providers to talk to each other about the individual’s VI-SPDAT score and housing needs. Gerry has sent that list to the VA to see if that will work to enable this kind of data sharing.
The Three County CoC experiences the veteran homelessness challenge differently as Soldier On is the predominant provider in all respects – shelter, transitional housing and permanent housing. While some veterans are still missed on the street, Soldier On is really the central go-to resource. The focus there is on continued street outreach.
All agreed that the CoCs are the resource for filling in the gaps when veteran services miss, either as a referral source or as access to other housing if veteran is not VA eligible.
Zero 2016 Update
Gerry offered some context from the Zero 2016 campaign (click here for powerpoint).
The theory of change includes: improving housing placement performance, increasing capability of local leaders; building a creative, connected and committed movement, and getting to functional zero (when the number of new homeless each month is less than the number of monthly housing placements)
We need to develop our own Theory of Change – our AIM and our “Primary Drivers” for change.
Brainstorm: each committee member received “yellow stickies” to do a quick brainstorm of what our necessary “drivers” are for meeting the challenge of veteran homelessness (see attachment of list).
Quick discussion included:
- Improving triage in order to move people from emergency shelter into housing
- Speeding up issuance of HUD/VASH vouchers and lease-ups, inspections, etc. Consider bringing together VA, housing authorities and other providers to refine and streamline system
- Develop list of landlords who are more welcoming to veterans with “tougher” backgrounds
- Get release forms signed ASAP in order to speed up conversations re: housing
- Maximize incomes to get veterans into housing (don’t be caught by “must solve housing problem forever” before housing)
- Re: street outreach team: Gerry had connected with DMH about street outreach in Springfield; they agreed that it is needed and are looking at ways to shift resources so that it can take place.
Each CoC will meet as a sub-group to determine most appropriate next steps. Hampden County will bring together its veterans providers and Three County will do the same and have a meeting in Pittsfield.
Gerry will collate written brainstorm and will distribute and we will follow-up with further discussion at our next meeting. Click here for brainstorm notes.
Youth homeless veterans
Lisa Goldsmith from Dial/SELF (Franklin County based) shared her interest in learning more about the youth veteran population and if/how some collaboration is in order to provide more age appropriate services to this sub-population.
It was noted that we should be able to pull out the breakdown of homeless veterans by age. We will do that for the next meeting and carve out time to discuss further.
- Dom Sondrini wanted to flag that SSVF requires only ONE DAY of active duty to be eligible for services. It is the least restrictive eligibility criteria. Sue White will update the “veterans resources” one pager to flag this as well and Pamela will redistribute.
- Steve Connor announced DHCD and DVS are holding a meeting around ending veteran homelessness on May 18, 10 am – 1:30 pm at Veteran’s Inc in Shrewsbury and is looking for Western region representatives. It will include a presentation of new tools for housing vets. Contact Gordie Calkins at firstname.lastname@example.org with additional questions.
Next meeting: Friday, June 12, 9 am – 10:30 am, Northampton location to be confirmed.