Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes
September 25, 2015

 In attendance: Beth Barbra, Veterans Inc, Steve Connor, Veteran Services, Scott Haskell, Turners House, Jim Mahoney, Holyoke Veterans Services, Melissa Mateus, Springfield Partners, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Kate Sweetster Owens, VA HUD VASH, Sue White, VAMC, Beth Ziemba, The Food Bank

Hampden County Update:

We discussed what it means to get to functional zero: having no more homeless than we can house within the month (roughly 6). We are getting close as we are housing 5-6 veterans every month. Great progress.   Click here for the related hand-out.

Gerry has identified roughly 14 homeless veterans who are going in and out of homelessness. She met with the Springfield Police yesterday, and they are offering their support in identifying homeless veterans (2 known homeless veterans suffer from chronic substance abuse – going to target outreach). All agreed that the challenge is to reach veterans before they enter shelter.

3 County CoC

An entirely different challenge with Soldier On and their GPD beds that are transitional housing.

The big challenge in this region is finding available units, especially for those veterans who have a drug or criminal history. There is regularly outreach to landlords to ask them to lower their monthly rent to meet payments standards for HUD VASH.

Steve shared their successful strategy of gaining releases from veteran tenants at Northampton Housing Authority so that NHA can reach out to Steve’s office to gain assistance if troubles with the tenancy arise. This has resulted in some successful interventions.

Gerry pointed out that the NOFA requires outreach to 5 housing authorities in the area to engage them around their efforts with the homeless population; looking for data around the number of homeless individuals they have housed.

Vet Expo on 10/1: It was agreed that the intake sheet should include the question around whether the veteran is homeless or stably housed. There will be follow-up on this.

Big picture goals:

The goal of “ending veteran homelessness” by the end of 2015 is about creating system change and being in a position to maintain that change. For the Point in Time Count in January, the goal is to see vets only in transitional housing; none in shelter or on the streets.

The group discussed the particular challenge of housing long term drinkers. There has been some strategy around using Section 35 but police say it is not a long term solution since it puts them back on the streets in 3 weeks’ time. Emergency rooms are looking at high utilizers of ER services and see this challenge emerge there as well. There was agreement to revisit the Critical Response Team with Dave Havens and Jay Levy – taking a focused look at 3-5 of the hardest to serve people and with multiple providers and state agencies around the table strategize an intervention plan.   The need for low and no threshold housing is critical.

Next meeting:
Friday, October 23
9:15 -10:30
Mental Health Association, Springfield


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