Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes
October 23, 2015
In attendance: Beth Barbra, Veterans Inc, Ben Cluff, DPH, Steve Connor, Christine Dunn, VA, Veterans Services, Dave Harte, Soldier On, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Katherine Person, Veterans Inc., Pamela Schwartz, Network, Dom Sondrini, Soldier On, Kate Sweetzer Owens, VA, Susan White, VA, Sabrina Willard, SSVF – Springfield Partners
Hampden County CoC Veteran Update (Gerry McCafferty):
Gerry reported on the progress being made through Hampden County’s by-name list; checking HMIS 2x/month to determine if there are veterans in the system. Right now there is one veteran at Friends of the Homeless. Data shows that most veterans come in for 1 or 2 days at a time.
An exciting outreach effort has taken place with the Springfield Police Dept. and other partners – mental health, substance abuse, outreach workers – to identify the homeless street population and create avenues for intervention. The Police Dept. created a by-name list of 20 people living on the street. The tool SQUARES – Veterans Status Query and Response Exchange System – has also provided assistance in identifying veterans (CoCs register to use it). With the use of SQUARES, 2 of the PD’s list were identified as veterans. One has been referred to the VA and efforts are ongoing to reach the other. To learn more about SQUARES, go here.
This coordination is an excellent advance (encouraging that Eliot Homeless Services and Health Care for the Homeless knew 80% of the PD’s identified individuals). Next up is making that happen in other Hampden County cities, including Holyoke, Chicopee and Westfield. The next outreach focus will be in Holyoke with Jim Mahoney of Veterans Services.
In sum: right now there are 3 homeless veterans identified in Springfield right now, none of whom are chronically homeless. Technically, Springfield has reached the definition of reaching “functional zero” on ending veteran homelessness. The CoC is also keeping track of the veterans who have been in shelter and are now out.
Request from HUD/VA for CoC information:
HUD has asked for each CoC to give detailed reports on veteran statistics for Oct through Dec. and to answer a specific collection of questions . Click here and here for additional information on the request. This information goes to demonstrating whether or not the community has reached functional zero as defined by US ICH.
Steve Connor said that the Three County CoC is working on this with Soldier On and Turners House; that Soldier On is developing a by-name list.
We discussed Soldier On’s direction of ending GPD beds as their new permanent housing beds come on line (46 beds about to open up in Leeds). Right now there is no waiting list and capacity is below 100%.
Zero 2016 Campaign Update:
Hampden County is a member of this campaign. It measures ending homelessness differently than US ICH, looking at the number of homeless veterans over time (using Point in Time count) and estimating how many will likely enter the system based on that history. Under that analysis, Hampden County committed to housing 100 veterans by the end of December, and it is on track for reaching that goal.
We also discussed the role of prevention as the number of homeless veterans declines. HUD/VASH vouchers and SSVF are both tools for prevention if a veteran is couch surfing or at imminent risk of homelessness.
We agreed that by every measure Hampden County appears qualified for receiving the designation of ending veteran homelessness. We discussed whether we should apply for that designation and agreed that we would look at October and November results before doing so; that we had more outreach to do with the street population in Holyoke and Westfield. And we also agreed on the excellent work that has taken place this past year to make reaching this goal possible; that systems and communication have increased to the point where veterans are being quickly identified and served.
DHCD subsidies for veterans
We noted DHCD’s request for a list of veterans who are not VA-eligible who they could serve with MRVPs. This is a great opportunity to reach more veterans (just need to make sure services are included).
Springfield Partners hosts a free veterans luncheon every Tuesday at 11 am.
November 20, 9 am – 10:30 am
Northampton Senior Center (to be confirmed)
(Pamela will confirm Tom Plichik of New Lease Program to speak then.)