Individual Services Committee Meeting Minutes
January 7, 2015

In attendance: Jesus Arca, City of Springfield, Matt Castleman, SMOC, Steve Connor, Northampton Veterans Services, Jessica Daly, Amherst Community Connections, Chad Fuller, Craigs Doors, Tina Giarla, MA Coalition for the Homeless, Courtnee Godbolt, Friends of the Homeless, Hwei-Ling Greeney, Amherst Community Connections, Janice Humason, Friends of the Homeless, Margaret Jordan, Human Resources Unlimited, Nichole King, Friends of the Homeless, Charlie Knight, former consumer, Todd Koniezhny, Human Resources Unlimited, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Sara Lopes, Friends of the Homeless, Jim Mahoney, Holyoke Veterans Services, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Yesenia Mendez, Friends of the Homeless, Bill Miller, Friends of the Homeless, David Modzelewski, Network REACH, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Luz Ortiz, Friends of the Homeless, Tom Ray, Friends of the Homeless, Denise Rivera, Friends of the Homeless, Christina Ruest, Friends of the Homeless, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Ramon Solivan, Friends of the Homeless, Antonia Stewart, Friends of the Homeless, Rachel Weiss, Craigs Doors, Delphine Wray, Friends of the Homeless

 New Definition of Chronic Homelessness: HUD released new final rule on the definition of chronic homelessness effective as of 1/15/16. Central change: repeat homelessness must add up to a period of 12 months (over 4 or more times over a 3 year period). HUD is offering a webinar on 1/13, 1-2:30 pm. Go here to register:

Point in Time Count: Plans are underway across both CoCs for 1/27/16 PIT. Shelters and transitional housing will be pulled directly from HMIS. Dave Havens of MHA is organizing the street count in Springfield; Jay Levy of Eliot Services is organizing in 3 County. For shelters who do not participate in HMIS, volunteers will be going there directly to count, e.g., Rescue Mission in Springfield.

By Name List:

Hampden County: creation of list of chronically homeless people or people on the streets has been in process since last Sept. The CoC is working in collaboration with police and emergency rooms and outreach workers to help identify those on the streets. Outreach to Chicopee, Holyoke and Westfield is underway. Behavioral Health Network and Police Dept. are working together to identify people on street who need intervention (most recently resulted in 4 people being brought inside to BHN on a very cold day). Very exciting new outreach effort.

Three County: working towards creating a by-name list as part of its TA with Technical Assistance Collaborative. Meeting with TAC for first time on 1/14.

NEW State (EOHHS) RFR to establish consortiums to address homelessness

This RFR was just released on 12/28, responses due on 2/2. There will be 3-5 awards statewide (a total of $900,000) to support some combination of coordinated entry work and use of flexible funds to support diversion/prevention efforts at the front door. There is also a youth component that can only be sought in conjunction with the main application that can serve 18-24 year olds in a continuum of services/housing (the expenditure of the $2 million allocated to youth services in the FY16 budget).

Hampden County CoC will meet to discuss this on Monday 1/11, 2:30 pm at 70 Tapley Street, Springfield. Three County CoC will meet to discuss this on Tuesday 1/12, 1:30 pm at 287 Main Street, Chesterfield (Hilltown CDC) or on the phone.

Network FY17 Budget Priorities:

Pamela reminded the committee that the Network’s process is to receive recommendations from the committees that are then submitted to the Network Leadership Council for a vote. This vote will take place at the next Leadership Council meeting on 1/20.

Bill Miller: The Coalition for Homeless Individuals (CHI)is a statewide coalition of individual shelter providers working to obtain standardized rates across the state and to obtain rate increases based on annual cost increases. Western MA in general has a history of getting less than its fair share in proportion to the number of people it serves. Legislators are familiar with this discrepancy. Bill proposed that the Network support the recommendations of CHI (still in formation) assuming they are consistent with Western MA needs (which will be reviewed by the committee via email).

Dave Modelewsksi: moved to adopt this recommendation
Charlie: seconded

All in favor: unanimous
None opposed or abstained

Pamela shared an update on the Tenancy Preservation Project, a program that has been a priority for the Network in previous years. Jerry Ray of MHA (who was unable to attend) reported that the statewide group is still formulating its ask.

Charlie Knight: moved to recommend funding of TPP per the statewide recommendation
Gerry McCafferty: seconded
All in favor: unanimous
None opposed or abstained

Expansion of RAFT: This priority, a campaign led by the MA Coalition for the Homeless, was already adopted at our last individual services meeting. It is a proposal to expand the RAFT prevention program to include single individuals (currently serves only families). The ask is $18.5 million.

Western MA Network Legislative Event: The Network is hosting a gathering of the Western MA delegation to discuss our work and FY17 budget priorities on Friday, March 4, 10:30 am – 12 noon, Kittredge Center, Holyoke Community College. All are welcome. Please stay tuned for the next round of notice that will include a request to RSVP.

Network Trainings on Motivational Interviewing, Trauma Informed Care and Critical Time Intervention: The Network has retained Center for Social Innovation to offer these 3 trainings over the winter/spring (2/12, 4/6, 6/7). Stay tuned for notice by email on how to sign up. The trainings are made possible (free of charge) due to State support the Network received in the FY16 budget.

A fond farewell and huge thanks to Lizzy Ortiz: Gerry announced that Lizzy Ortiz of the City of Springfield Housing Department, a tireless advocate for homeless individuals and families and committed partner to the Network, is leaving her position to work for DHCD serving homeless families. Thankfully, she will still be part of our community, but we will miss her dearly in our daily work. THANK YOU, LIZZY!!

Individual Homelessness Roadmap:

Gerry McCafferty produced a draft “roadmap” as a starting point for the development of a workplan over the next 3 years (click here). By gathering the current data that is available and summarizing the efforts that are underway, we can then analyze and determine: what else do we need to know to help guide is in finding solutions; where we are going to focus our attention?

A brainstorm on what more we need to know about the people we are serving:

  • What networks do they already have and are participating in?
  • What services are they seeking and not finding?

These questions require more intensive direction interaction with homeless individuals, e.g., focus groups.

Hwei-Ling noted the Housing Options Tool (HOT) that was created by Andrea Miller a couple of years ago and its utility in understanding the resources that are out there. Gerry noted that the use of this tool would shift under coordinated entry, i.e., access to housing would not be done based on a provider’s individual search for housing but through a coordinated entry point based on the individual’s ranking of need. Jay Levy pointed out that the tool would still be very useful to have quick access t the programs and eligibility requirements, a way for providers to quickly get oriented to the system as a whole.

Tina Giarla raised the question of better understanding the trauma that caused homelessness and/or occurred during homelessness. What has led people to homelessness? What has happened to them while homeless?

Tom Ray pointed out the need to look at medical emergencies in relationship to shelter and the need for medical respite.

Charlie Knight raised understanding what could have been done to avoid homelessness, learning by reflecting on what occurred and devising best strategies on how to prevent homelessness from happening.

Jay Levy noted the need to focus on elder services, to better integrate the response systems around homelessness between provider and state agencies (look to Franklin County model that works). Gerry pointed out that MA ICHH has established a task force to look at this issue which she is serving on.

We agreed to put elder services on next month’s agenda for more lengthy discussion.

We agreed it would be useful to better understand the flow of the street population, the ebb and flow seasonally and where people are going in the winter and where they are coming from in the summer, helping us answer the question of to what degree and how should we be serving this population.

Other data of interest:

  • Length of time between onset of housing crisis and homelessness – what is the path to homelessness so we can interrupt and prevent it.
  • What type of housing are individuals in when the crisis occurs?
  • Where were individuals last housed and where was the first instance of homelessness
  • What can the current RAFT data tell us on circumstances leading to homelessness
  • What are the numbers and the experience of homelessness among the immigrant population
  • Get view of how people who are served view services

Gerry noted that Friends of the Homeless will be overseeing coordinated entry in the Hampden CoC (with this new cycle of funding). This will be an opportunity to pull and refine data; we could use this workplan to map out the information we need and want to get from the coordinated entry process.

We will continue this discussion over the next couple of month, resulting in a workplan by April.

Next meeting: 2/4, 9:30 am, Northampton Senior Center

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