Individual Services Committee Meeting Minutes – 9/1/16

 In attendance: Nichole Bodiford, Friends of the Homeless, Steve Connor, Veterans Services, Toni Dolan, Veterans Services, John Hornik, Amherst Housing and Sheltering Committee, Todd Koniezhny, Next Step/Lighthouse, Jay Levy, Eliot Services, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield/Hampden CoC, Gleidy Maria, Patty McDonnell, SMOC, Catholic Charities, Dave Modzelewski, Network, Luz Ortiz, Friends of the Homeless, Christina Ruest, Friends of the Homeless, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Mark Watkins, Gandara Center, Paulett Webster, Lighthouse/HRU

Review of Hampden County CoC FY17 Workplan for Chronically Homeless

Click here for workplan.

Gerry McCafferty reviewed and updated the committee on the 6 strategies:

  1. Complete VI-SPDAT on every chronically homeless person in Hampden County:
    good progress being made; hospitals involved, outreach to food pantries, integration into Friends of the Homeless systems; estimates 60-80% of CH individuals are screened. Discovered through outreach efforts with the police department and BHN that there were more homeless individuals than previously aware who were not accessing shelter, although still in process of assessing who is chronically homeless. The by-name list is being built and the tracking of who is being housed and where is underway.
  1. Create and implement outreach plan: this effort is also well underway with the integration of hospitals and police and the continual outreach to other points of access for CH individuals. Most striking thing learned is that HMIS is not the most significant resource for identifying CH individuals but other points of contact instead (e.g., high-end utilizers of health services).
  1. Use REACH meetings to further housing outcomes: This clarified focus of the REACH meetings has happened; now the focus is on outreach to ensure that widest possible net exists for identifying individuals, assessing their needs and finding best housing placements.
  1. Increase the number of units available to CH individuals – Gerry announced that the CoC as part of its NOFA application is submitting an application from Friends of the Homeless for 15 new scattered site units for CH individuals. MHA is determining the number of CSPECH units to be created this year; Springfield Housing Authority is adding more units to his CH project-based voucher program. Gerry is also meeting with other housing authorities to encourage them to use vouchers for the “moving on” program, allowing for a freeing-up of PSH units.
  2. Improve navigation/case management to increase housing placement: this process is underway.
  1. Improve non-PSH housing placements: This process is also underway.

Gerry welcomed committee members additional review and feedback (please email her at: [email protected]). Immediate committee feedback noted the great progress on outreach and the promise of additional PSH units to meet the consequences of it.

3 County CoC Update:

Dave Christopolis was at a conference so unable to attend. Jay Levy offered the update that the 3 County’s coordinated assessment tool is in its pilot phase and is going well with ServiceNet and Eliot Services using the tool (an adaptation of the AZ Matrix tool). Their work plan is in process; the larger challenge in developing the by-name list is the large geography and where to locate the housing match conversations (presumably requiring sub-groups based in each county).

The group discussed the challenge of verifying chronic homelessness, especially if the individuals cross CoC lines. Gerry shared her strategies of recording the dates police or BHN interacted with homeless individual in the community as a basis for verifying homelessness. She also noted that if the individual is in the HMIS system, each CoC could generate a letter verifying dates in shelter and share that information across the CoC.

Veteran housing update:

Steve Connor provided a brief update on housing availability:

The 44 units in Leeds are filled (single men, most units are HUD/VASH)
Most of the Chicopee units are filled; Agawam construction is underway. Bilingual veterans center is having a hard time filling slots.

Amherst update:

John Hornik summarized the latest developments:

  • Production of the Amherst resources directory (previously distributed and available on the blog)
  • Distribution of candidates’ for Amherst House of Rep seat (Rep. Ellen Story’s position) positions on homelessness.  Click here
  • Commitment by Town of Amherst to create a coordinating group around homelessness services

The committee saluted the progress of this initiative and John’s leadership in making it happen.

Statewide CoC Advocacy Update

Gerry McCafferty provided an update on the statewide organizing effort to advocate to HUD for changes in the CoC program. Click here for summary of advocacy effort. Recommendations include the creation of a CoC advisory committee, changing to a multi-year application, rewarding higher performing CoCs with 5 year renewals and target lower performing CoCs with TA; simplify and streamline data reporting.

Gerry welcomed committee feedback prior to bringing the issue to her own CoC board for discussion.   Gerry noted that the advocacy is being driven by HUD’s funding cuts to many of MA’s CoC’s. The City of Springfield has not experienced those cuts and actually receives bonus funds each year as a result of scoring very highly in the competition. She is trying to ascertain the appropriate role of the Hampden County CoC in this effort. Gerry raised the question of whether HUD is pushing for change that gets us all closer to the outcomes we seek and whether annual review is valuable to ensure maximum attention to performance outcomes.   Due to a lack of time, we agreed we would return to the discussion of this effort at our next meeting.

Network mapping process and committee input: Due to lack of time, this agenda item will be taken up at our next meeting.

Next meeting date: Thursday, October 6, 9:30-11 am, Northampton

«   »

Return to full list of blog posts.