Individual Services Meeting
February 4, 2016

In attendance: Jesus Arce, City of Springfield, Elizabeth Bienz, ServiceNet, Carl Cignoni, Hampshire County Sheriff’s Office/DOC Office of Re-Entry, Steve Connor, Veterans Services, Toni Dolan, Veteran Services, Ezzell Floranina, Amherst Community Connections, Erin Forbush, ServiceNet, Jen Glover, Franklin County Home Care Corporation, Hwei-Ling Greeney, Amherst Community Connections, Emily Koplar, Catholic Charities, Peg Keller, City of Northampton, Charlie Knight, former consumer/Rainville, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Dave McClosky, Open Pantry, Katie Miernecki, ServiceNet, Dave Modzelewski, Network, Laura Saponare, Catholic Charities, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Lynn White, HRU

Point in Time Count Update (preliminary results from 1/27 count)
Unsheltered count (thanks to Jay Levy for these preliminary numbers):

Three County:
Leverett: 1 (chronic); Amherst, 6 (4 chronic); Hadley, 3 (chronic), Northampton, 5 (3 chronic); Greenfield, 9 (3 chronic),

Hampden County:
Holyoke, 12 (5 chronic); Chicopee 3 (chronic); Westfield, 4 (1 chronic); West Springfield, 3 (1 chronic), Southwick, 0

Gerry also added Springfield number: 13, including 1 under 18

Total unsheltered count is 35 – similar numbers to 2012-2014 (2015 down b/c count occurred when bitterly cold)

Sheltered count decreased relative to last year.
Total count for Hampden County: 277 people

Not seeing much of a difference from previous years – between 266 and 277 since 2012

But it was notable that almost no shelter was full, i.e., there is the capacity to shelter the unsheltered. Also the numbers in transitional housing are down.

On veterans: last year 38 veterans, this year down to 21, a testimony to the outreach work going on.   No unsheltered veterans were identified in Hampden County; one in Three County.

Chronically homeless numbers are going down, another reflection of the successful work in housing some of the hardest-to-house quicker.

The number of unsheltered homeless people in Holyoke (12) suggest the need to consider a Permanent Supportive Housing project in Holyoke. More to discuss.

Jen Glover, Franklin County Home Care Corporation, on elder homelessness:

FCHC is changing name to Life Path as of March 1.

Jen has been the supportive housing coordinator for 9 years. Provides support services to all residents of PSH (a total of 100 units) through a partnership with Greenfield Housing Authority. She works with tenants to meet emergency needs (through various funding pools) and to maximize public benefits and to do whatever it takes to prevent homelessness. In 9 years, there has only been one eviction.

At risk or homeless elders in the community receive services through the agency’s protective services department. Referrals come from social service providers or police, typically. The majority of the population they see become homeless due to condemnation or foreclosures. They also mental health, substance abuse and CORI issues as factors.

We discussed how best to approach other area elder agencies to increase efforts with homeless elders. Jen noted the philosophical challenge that may exist: people have a right to refuse help; unless they lack capacity, it is their choice to receive assistance or not. There is a question of consistent criteria across the agencies for “screening in” vs. “screening out” clients. And then there is the question of when a client initially refuses services but then later asks for them – can an agency screen them out permanently based on the initial refusal? We would think not, but this question deserves attention as a policy matter.

We agreed on the next step of the Network convening a meeting of all elder service agencies in our region with the Executive Office of Elder Affairs (EOEA) and DHCD to better learn about relevant policies, challenges and best practices. Pamela will follow-up with Gerry and Dave (Hampden and Three County CoCs) to plan.

Pamela reported on the recent submission of 2 applications from the Western region in response to EOHHS’ RFR to create “local consortiums to respond to acute housing instability.” Both applications seek to create a coordinated entry system in each sub-region that will serve every population (family, individual, youth) in homelessness prevention and rehousing. The CoCs and the Network collaborated on the 2 applications, acknowledging the vast geographic and demographic diversity and how best to meet the needs within the region. We should hear back from EOHHS within a few weeks in view of the short turnaround time.

FY17 Budget Update:
Pamela reported briefly on the Governor’s budget, which reduced the individual shelter line-item, and now requires the typical advocacy for earmarks to close the gap.   Stay tuned for continuing advocacy for this and other relevant budget items.

Critial Response Team Report:
Dave Modzelewski and Jay Levy reported on their work with a 50 year old man who has lived on the streets for decades and has suffered enormous trauma. Now hospitalized (after countless hospitalizations), there is a tremendous collaborative effort among Mercy Medical Center, Baystate Hospital, BHN, Eliot Services, police, and others to obtain temporary guardianship and ultimately supportive housing for this individual. The hospitals are taking an active role, as is the Police Department. An excellent example of the partnership and investment required to house individuals suffering chronic homelessness.

Three County by-name list update: Jay Levy, Jay Sacchetti and Lisa Goldsmith are working together to devise a vulnerability tool for the 3 County area. We agreed their process will be shared with Hampden County to attempt coordination between tools (Hampden County is using the VI-SPDAT; Three County wants to tweak it further).

Next meeting: March 3, 10:30 – noon, Friends of the Homeless
April meeting: Thursday, April 7, 9:30-11:00 am, Northampton Senior Center, Clare Deucher will present on SOAR (outreach project for SSI/SSDI)

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