Individual Services Committee
March 3, 2016

In attendance: Gwen Burke, Friends of the Homeless, Matt Castleman, Open Pantry, Courtnee Godbolt, Friends of the Homeless, Janice Humason, Friends of the Homeless, Nichole King, Friends of the Homeless, Charlie Knight, Rainville, SCARF, Todd Koniezhny, HRU/Lighthouse, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Bill Miller, Friends of the Homeless, Luz Ortiz, Friends of the Homeless, Jerry Ray, Mental Health Association, Tom Ray, Friends of the Homeless, Denise Rivera, Friends of the Homeless, Laura Robertson, Catholic Charities, Christina Ruest, Friends of the Homeless, Joe Schroeter Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Pamela Schwartz, Network

2016 Point in Time Count Results – Five Year Trends

Click here for Hampden County

Click here for Three County

We discussed the basically constant rate of individual homelessness over the last 5 years (last year’s individual PIT count was artificially low because of the extreme cold weather on the night of the count).   We analyzed that the priority has been on reducing chronic homelessness, which the region is doing, but that the rate of short-term individual homelessness is still high due to underlying factors of poverty and other economic, education and employment issues. We need to keep pushing for more comprehensive assistance to individuals in order to prevent homelessness and to prevent more people from becoming chronically homeless. This need is the basis for our legislative advocacy to increase the bed rate for emergency shelters, which is essential to provide the support system necessary to begin to meet the challenges.

Hampden County Coordinated Entry Update

Gerry reported via email:

  • Expectation that we will transition to combined single wait list as of April 1, 2016 – still figuring out technology that supports this, perhaps use of HomeLink and a Housing Navigator
  • All PSH providers must make sure that anyone on their wait list is on the by-name list
  • Meeting for CoC PSH providers to discuss/work out final details: March 8, 3 pm.

Some providers needed confirmation of that meeting date. Pamela will contact Gerry to provide that reminder.

Three County Assessment Tool and By-Name List Development

Jay Levy provided an update on 3 County progress. A by-name list is in process. A coordinated entry tool is in place for veterans. A sub-committee is meeting to determine the most appropriate vulnerability index tool for the region. The group sees limitations in the VISPDAT tool and is looking at a version of a tool called the Arizona Matrix which Jay has seen used with success in Worcester.   This matrix is seen as less demanding on staff and less intrusive on clients. It would also be supplemented by in-person discussion.

Jay also shared how they are looking to use the ServiceNet weekly provider meetings as the place to review the by-name list and vulnerability scores, and use the monthly REACH meetings to discuss more broadly the trends and the Critical Response Team.

Bill Miller noted that the VISPDAT scores missed people who have been in shelter for a year (they scored a 5 instead of a 20); that there are gaps in the tool that require in-person follow-up.

We agreed that uniformity on a vulnerability tool across all four counties would be useful; that this is something to look at as systems evolve. Due to the different timing in each sub-region – Hampden County has already trained its staff in the VISPDAT – this will require continued information sharing and discussion.

Critical Response Team

Jay reviewed for us the progress on various high-need individuals. Slow and steady acceptance of more help, identifying of issues and more precise needs for intervention are happening. One of the things learned is the distinguishing for each individual about what is acute care (e.g., medical) vs. long-term care issues. Dave Modzelewski is convening the CRT meetings; they require a lot of work to bring all the right people and agencies to the table. And that work is seeing results.

Elder Services Follow-up

Gerry reported via email:

  • The by-name list shows a number of very vulnerable people over 60–including 4 of the 5 people that providers have recommended for the critical response team.
  • Gerry will reach out to elder agencies to talk with us about how elder protective services could be part of the response to these folks. Gerry has established a relationship with the state’s Secretary of Elders about this and she’s very supportive and ready to provide assistance.
  • On a state level: The ICHH has/is creating 4 committees, one of which is the Elder and Chronic Committee, which Gerry is sitting on. The group has had an initial meeting, with a second meeting planned for next week. The goal is for the committee to create recommendations to present to the ICHH in May.

The committee noted that state elder services is more centralized (does not have regional directors) but instead relies on local senior services as liaison. So reaching out to our senior services is key.

Next meeting dates:
Due to conflict with NE Fair Housing and Civil Rights Conference on our usual meeting date of 4/7, we are meeting next on Thursday , April 14, in Northampton, 9:30 am. May meeting will be as usual on 5/5 at FOH.

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