Individual Services Meeting
August 4, 2016
In attendance: Erin Forbush, ServiceNet, Jen Glover, Life Path, Allie Haber, Network, Dave Havens, Mental Health Association, John Hornik, Amherst Housing and Shelter Committee, Peg Keller, City of Northampton, Charlie Knight, former consumer, Patricia McDonnell, SMOC, Dave Modzelewski, Shirley Rodriguez, Celtic Care Health Plan, Network, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Sarah Tanner, Friends of the Homeless, Lynn White, HRU, Rebekah Wilder, Craig’s Doors
FY17 State Budget Update: Pamela reported on the FY17 budget outcomes in relation to the Network priorities (click here for summary). In terms of individual services priorities:
- The individual shelter bed rate did not increase to $30/night. Instead ,there was a very small increase in the funding line-item to individual shelters.
- RAFT eligibility was expanded to include a small pilot project amount ($500,000) allocated to disabled individuals, the elderly and unaccompanied homeless youth. (required a legislative override of the Governor’s veto)
- The Network was funded for an additional year at $125,000 (and required a legislative override of the Governor’s veto).
- Additional overrides that were not initially included in the Network priorities but became priorities due to the Governor’s vetoes included Craig’s Doors (Amherst shelter) and Berkshire prevention and shelter funds. Both are intact thanks to the legislature’s overrides.
- Tenancy Preservation Project (TPP) was level funded at $500,000
- Unaccompanied homeless youth received $1m in FY17 and will receive an additional $1m through FY16 carryover (once supplemental budget is passed), so essentially level-funded.
- Local consortiums – which provided prevention and re-housing funds for both individuals and families – were not funded in the FY17 budget. However, the Governor has allocated $1 million in funding (which would make it level to FY16) in a supplemental budget that has not yet been voted on so there is reason to be hopeful.
In light of the lower-than-anticipated state revenues for FY17, the region (and State) did well overall in the funding of its priorities. 9C cuts (mid-year cuts imposed by the Governor) are especially threatening this year in view of the fiscal constraints.
We also shared the acknowledgment of our Western MA legislative delegation’s tremendous support of our efforts. We encouraged sending notes of thanks to Senate President Rosenberg and House Ways and Means Vice-Chair Stephen Kulik and your own senator and representative. Find contact info https://malegislature.gov/People/Search
Friends of the Homeless Update: Sarah Tanner of FOH announced that FOH and Clinical & Support Options (CSO) have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding to merge operations. The process is currently in the due diligence phase. FOH will stay the same in its services and leadership; the exciting opportunity with the merger is the addition of expanded on-site mental health and other support services to its shelter guests. They hope to complete the merger by the end of 2016.
Debrief on Amherst Forum on Homelessness
Thanks to John Hornik of the Amherst Housing and Shelter Committee for attending our meeting and for organizing the forum. He noted that attendance far exceeded his expectations (estimated 130 in attendance). There were good presentations by speakers and then 5 break-out groups to discuss specific topics, e.g., outreach, day services, etc. Pamela can forward John’s notes on the break-out group discussions to anyone interested (please let her know).
People at our meeting who attended the forum (Rebekah, Peg, Sarah, Allie) also shared their experiences. All acknowledged the tension in the room regarding consumer representation on the panel. One consumer spoke at the end and he was very hostile and attacking in his talk, which contributed to the intensity of the evening. Sarah described the evening as “positive intensity;” Peg described it as “provocative.”
Everyone acknowledged the critical importance of hearing from consumers to better understand their challenges and needs. Determining the best vehicle for obtaining that representation is also challenging but something that must be addressed on a local level.
Peg also spoke on behalf of the whole group to thank John for his work on making this forum happen. “A very brave thing to do” to create a community-wide opportunity to stare at this challenge and open everyone up to the difficulty and frustration experienced by many.
John welcomed input on next steps. The Committee agreed that the most important next step would be the creation of a coordinating group similar to what exists in Northampton and Springfield that is made up of all the key partners: the Town leaders – police, fire, etc. – Craig’s Doors, Eliot Services, business leader and anyone else they deem appropriate. This group should establish a regular meeting schedule that affords the opportunity to build relationships, strategies and trouble-shoot as needed. The Network will continue to make itself available to support this effort as needed.
John distributed a draft directory of Amherst services and resources related to homelessness. Feedback is welcome (Pamela will send this to the whole group for review and feedback shortly). Feedback can go to John directly at email@example.com.
- Erin Forbush updated that ServiceNet shelters are all full with wait lists. ServiceNet received a 3 year SAMHSA grant – one of 25 in the nation – to provide mental health and housing services. Great news!
- Shirley Rodriguez of Celticare Health joined us today. Based in Waltham, MA but serving the state, she wanted to let us know that any consumers who have Celticare insurance coverage are entitled to support services through its insurance program. For more information, contact Shirley at 617-779-5120 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Network mapping project:
Peg informed everyone of the Network’s upcoming “mapping project” to be conducted by an interim steering committee made up of executive directors from cross-section of agencies from across the four counties. The agenda is to revisit the multiple meeting demands – from Network to CoCs to Consortiums to WMIC – and map how best and most efficiently meet the goal of ending homelessness in the region. We will keep everyone posted of the project’s progress as it unfolds.
Next meeting date: Thursday, September 1, 10:30-noon, Friends of the Homeless, Springfield