Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes
May 20, 2016

 In attendance: Troy Brin, Veterans Inc., Steve Connor, Veterans Services, Pat DiGregorio, Veterans Inc., Scott Haskel, Turner House, Jada Lovett, Craigs Doors, Katherine Person, Veterans Inc., Pamela Schwartz, Network, Kate Sweetster-Owens, VA HUD VASH, Sue White, VA HUD VASH, Sabrina Willard, Springfield Partners

Hampden County Update (via Gerry McCafferty email):

  • Currently putting time and energy into Homelink implementation; next set of trainings (for Housing Navigators and Housing Providers) will take place next Wednesday (5/25). We have moved both the veteran by-name list and the chronic list into the system.
  • The combination  of moving to Homelink and a HUD-required change in HMIS have caused an interruption in by-name listing tracking. There will be an updated report on numbers at our next meeting.
  • 60 Cass St  (veteran housing in Springfield) is now open. Chapin School Apts (veteran housing in Chicopee) is opening this summer.

Release of Information update

Hampden County has resolved the ROI so that providers can resolve veterans’ housing issues together.

The VA just issued new guidance on ROI for homeless veterans – essentially treating their housing status as an emergency and therefore allowing providers to exchange information to resolve the emergency. Click here for the new policy guidelines FYI.

Three County Update

Sabrina and Steve provided an update on Three County progress. The group is meeting bi-weekly, relying on their continually updated by-name list (thanks to Andrea Miller’s innovation and Toni Dolan’s data input support). They are making tremendous progress in moving veterans into housing. Very exciting!

Statewide Update – Click here for ICHH overview

Steve Connor just attended a meeting of the governor’s committee  on veteran homelessness. The subcommittees delivered their recommendations to be presented to the MA ICHH on May 25, and provided progress reports and work plans (see attached).

Veterans/Public Housing and Chapter 115: Click here for the ICHH summary

All public state aided housing authorities will issue a directive for a veteran’s preference for all veterans and spouse’s seeking housing.

All veterans on a fixed income and living in at a local housing authority will have their shelter allowance capped. This will eliminate redundancy for the housing authority, the veteran service officer as well as the veteran. The Veteran will be able to keep as much of their benefit as possible. This change will simplify the process for the veteran, and will make it easier and less burdensome on the community to welcome formerly homeless veterans.

Veterans DOC/VA Re-Entry Process – Click here for the ICHH summary
Recommendation: To facilitate and support the existing discharge planning process in place with DOC, the VA and some Houses of Corrections.

To develop a discharge planning process with DOC and the Houses of Correction to include EOHHS agencies (DVS, DMH, DPH, DTA) and local veterans services officers and providers which will support a successful transition to permanent housing for veterans who are not eligible for VA benefits. Veterans who may not be eligible for VAHealth benefits may still have a likelihood of assistance for Chapter 115 veterans benefits. 

Veterans Grant and Per Diem Working Group – Click here for the ICHH summary Recommendation: Provide a working forum and collaboration with federal (VA and HUD) and state (DHCD, EOHHS, DVS) partners and local veterans services providers to review and analyze MA GPD programs by individual provider and sites. This partnership will make specific recommendations to re-program sites and units into several options as follows: transition to bridge housing, financing for services to provide specialized treatment housing or programming (ie: substance abuse treatment or mental health support programs), assisted living and permanent housing. Some portfolio of GPD programs will need to remain as status quo to offer transitional housing and services for veterans who may fall into homelessness and need temporary support. However, MA has more GPD beds than are currently needed and there are gaps in housing that need to be addressed for veterans.

Steve also shared an update regarding the complicated political issues surrounding the Holyoke Soldiers Home (as it relates to Chelsea’s Home). Currently the Homes are serving different populations with Holyoke providing more a long-term medical model and Chelsea more of a veteran residential facility. It looks like Holyoke is shifting to more of the Chelsea model over the coming years based on pending legislation. More will become clear once master plans are released in the near future.

New veterans resources available through June 30

Sabrina Willard provided this update:

Springfield Partners Veterans’ Department has funding available for Veterans in need of toiletries (newly or about to be housed), workforce development (classes, certifications, work related clothing/supplies), moving expenses not covered by SSVF, education assistance (classes, certifications, supplies needed related to the education), and bus passes. There is a very low threshold for assistance under this funding, and a DD214/verification of military service is needed to be provided the funding. If an SSVF Case Manager through Springfield Partners (Donna Bryant, Donny Yabarra, Melissa Mateus, or Sabrina Willard) is working with someone already, please connect with them. However, if they are not currently connected with Staff, please reach out to Director, Walt Fludd, for more details. Walt cane be reached at 413-263-6500 x 0 ask for Walt Fludd or email him with “DVS Referral” in the subject line ([email protected]). This funding is secured through June 30th, so we are urging folks to submit applications for assistance, even if it’s for a fall semester (education) to ensure they are considered for assistance.

Next meeting: Friday, June 24, 9:15 am – 10:30 am, Mental Health Association, 995 Worthington Street, Springfield

«   »

Return to full list of blog posts.