Individual Services Committee Meeting Minutes

In attendance:  Grechar Aquino, Friends of the Homeless, Steve Connor, Veterans Services, John Fisher, Way Finders, Janice Humason, Friends of the Homeless, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Charlie Knight, SCARF/Rainville, Jen Lucca, Samaratin Inn, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Digno Oritz, Friends of the Homeless, Luz Ortiz, Friends of the Homeless, Katie Roberts, Clean SlateWS, Denise Rivera, Friends of the Homeless, Christina Ruest, Friends of the Homeless, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Stephanie Tonelli, Friends of the Homeless, Lynn White, HRU

Hampden County Update:
Just conducted a Coordinated Entry training – about 40 people attended, including PSH and shelter providers – PSH providers, shelter providers – on the mechanics of coordinated entry, e.g., documenting chronic homelessness status, prioritizing based on vulnerability assessment, using a centrally coordinated list.  Outreach still to do to health care providers.  Continuing to tackle the challenge of creating systems for street population and other shelters for coordinated entry.

HUD CoC Competition underway and must produce updated policies and procedures on Coordinated Entry – stay tuned

2 applications going in for 5 year SAMHSA grant to work with CH individuals with dual diagnoses – one from BHN, the other from FOH/CSO. Hopefully one will get funded and these resources will be available.

Three County CoC Update:
Making progress on by-name list for CH individuals, targeting use of the assessment tool.  Working on the mechanics of a Release of Information across agencies (Gerry noted a sharing of best practices that has an ROI referring to a web-based listing which allows for the changing nature of organizations and the continuing application of the signed ROI).

It was noted that when the total by-name list of CH individuals (just under 60) is broken down by county, the challenge is less overwhelming – brings home the value of targeting

The by-name list of veterans is in full use, targeting the homeless veterans who are not “covered” in the new per diem “bed type” categories as dictated by the VA (and implemented by Soldier On). Soldier On is opening new housing in Agawam in August (an earlier than anticipated opening date), bringing 51 housing units on line for homeless veterans.

There was discussion of cross-referencing between Hampden and Three County lists in order to zero in on people who are from Hampden County and sleep outside in the warmer months and utilize Hampshire County shelters in the colder months. Gerry is trying to connect to the dots on outreach to these people. Jay Levy and Stephanie Tonelli will talk more about this.

Data Template Review
The group discussed the effort thus far to collate data from individual shelters to analyze demand and learn about gaps. We recounted that last month was our first month of exchanging the data template for all shelters where we agreed that without a more focused data analysis it was difficult to utilize the data well. Pamela, Gerry and Bill met prior to this meeting to discuss the goals further. We reported back that some concern was raised around focusing on the geographic origin of people attending since it could inadvertently foster concerns around serving “out-of-town” people in need of shelter. We agreed that our concern is providing emergency shelter to those in need, not a “my people vs. your people” approach.

Gerry noted that if the goal is determining where there is high need, we can do that through the Point in Time Count (e.g., Holyoke has a high number of unsheltered people and no emergency shelter).

We also noted the capacity issue around data analysis, i.e., we have none! So we do not want to add to people’s work load in data production without clarity around how it will be used.

Gerry noted that DHCD is very interested in enhancing data around homeless individuals in general, wanting to set targets and goals but needing good data to do so. DHCD is looking at creating a data warehouse to look at de-identified and de-duplicated data.  Gerry noted that within the next 6-9 months, there be increased capacity to examine data at both a State and CoC level.

Meanwhile, we can get clear on what data we are looking for and why. Gerry noted that looking at the unsheltered population more deeply may reveal more information about gaps in needs; that the development of the by-name list has also been a great source of learning about the population. We agreed that at our next meeting, Gerry could share this information as well as a look at what HMIS could provide very readily. We agreed that we do not want to reinvent the wheel in data production but instead draw on what currently exists and delve more deeply.

Jay noted the importance of ensuring access to shelter for all those who need it in the community in which they live.

It was also noted that the best response to the high shelter numbers is to institute a diversion program that offers stable housing as an alternative to shelter.

Shelter update:
Craig’s Doors and Northampton cot shelter closing 5/1
Taylor Street is seasonal but not closing 5/1, will be open until funds run out, likely June/July
FOH: transitioning overflow population to main shelter; looking by end of month not to have anyone in overflow; women no longer in overflow.

Next meeting date: Thurs May 4, 9:30-11 am, Northampton Senior Center, subject to confirmation.


Topics for next meeting:

Learn more about what the by-name list tells us as compared to HMIS – what additional insight does it provide?            What does HMIS provide in terms of our demand/gap analysis?

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