September 2015

A letter from Lisa Tepper Bates

Hello friends,

I hope that you enjoyed a few restful days this summer, even in the midst of so much terrific, high-impact work to advance our mission to end homelessness across the state.  

Last week, the nation witnessed a milestone when Gov. Dannel Malloy announced that Connecticut was the first in the country to end chronic homelessness among veterans. You can read more about it on our website.

But our work is far from over. This fall kicks off the final push in our statewide effort to end the homelessness of ALL veterans in Connecticut by year's end! Connecticut's great work to date, involving collaboration with colleagues at the VA, HUD, DOH, SSVF programs, and mainstream shelters and homeless providers, has put us on track to achieve this important goal!

At the same time, we are working closely with our colleagues in CANs across the state to hone in on community-informed estimates of chronic homelessness as we reach for the next goal - ending the homelessness of our most vulnerable and longest homeless neighbors by the end of 2016.

Many thanks to all of you for your hard work and dedication to our share mission, every day.

Best regards,


NL County Shelter Diversion for Families Shows Positive Impact

Family homeless service providers in New London County, Connecticut, have been working together since 2012 to implement shelter diversion at the front door of their local homeless system.  These efforts have significantly reduced the number of families entering shelter in New London County: During FY2015, New London County providers diverted to alternative housing solutions 80% of the families who presented seeking emergency shelter intake. Further, initial evidence suggests that only one in six families diverted in New London County return at a later date to seek shelter in Connecticut.  

CCEH Hosts SPDAT Trainings in August

CCEH, with support from the CT Department of Housing, was pleased to offer training on Service Prioritization Assistance Tool, or SPDAT, on August 10 in Ledyard and August 11 in New Haven. 

The trainer, Iain De Jong, is the CEO and President of OrgCode Consulting and an international expert in the development and use of evidence-based practices in the effort to end homelessness and other social change endeavors. These trainings, geared towards case managers and other frontline staff, were filled to capacity and offered many ideas and tips on how to best utilize the SPDAT. 

D ifferent from the VI-SPDAT, which was adopted as the common tool within the CAN regions as a triage tool to assess risk, the SPDAT provides a much more in-depth assessment of clients.

The SPDAT can be used effectively to resolve VI-SPDAT score disputes, clarify particular issues that arise with clients, and measure client progress. In cases when a client's VI-SPDAT score appears inaccurate, staff can utilize a portion of the SPDAT to target a particular area of concern and collect additional documentation to support any changes in assessment. In addition, the SPDAT can be used as a case management tool for housed clients to help the client and case manager gauge improvement.  

The use of the full SPDAT is not a required assessment tool in Connecticut. It is up to each Coordinated Access Network or organization to determine how to use the SPDAT.  However, it is recommended only individuals who have been properly trained in its use administer the SPDAT.

I n addition, the VI-SPDAT 2.0, which was featured in the trainings, is scheduled to be rolled out with the upcoming HMIS upgrade. However, since the scoring on the VI-SPDAT 2.0 is different from 1.0., communities should not start using version 2.0 yet. CCEH is working with the Continuums of Care in the state to secure approval before changing from the VI-SPDAT 1.0 to 2.0 as the statewide common assessment tool. Once the CoCs approve this change, CCEH will set up an implementation timeline for HMIS and conduct a statewide training to roll out the new version. CCEH will be announcing the timeframe for this as more information becomes available.
DOH Supports Communities with Additional Resources for Cold Weather Shelter 

We are grateful to the state Department of Housing for its positive response to CCEH's advocacy on behalf of providers and communities requesting additional funding for emergency shelter in the cold weather months.  DOH is making additional resources available through CCEH to each of the state's eight CANs to help with a variety of costs associated with the higher demand for shelter in the cold weather months.  CANs will work together to determine the most effective use of the available resources in their community.  These resources will help us to meet the needs of the most vulnerable when they need emergency shelter most.  Our thanks to DOH!  For more information on these funds, please contact CCEH Financial Director Mary Jane de Filippo

CCEH/PSC to help communities meet DOH Oct. 1 deadline

The Department of Housing and our three HUD CoCs, in compliance with the federal mandate for housing prioritization, are requiring all Coordinated Access Networks to prioritize their housing resources based on real-time information on vulnerability and history of homelessness in order to receive maximum state and federal funding.  In Connecticut, we are using the VI-SPDAT and creating registries of all those experiencing homelessness as our mechanism to collect and track this information.

Further to the state's approved FY2016 budget, we are fortunate to have some additional resources for housing and services available through the Departments of Housing and Mental Health and Addiction Services to help communities in our shared effort to meet the Zero: 2016 goals of ending Veteran homelessness this year, and ending chronic homelessness in CT by next year.  

In addition, the State has federal Continuum of Care resources through the Connecticut Balance of State Continuum of Care that are also dedicated to serving the most vulnerable individuals.  DOH, DMHAS and the Connecticut Balance of State Continuum of Care are eager to get these additional resources to work, and will seek to allocate them according to each CANs assessment of chronically homeless need.   In order to proceed with this allocation of resources, DOH has set a deadline of Oct. 1  for CANs to develop their assessment of the number of chronically homeless according to a CAN-wide registry of all persons experiencing homelessness.

CCEH and the Partnership for Strong Communities will be reaching out to your CAN to set a time to meet in the next few weeks with your CAN staff who can best explain your community registry system.  Our goal will be to review with you the prioritized registry developed in your community, to assess all existing data, and then develop with you a new, chronic homelessness estimate for your CAN to reach the Zero: 2016 goal that reflects the information gathered on the ground by your CAN.  This assessment for your community will be used by DOH, DMHAS, and CT-BOS to determine allocation of resources.  

More than $100K raised for shelter diversion through be homeful
Did you know that the be homeful project has already raised close to $100K for shelter diversion in Connecticut? 

This spring, thanks to the generous support of People's United Bank, UIL Holdings Corporation Foundation, and many additional donors, CCEH was able to partner with Supportive Housing Works and Fairfield County providers to divert 23 families in Fairfield County from shelter. 

CCEH is seeking to make the fund available throughout the state and is looking for partners interested in collaborating. If you are interested in joining forces with CCEH to bring shelter diversion resources to your community, please contact Katie Kenney at (860) 721-7876 x101.
Barbara Geller
All of us at CCEH send our thoughts and condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Barbara Geller, retired Director of Statewide Services for the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, who passed away earlier this week.

From Commissioner Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, August 31, 2015:

It is with sadness that we respectfully acknowledge the passing of Barbara Geller last night after a long illness. She served our Department as Director of Statewide Services for 18 years, retiring earlier this year, on June 1st. She was surrounded by family and loved-ones at the time of her passing. 

During her long tenure with the Department, Barbara was a valuable member of the senior leadership team, bringing with her expertise and passion in behavioral health services. As Director of Statewide Services, Barbara oversaw services designed to meet the unique needs of individuals throughout the state in women's services, aging, housing, homelessness, employment services, special education, nursing home placement, infectious disease, traumatic brain injury, problem gambling, surviving trauma, pregnant or parenting women, and prevention and health promotion. 

Prior to joining DMHAS, Barbara had worked for Project Safe in New Haven. In June of this year, Barbara was honored at the 10th annual Reaching Home Celebration Dinner and Housing Awards. She was given the Reaching Home Career Achievement Award, which was received by her husband and two sons. Barbara dedicated her career to bring us closer to ending homelessness, and DMHAS was honored to have her in a leadership role for so many years. 

A memorial service will be held at the Slifka Center for Jewish Life at Yale, 80 Wall Street, New Haven on Wednesday, September 2nd at 9:30 a.m. We will email the obituary as soon as it is available. On behalf of the DMHAS community, I extend our heartfelt sympathy to Barbara's family during this difficult time.