Affordable Housing, Announcements, Community Development, Homelessness, State News, Supportive Housing

2014 Legislative Session Addresses Many Housing and Homelessness Needs

 

The Connecticut Legislature may have ended what’s known as a “short session” on May 7th, but it nonetheless accomplished a long list of initiatives meant to ensure that all of Connecticut’s residents are adequately housed.

From permanent supportive housing units for veterans to transit-oriented development investments that will allow low- and moderate-income residents to reduce their housing and transportation expenses, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and the General Assembly heard and responded to a host of housing needs.

“We are fortunate, and all Connecticut residents are fortunate, to have a Governor and Legislature that understand that a safe, secure, affordable home is the foundation of opportunity,” said Alicia Woodsby, interim executive director of the Partnership for Strong Communities. “Since the moment Gov. Malloy took office, they have invested, in a robust and multi-faceted way, in an effort to fundamentally improve the lives of so many. We are truly grateful.”

Connecticut veterans were a special focus this legislative session, with Gov. Malloy proposing and the Legislature approving $50,000 for a security deposit guarantee program for veterans, $600,000 for a new Veterans Opportunity Pilot, and $500,000 for planning and a feasibility study for additional veteran’s housing on the Rocky Hill Veterans Home campus. Gov. Malloy made the unprecedented commitment to end homelessness among veterans by the end of 2015. The Reaching Home Campaign has also committed to ending homelessness among veterans through its Opening Doors-Connecticut framework.

In addition to the veteran commitments, several of the Partnership for Strong Communities’ priorities -- developed with its many partners on behalf of the Reaching Home and HOMEConnecticut Campaigns -- were advanced through this year’s legislative process. They included expansion of rapid re-housing, funding for new units of scattered-site permanent supportive housing, restoration of the funding for the Homeless Youth Program, and flexible rental subsidies. The Reaching Home Campaign also supported the state’s preservation of expiring federal substance abuse and mental health programs to sustain existing efforts that tackle chronic homelessness.

An outline of the major housing related items approved by the Legislature that are important to the Partnership and its allies is provided below.

Department of Housing:

  • $1.1 million for 110 new rental subsidies for scattered-site Permanent Supportive Housing
  • $1 million for 100 new rental subsidies
  • $650,000 for Rapid Re-housing
  • $138,000 for Columbus House in New Haven to provide for resident services coordination at Horace Bushnell, Hartford; and Jefferson House, New Britain.
  • $50,000 for a security deposit guarantee program for veterans
  • $200,000 for rental subsidies for the Dept. of Children and Families

Department of Housing/FLEX

  • $90 million; with up to $20 million set aside to promote homeownership in Hartford, New Britain, New  London, Bridgeport, New Haven, Norwalk, and Stamford (bond funds)

Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services:

  • $10 million for substance abuse and mental health services; transferred from the Tobacco Settlement fund
  • $2.0 million to replace lost federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) funding for the Behavioral Health Collaborative. These housing initiatives serve some of the most complex people experiencing homelessness. One site included the Pathways to Independence model (PTI), which focuses heavily on employment for high need individuals experiencing homelessness, and is one that Opening Doors-CT is seeking to sustain and expand.
  • $1.1 million for services for the 110 new scattered site permanent supportive housing units
  • $289,000 to Victory Gardens in Newington for supportive services for veterans in supportive housing

              
Department of Children and Families:

  • $1 million to restore funding for the Youth Homelessness Program (established in 2010 by Section 17a-62a of the CT General Statutes)

Department of Transportation:

  • $470,000 to fund new Transit-Oriented Development positions

Office of Policy and Management:

  • $7 million for Transit-Oriented Development and predevelopment activities (bond funds)

Department of Veterans Affairs

  • $500,000 for a planning and feasibility study for additional veterans housing at the Rocky Hill campus (bond funds)

Department of Labor:

  • $10 million for the STEP-UP program (bond funds)
  • $600,000 for a new Veterans Opportunity Pilot

Department of Social Services:

  • $4.15 million under Medicaid for an adult mental health outpatient rate increase

OTHER LEGISLATIVE:

  • SB 363 – Transfers the Community Investment Act from the CT Housing Finance Authority to the Department of Housing
  • HB 5378 – An Act Implementing the Recommendations of the Legislative Program Review and Investigations Committee Concerning Medicaid-Funded Emergency Department Visits.

    The bill defines the term “frequent users,” for purposes of certain Medicaid statutes, as a client with ten or more annual visits to a hospital emergency department (Section 1(b), lines 39-41).

    This bill requires the state’s Medicaid Administrative Services Organizations serving DSS, DCF and DMHAS to provide intensive case management services that, among other things, will (1) identify hospital emergency departments with high numbers of frequent users, (2) create regional intensive case management teams to work with emergency department physicians, and (3) assign at least one intensive case management team staff member to participating emergency departments during their hours of highest frequency use.

  • HB 5597 –  Budget Implementer: includes a one-year exemption for the town of Milford from  Section 8-30g, the affordable housing appeals statute

 

 
 

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