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“The state must keep the promise that it made to clients and the public when state hospitals were closed…the evidence indicates that the treatment of a growing number of persons is being shifted to other institutional settings, such as prisons, nursing homes, shelters and repetitive use of short-term hospitalizations.”   --Jan VanTassel, CLRP Executive Director

In 1999, the LC v. Olmstead US Supreme Court decision prohibited the unjustified institutionalization of persons with disabilities, documenting the lack of housing and community services required to implement the prohibition on institutional settings. Connecticut’s General Assembly responded by reallocating the identified $13.6 million set to support this transition into the state’s general fund when the hospitals closed, leaving vulnerable people left without community supports or services to stabilize and connect with safe, stable housing opportunities.

Since then, the body of agencies and advocates who make up the Keep the Promise Coalition have been influencing policymakers and elected officials to maintain a focus on assuring that CT provides the comprehensive range of housing, supports and services that persons of every age need to maintain good health, including their mental health, and play an active role in their communities.

The Reaching Home Campaign was launched in 2004 with the goal of ending chronic homelessness in Connecticut through the creation of permanent supportive housing but has evolved over time to help inform policy and advocacy efforts to make homelessness a rare, brief and one time experience in Connecticut. Operating under the collective impact model, or the commitment of a group of actors from different sectors to a common agenda for solving a specific social problem, using a structured form of collaboration, the Campaign is always seeking opportunities to bring in new experts and advocates to inform our work.

With a natural intersection in our work and a model designed around engaging multiple and diverse stakeholders, the Reaching Home Campaign became an active member of the Keep the Promise Coalition and has maintained its membership to help build advocacy and policy connections between mental, behavioral health and housing/homelessness needs across the state. Both groups participate in supporting each other’s legislative priorities, goals and advocacy at the municipal, local and state level, and place high value on ensuring those with direct lived expertise have the opportunity and platform to use their experiences to advocate for policies, procedures and practices that can be lifesaving for those facing a variety of health or housing related crises. This collaboration helps us to ensure steady progress towards our overlapping goals and values.

In the aftermath of the pandemic, collaborative and like-minded coalitions and advocates coming together to push for changes that have wide-ranging impacts on CT’s most vulnerable residents is a near necessity as we face high rates of unemployment, long- and short-term health complications, and a significant shortage of affordable housing, healthcare, or other service-related resources. If we aim to ensure folks are connected to the supports necessary to finding safety and stability in their lives, we must come together to be vocal about the changes that need to occur to budgeting and legal procedures. Changes that have long perpetuated racist and discriminatory practices responsible for leaving many without the care or supports they need to heal and thrive in our state. 

As the Keep the Promise Coalition hosts its’ annual Award Ceremony on October 27th to honor and celebrate our commitments and collaboration together over the years, we must also remember all the important work ahead necessary to advance changes that will improve autonomy, health, housing opportunities and general well-being for all of CT’s residents.

For more information on the Keep the Promise Coalition, its historic and current work, click here.

To learn more about the work and structure of the Reaching Home Campaign, click here.

Danielle Hubley
Policy Analyst
Partnership for Strong Communities