FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 2, 2020
Contact: Charlie Shaddox
Connecticut Advocates, Public Officials Seek to Move 1,000 Homeless into Permanent Housing During Pandemic
Advocates warn that returning homeless to shelter is a public health risk during COVID-19
HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT – The Reaching Home Campaign, in partnership with the Connecticut Department of Housing, and key local, state, and federal partners, has announced its intention to move 1,000 people experiencing homelessness in Connecticut into permanent housing in the next four months.
Connecticut’s homelessness leaders say that this move to permanent housing is necessary in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among the state’s homeless population. In the first weeks of the pandemic, the state successfully moved hundreds of people experiencing homelessness into vacant hotel rooms. These hotel contracts will expire in the coming months, however, and advocates say that permanent housing is the only sustainable solution to prevent outbreaks in the long term.
On Monday, June 1, Reaching Home hosted a Zoom call to officially begin the 1,000 Homes effort, with over 150 frontline workers, advocates, and public officials in attendance. The group outlined plans to house 250 people experiencing homelessness in June, followed by 400 in July and 350 in August with any additional necessary work being done in September.
Advocates say the federal CARES Act provides over $8 million in state funding awarded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which can be used to rapidly re-house people experiencing homelessness. The Connecticut Department of Housing hopes to use that funding, as well as redirected funding from other sources, to provide rental assistance to newly housed individuals.
The initiative to house 1,000 people in a 120-day period is led by the CAN COVID-19 Taskforce of the Reaching Home Campaign. The Taskforce is comprised of the leaders of Connecticut’s Coordinated Access Networks (CANs), which are regional organizations that operate as Connecticut’s access point for homeless services.
The Reaching Home Campaign is a statewide coalition of housing and homelessness advocates, service organizations, and government agencies working toward the collective goal of making homelessness in Connecticut rare, brief, and one-time. The Campaign is staffed and managed by the Partnership for Strong Communities.
“People experiencing homelessness should not be returning to overcrowded shelters while a deadly pandemic is active in our state,” said Kiley Gosselin, Executive Director of the Partnership for Strong Communities. “It’s imperative that our housing solutions must be permanent and public health-focused during this time.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated a greater urgency for an already pressing need, permanent housing,” said Seila Mosquero-Bruno, Commissioner of Housing. “Placing individuals who are experiencing homelessness into permanent housing not only helps prevent the spread of the virus; it is also a mechanism for stability as the state slowly reopens. This is one of the many prongs that my department continues to work on. I look forward to continued collaboration with The Reaching Home Campaign.”
“The need to house 1,000 households in Connecticut is a necessary step to keep our communities healthy and thriving,” said Kelly Fitzgerald, Director of the Greater New Haven CAN. “I believe the ability to house this many clients in such a short period of time will be a result of the collaborative work that shelters, housing providers, municipalities, state agencies, funders and many others have been building prior to the pandemic.”
“HUD remains committed to helping our partners and those we jointly serve get through this crisis, said David Tille, HUD New England Regional Administrator. “We appreciate the extraordinary efforts taking place across Connecticut to help those most in need find a permanent place to call home.”