FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 5, 2020
Contact: Charlie Shaddox
Partnership for Strong Communities
Connecticut Houses 1,099 Homeless Over Four Months, Continues Push for Housing
In June, housing advocates in Connecticut launched a push to house 1,000 people experiencing homelessness over four months. This was to help maintain the COVID-19 related decompression of emergency shelters where individuals and families experiencing homelessness had been temporarily relocated to hotels. Now, they are sounding the alarm on the need for more housing to combat the state’s homelessness crisis.
The 1,000 Homes effort, which ran from June 1 to September 30, resulted in 1,099 people connected to housing. The effort was launched by a partnership between Connecticut’s Coordinated Access Networks (CANs), the state Department of Housing, and housing advocacy organizations statewide.
But despite the success of the initiative, homelessness leaders are warning that people are entering the homeless service system as quickly as they can be housed.
Economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increase in housing instability nationwide, and the winter months are a particularly dangerous time for people sleeping on the street.
Leaders in the CAN system, which handles intake for the state’s homeless services, report that up to 35% more people are attending appointments for housing services. They say this data indicates that thousands of people in Connecticut have become housing-unstable during COVID-19.
Simultaneously, due to the ongoing pandemic, homeless shelters in Connecticut are not able to serve as many people as usual. At the outset of the pandemic, shelters were directed to decrease the overall number of beds in order to comply with social distancing guidelines. Advocates say that, during the winter, there will be fewer than 600 shelter beds available in the state. In a recent survey, shelter providers reported that the overall shelter capacity will be lower than 31% for individuals and 12% for families than pre-COVID capacity.
“There’s no question that housing instability is an even more dire problem than it was before the pandemic,” says Matt Morgan, Executive Director of Journey Home, a service organization that serves Greater Hartford and central Connecticut. “Many people have lost their stable income and their ability to pay rent, and homeless encampments are growing in some communities.”
The federal CARES Act stimulus, which was passed in April, provided the CANs with over $8 million to use for housing assistance. CAN leaders say their priority is connecting with landlords to find available rental homes across the state.
“We have the resources to house people, now we just need to find apartments for them,” says Alicia Woodsby, Senior Policy Advisor for the Partnership for Strong Communities. “We’re urging landlords with available units to get in touch with their local CANs.”