Mollie Greenwood is the Coordinated Access and Employment Opportunities VISTA at Journey Home.
For the past 100 Days, homeless service providers all across Connecticut have been working in overdrive to meet the challenge of housing large numbers of homeless households in a short period of time. The campaign, led by the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness and Journey Home and facilitated by the Rapid Results Institute, was intended to put a renewed focus and energy on housing those experiencing homelessness by empowering teams of front line staff to revamp business as usual and challenging the way we think about and provide services to those experiencing homelessness. Last year providers in Greater New Haven saw such great success during their 100 Day Campaign that four more regions of Connecticut were motivated to take on their own 100 Day Challenge this spring. The people who work directly with clients every day were making decisions about how to revolutionize the system by thinking outside of the box and asking agencies to take on short term risks over the course of the 100 Days.
Wednesday, June 24 marked the official wrap-up of the campaign. In addition to celebrating the campaign’s success, this event included a Sustainability Review which challenged stakeholders from around the state to make a plan to continue the progress and momentum that resulted from the 100 Day Campaign.
Journey Home’s Matt Morgan kicked off the event by highlighting one of the major successes of the campaign. Regardless of the numbers of individuals housed, or systems change put into place, a true success of this campaign was the collective change in mindset. Communities all across Connecticut now truly believe that this can be done and that we can, by working in a targeted and collaborative way, end chronic homelessness in our state by the end of 2016.
Governor Malloy, who was in attendance, furthered this sentiment by saying he signed on to the Zero: 2016 campaign to end chronic homelessness in Connecticut by the end of 2016 “hoping” that we could do it, and after seeing the momentum and success of the 100 Day Campaigns, he now believed our state might actually achieve this goal. He went on to say, “Make no doubt about it – these efforts launched over the last few months are making a big impact in Connecticut, with results like we’ve never seen before.” And he was right- throughout the five regions of Connecticut that have completed 100 Day Campaigns, over 600 people were housed and over 130 more were matched to available housing units. “When all is said and done,” Governor Malloy said, “from all of the work done in that 100 Day Period, we’re actually going to be talking about…about 800, which is remarkable. You should be really proud.”
Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra also attended the event, proudly presenting the Greater Hartford 100 Day Team with an award for the progress made in and around the City.
This campaign called for staff from many agencies to put in extra hours, plan new kinds of events, pilot new roles and positions, and build new relationships with state and local agencies in the effort to assist those experiencing homelessness to get into housing. Over the course of the last 100 Days, some pretty astounding achievements have empowered our communities to change the way we provide services to some of our most vulnerable homeless neighbors. Here are some highlights:
- In Greater Hartford, over 40 agencies partnered to host a one-of-a-kind Document Fair to help clients obtain birth certificates, photo IDs, and other documents that are required to participate in supportive housing programs - all in one place, on one day. Over 150 clients were assisted at that event. As a result, 52 chronically homeless households were housed with another 46 matched to housing. Additionally,144 non-chronic households were housed over the 100 days.
- In Fairfield County, the time between a household calling 2-1-1 for help in a housing crisis and a household meeting one-on-one with a case manager was reduced from a wait time of over a month to only a few days.
- In Southeastern CT, 129 homeless individuals were housed over the course of the 100 days- more than one person each day!
- In Northeastern CT, 23 chronically homeless individuals, the region’s most vulnerable, were housed.
While everyone took the time to share in well-deserved mutual congratulations, the teams quickly set to work making a list of action steps the communities needed to take in the next months to make sure the momentum won’t be slowed even after the end of the official campaign. Each region was given the opportunity to present some statewide recommendations that they felt would assist with sustaining this progress in the months ahead. Recommendations included everything from adjusting reports in a database to working with local housing authorities to trying to establish a new job position for housing navigation.
Despite having to overcome obstacles, take new risks, and work harder and longer than maybe people thought was possible, we have proven to ourselves and to each other that it can be done. With unprecedented focus and collaboration in the eighteen months to come, we firmly believe Connecticut can be the first state to effectively end chronic homelessness by the end of 2016.
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