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Announcements , Homelessness

May 2019 IForum: Meet the Speakers!

16 May 2019
Partnership for Strong Communities

Ending Family Homelessness:

A Look at Race, Equity, and Prevention Strategies

Monday, May 20th

The Lyceum, 227 Lawrence Street, Hartford, CT

Registration, light breakfast and conversation: 8:30am-9:00am

Event Program: 9:00 am -11:30am

Register here


Thank you to everyone who has registered for the May 2019 IForum, "Ending Family Homelessness: A Look at Race, Equity, and Prevention Strategies"! As the IForum draws closer, we'd like to introduce you to some of the local, statewide, and national speakers who will be presenting or speaking as part of our expert panel.

Before we introduce the speakers, a reminder that tickets for this IForum are going fast! Ticket sales will close at end of day Thursday, May 16, 2019. Over 190 people have already RSVPed, so if you want to reserve your FREE ticket, make sure to do so by clicking here.

An Introduction to Systemic Racism by

Catherine (Katie) Burton

Program Coordinator for School Programs and Student Stowe Prize, Harriet Beecher Stowe Center

Katie is Program Coordinator for School Programs and Student Stowe Prize, where she develops and facilitates a range of educational initiatives. Her work at the Stowe Center focuses on empowering young people to advocate for positive change through brave conversation, community engagement, and writing for social justice. Before joining the Stowe Center team, Burton taught college literature, writing, and publishing for ten years. She is passionate about the public humanities and believes in the power of words to change the world. Burton holds a Ph.D. in English from Lehigh University and an M.A. and B.A. in English from the University of Connecticut.


Family Voice: A Personal Story by

Shanta Wiley

Faces of Homelessness Speakers’ Bureau

"In 2011, I was serving with AmeriCorps, but it was very hard for me to focus on projects to serve my community when I needed a roof over my head for me and my kids.”

Shanta Wiley, 37, of Hartford, a single mother of boys ages 13 and 19, became homeless after her relationship ended and her family, who she had moved back in with, fell on hard times. She was intermittently homeless and cycling through substandard apartments between 2003 and 2012. Wiley earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration while working for the Hispanic Health Council. She also earned a credential in family development through the UConn School of Social Work. (Excerpted from the Hartford Courant)


Panel Discussion: Cross-System Views on Racial Equity and Homelessness

Amber Elliott, Panel Moderator

Community-based Improvement Advisor, Built For Zero, Community Solutions

Amber Elliott is the Community-based Improvement Advisor on the Built For Zero Team for Community Solutions and the former Housing Director for the North Hartford Partnership, where she works to dismantle the system impediments that create the precursors to homelessness and co-collaborate with agencies to bring forth agency to residents for them to create a neighborhood of choice. In her time as the Housing Director for the North Hartford Partnership she built the North Hartford Community Land Trust which is creating quality, healthy and affordable housing for the residents of North Hartford. Community Solutions is tasked with alleviating the precursors to homelessness through systems change and physical development. Prior to Community Solutions Amber worked for the Detroit Land Bank Authority, LISC , ArtSpace Projects Inc., and the City of Detroit. Amber is a graduate of Howard University and University of Michigan Law.


Liany Arroyo

Director, Department of Health and Human Services, City of Hartford

Liany Elba Arroyo is the Director of the Department of Health and Human Services for the City of Hartford. In this capacity, she oversees five divisions whose aim is to improve and protect the health of the City’s over 124,000 residents. She serves as the Principal Investigator for Hartford’s REACH program—the Hartford Healthy Family Initiative—a five year, nearly $4 million investment to connect communities of color with needed health and social resources that will increase access to healthy foods and physical activity opportunities, increase breastfeeding rates, and decrease tobacco use. Prior to coming to the City of Hartford, she was the Senior Director for Health Equity at Power To Decide (formerly The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy) where she ensured an equity lens was applied to the organization’s work. She also served as the organization’s Director of Partnerships focusing on creating equitable partnerships with Black and Latino communities nationally.


Nancy A. Hronek

Staff Attorney, Greater Hartford Legal Aid, Inc.

Nancy Hronek is an attorney with Greater Hartford Legal Aid and has spent her entire career representing low-income families and individuals in the Greater Hartford area. Her work in the Legal Aid Housing Unit emphasizes homeless prevention, and includes representing tenants in eviction actions and other landlord tenant issues, assisting public housing tenants and tenant organizations, and representing those who cannot access or who are threatened with the loss of federal and state housing subsidies. Nancy proudly serves on the Board of Directors of the Connecticut Fair Housing Center.


Mirtha Santana

Vice President, Empowerment, RiseBoro Community Partnership

As a long-time resident of the low-income community of Bushwick Brooklyn, Mirtha knows from personal experience the impact of affordable housing. Her commitment to homelessness prevention stems from her deep belief that no child should be sleeping in a homeless shelter. Mirtha joined RiseBoro Community Partnership in 2007 and immersed herself in services for low-income, disenfranchised and homeless families. She also held positions in community outreach and workforce development. In her tenure, Mirtha has grown the programming and services immensely and now holds the position of Vice President of Riseboro’s Empowerment Division. Mirtha oversees services that includes anti-eviction, homelessness prevention, rehousing, workforce development, rental assistance and benefits access, and youth mentorship. Her leadership is the driving force behind RiseBoro’s pursuit of excellence in social service provision, in which at all times she reinforces her dedication to a customer centered approach to all of staff, peers and clients.


Werner Oyanadel

Senior Commission Analyst, Commission on Equity & Opportunity

Mr. Oyanadel, born and raised in Santiago, Chile, is a highly experienced executive with a long history of public policy research and public administration with a specialization on issues of poverty and inequality in Connecticut. He is currently a Senior Commission Analyst for the Commission on Equity & Opportunity (CEO). CEO’s mission is to inform and engage all policy makers about constituent needs for the African American, Asian American, Pacific Islanders, and Latino and Puerto Rican populations in Connecticut.

Mr. Oyanadel is also the former Executive Director of the Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission (LPRAC) – an autonomous & non-partisan public policy agency responsible for providing advice to lawmakers on public policies that foster progress in the Latino community. Before Mr. Oyanadel started leading the work of LPRAC in the legislature, he served as a Legislative Analyst for LPRAC for almost a decade. He also served as a Legislative Assistant to several members of the House of Representatives and State Senate including legislative work for former State Senator Donald E. Williams, Jr., Former President Pro-Tempore. Mr. Oyanadel holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science with a concentration in Public Administration and a Minor in Philosophy and he is very proud of his military service in the federally recognized Connecticut Army National Guard.


Keynote Presentation by

Dr. Marybeth Shinn

Professor at Vanderbilt University

Marybeth Shinn is a Cornelius Vanderbilt professor at Vanderbilt University. Beth studies how to prevent and end homelessness and create opportunities for groups that face social exclusion. She was co-principal investigator of the Family Options Study, a 12-site experiment comparing the success of different strategies to house families experiencing homelessness. Conducted together with colleagues at Abt Associates, the study showed that offering long-term rental subsidies to families in homeless shelters not only ends homelessness for most but has radiating benefits for parents and children and reduces problems like substance abuse, domestic violence, and psychological distress that can sometimes cause homelessness. Qualitative interviews with 80 of the families across four sites helped to understand families’ experiences in the homeless service system, how they make housing decisions, and why so many parents become separated from their children.

With her students, Beth has helped New York City develop tools to direct homeless prevention services available through the HomeBase program to the people most likely to become homeless without them.

Past collaborations with community organizations and research institutes include an experimental study of the Pathways Housing First intervention with adults who experience both chronic homelessness and serious mental illness, a survey of older adults in poverty to understand why some become homeless, an evaluation of New York City's street count, studies of the overlap between the homeless service and child protective service systems and an experiment to determine whether a Family Critical Time intervention with rapid housing placements and transitional services fostered positive outcomes for children who were homeless with their families.

Beth serves on the Research Council for the National Alliance to End Homelessness and Nashville’s Homeless Planning Council and co-authored a National Academies report on Housing, Health, and Homelessness. Her book with Jill Khadduri on ending homelessness, In the Midst of Plenty, will be out soon.