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Affordable Housing , Community Development , Homelessness , Supportive Housing

Zero: 2016 CT CAN-a-Palooza Energizes Effort to End Chronic Homelessness

24 May 2016
Partnership for Strong Communities

Sarah Fox, Director of Advocacy and Community Impact, CT Coalition to End Homelessness and Cindy Dubuque, Reaching Home Campaign Manager, Partnership for Strong Communities.

Since January 2015, Connecticut has housed 780 individuals experiencing chronic homelessness and has reduced chronic homelessness by 20%, according to data released this May by the CT Coalition to End Homelessness. This was part of the message the Linda Kaufman, manager of national movements from Community Solutions, came to share with frontline staff and leaders during a three-day, five-event tour across the state known as CAN-a-Palooza.

“No one is safe from my enthusiasm,” said Kaufman as she showed a picture of Ed Givens, who lived on skid-row for 30 years before being housed. She carries a laminated picture of Mr. Givens, both before and after receiving housing, as a reminder of why she does this work. Utilizing a housing first approach is essential to ending chronic homelessness; someone doesn’t get a home because they are clean and sober for 90 days, they get housed because they are the most vulnerable, Kaufman noted. By prioritizing those most in need, we are helping those who are the most vulnerable get their lives back.  At the same time, we are saving public funds:  those experiencing chronic homelessness tend to cycle in and out of expensive public services (like emergency rooms, in-patient hospitalization, and jails). Studies from across the nation show that providing housing and supports can save communities 70% in costs. 

The three days of events brought together staff from each of Connecticut’s eight Coordinated Access Networks (CANs) to celebrate their progress and to discuss strategies to quickly move their neighbors into housing.   All eight are working to identify individuals experiencing chronic homelessness by their names and to prioritize those individuals for services and housing resources. “Chronic homelessness” means that someone has experienced long-term or repeated homelessness for an extended period of time, usually 12 months, and has a severe disability. However, one of the challenges facing communities is the availability of landlords and eligible rental units for housing, to provide housing options for those who are in need.

Connecticut’s effort to end chronic homelessness encompasses two-hundred plus organizations working in a coordinated system.  It has taken a lot of practice, but people are getting housed, and with the help of our communities supporting our efforts, we will end chronic homelessness by the end of this year!

Click here to view a collage of photos from the weeks events.

Click here to read previous blogs.