Connecticut Launches 100-Day Effort to End Homelessness
I was proud to stand with Connecticut Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman to support the March 9 launch of Connecticut’s 100-day effort across four communities to accelerate efforts to end homelessness. This exciting 100-day effort was brought together by the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness and Journey Home of Hartford. The Connecticut-based Rapid Results Institute, which developed the “100-Day” rapid results approach and has led similar efforts across the nation to successful outcomes, will facilitate. It is clear that Connecticut is successfully building its organizing efforts across the state that will feed momentum toward ending Veteran homelessness by 2015 and chronic homelessness by 2016.
Connecticut has mobilized advocates, activists, and service providers, together with support from state and federal officials, to forge new ways to coordinate and use existing resources more effectively to end homelessness in their communities. The HUD Field Office, led by Suzanne Piacentini, has been a key partner along with Dr. Laurie Harkness of the VA’s Errera Community Care Center. The Connecticut effort is a stand-out model, the first statewide implementation of the Rapid Results approach, with nearly the entire state participating. Participating communities include Greater Hartford, Fairfield County, and eastern Connecticut. Last year, a similar effort in New Haven led to the housing of 160 people who had long been experiencing homelessness in that community. In less than six months, this effort decreased that city’s chronically homeless population by more than 75 percent.
Earlier this year, Governor Dannel P. Malloy announced that Connecticut was one of six states that signed on the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness as well as one of four states chosen for Zero: 2016, a national initiative organized by the nonprofit Community Solutions. Governor Malloy and Lieutenant Governor Wyman are to be commended for leading the state and delivering a clear charge that Connecticut is making every effort to end homelessness. In a speech announcing the state’s participation in Zero: 2016, Governor Malloy stated, “Connecticut has the opportunity to be the first state in the union to end homelessness among our Veterans as well as chronic homelessness for people with disabilities within two years. Even though it’s a bold goal, it’s now within our reach. We’re taking the lead nationally on this issue not only because it’s good for our economy and makes our communities stronger, but because it’s morally right.”
At the same time, the Governor announced an expansion of existing permanent housing to help the state move toward that goal. Advocates in Connecticut have praised Governor Malloy for dedicating resources to housing and homelessness at a level that far exceeds the three governors who preceded him. He has also enlisted key state officials from the Department of Housing and the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services to help lead the statewide effort.
Connecticut’s 100-day initiative and Zero: 2016 efforts benefit from a strong coalition of supportive charitable partners who embrace these goals. The Beatrice Fox Auerbach Foundation Fund, Community Foundation of Eastern CT, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, Opening Doors of Fairfield County, and the United Ways of Coastal Fairfield County and Southeastern CT all came together to provide the funding to underwrite the work with Rapid Results Institute for the statewide 100-days effort. The Melville Charitable Trust, a stalwart champion and supporter of efforts to end homelessness in Connecticut and across the nation, provided over $55,000 of critically important, flexible funding for direct client assistance to each participating 100-day community.
Connecticut has already established a strong track record of setting the standard in innovative solutions to end homelessness. I am looking forward to supporting their progress as we see what these communities will accomplish within their first 100-day effort.
Robert Pulster is Regional Coordinator for USICH, based in Boston, Massachusetts.