Through your participation in #GivingTuesday, you are helping to change lives throughout Connecticut.
I’d like to introduce you to one of those individuals whose life has been greatly impacted by generous supporters like you. His name is Andrea, and he is a Veteran of the U.S. Army.
In his youth, Andrea was in and out of foster care, group homes, sometimes staying temporarily with a parent or sibling but never able to stay for long because all of them were dealing with their own terrible struggles. As Andrea aged out of the system, this hard-working, passionate young man did whatever he could to survive, sometimes sleeping in the back room of his workplace, or on the rain-soaked sofa of an abandoned apartment building infested with rats and roaches. He had always worked hard, mostly in retail stores, and he spent a year in college but was unable to finish without stable housing. The only light that Andrea saw was to enlist in the military, where he knew he’d receive “three meals each day, shelter, clothing, training, an opportunity to travel, and stability.”
In the military, Andrea was stationed in Germany and later deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq. During his service, he was injured and could no longer speak as he had before and suffered from PTSD. After an overwhelming experience dealing with paperwork and undergoing tests, he was given an honorable medical discharge, put on a plane and returned to Connecticut, with no real plan for what to do next.
This was no smooth transition, as homelessness became a way of life once again. Eventually, he was connected to the VA and was paired with a counselor, provided with healthcare and a section 8 HUD-VASH voucher for supportive housing. The VA assisted tremendously, as he enthusiastically explained, “I was glad that people were able to help me in my time of need; without them, I wouldn’t be right here right now.” Andrea now has a part time job, volunteers at the VA and because he is earning enough at his job, he has voluntarily given up his Section 8 voucher to make it available to someone who is in greater need.
Andrea’s story is one of remarkable determination and hard work – one showing significant strength in the face of adversity.
By supporting the Partnership for Strong Communities and Reaching Home, the campaign to build the political and civic will to prevent and end homelessness in Connecticut, YOU are changing the lives of people just like Andrea.
Support us on this #GivingTuesday as we and our many partners across the state work tirelessly to end chronic homelessness by the end of 2016.
A Year in Review
September 8, 2016
The collaboration, coordination, and commitment toward a shared vision among all of the partners involved in the Reaching Home Campaign are proving the value of collective impact. We are seeing tremendous results from breaking down silos, and creating consensus. Advocacy, leadership, continuous communication, and data driven approaches, are also moving the needle toward our goals. The Reaching Home Campaign launched Opening Doors CT in January 2012, with the aim of finishing the job of ending chronic and veteran homelessness in five years and homelessness among families with children and youth in ten years. It continues to bring partners together and drive collective initiatives forward that are bringing us closer to a Connecticut where homelessness is rare, brief, and nonrecurring for all those who live here.
Major Milestones. The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness announced that Connecticut was the first state to end chronic homelessness among Veterans in August 2015 and the second state to end all homelessness among Veterans in February 2016. CT annual data shows a 57% reduction in chronic homelessness over the last two years. CT’s 2016 Point-in-Time count shows significant declines in chronic homelessness (long term homelessness with a severe disability) — the number dropped by 20% since 2015. Connecticut is on track to effectively end all chronic homelessness by the end of this year.
Advocacy Agenda. In the worst state fiscal environment in recent memory, Reaching Home Campaign partners have been extremely efficient and creative in identifying resources to meet the needs of the housing assistance system. As a result of our efforts and progress, the Administration and legislature did their best to preserve critical resources necessary to prevent and end homelessness, in particular for the Zero 2016 efforts to end all chronic homelessness by the end of this year. The Homeless Prevention and Response Fund will be an important source of subsidy that can be utilized for scattered-site supportive housing and rapid rehousing. The fund will complement new Section 811 units and the Section 8 preference, which will designate 30% of the turnover of vouchers to people leaving permanent supportive housing to create space for those experiencing chronic homelessness. In addition, the Campaign was successful in securing 50 additional units of supportive housing from the CT Housing Finance Authority. The Campaign’s Coordinated Access Network (CAN) Leadership subgroup’s proposal to the Department of Housing for support was granted in FY ’16.
Zero: 2016. In Connecticut, hundreds of providers and community stakeholders across the state, along with state, federal, and local government partners, and Governor Malloy have united to end chronic homelessness by the end of the year. Zero: 2016 Connecticut is a targeted initiative to help meet this goal within Opening Doors-CT. The initiative aims to identify each person experiencing chronic homelessness by name and prioritize them based on vulnerability, and to streamline a coordinated response system capable of ending all homelessness. Since January 2015, Connecticut has housed 780 individuals experiencing chronic homelessness thus far.
Unaccompanied Youth. The Reaching Home Youth and Young Adult Homelessness Workgroup is actively implementing first phase priorities from the Opening Doors for Youth Plan. In the past year, these efforts have resulted in the identification of a common assessment tool to be implemented statewide to assess the needs of homeless youth and prioritize resources; 2) work with local communities to share the Plan and to establish local area leaders to provide services for youth and assist with the 2017 Youth Count; and 3) creation of a process for routing calls from the 211 call center for runaway and homeless youth providers. The Workgroup also partnered with a group of youth researchers with lived experience to figure out how to improve access to information and referral services for youth, and will work to integrate their recommendations into the crisis response system in the coming months. In addition, the Campaign is working with the Tow Youth Justice Institute and the state’s Juvenile Justice Policy Oversight Council on the interconnections between criminal justice involvement and homelessness among youth and young adults.
Health Care and Housing Stability. Connecticut was selected by the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to participate in an innovative technical assistance effort, known as the Medicaid Innovation Accelerator Program. This effort is aimed at strengthening state-level collaboration between health and housing agencies to bring to scale supportive housing by coordinating housing resources with Medicaid-covered housing related services.
The second phase of the Opening Doors Hospital Initiative launched in early January 2016. A partnership between the Partnership for Strong Communities, CT Hospital Association, DMHAS, DSS, Beacon Health, the Institute for Community Research, and multiple Community Care Team partners to better track homelessness and improve discharge planning within the health care system, reduce the frequent use of emergency departments as a source of primary health care for people experiencing homelessness and improve their health outcomes. Many individuals experiencing homelessness rely on the emergency medical system, resulting in disjointed care that costs the system millions of dollars each year.
Lastly, the evaluation of the Social Innovation Fund (SIF), a pilot program that provides permanent supportive housing and care coordination to 160 Medicaid recipients in Connecticut with high costs and needs, is showing significant observable impacts after the first 12 months -- such as increased housing stability, improved access to care, and reductions in hospitalizations and use of urgent medical care.
Families with Children. In April 2016, the Campaign established a Family Economic Security Workgroup to focus on the goal of ending family homelessness. Campaign leaders from programs in housing, child welfare, early childhood, social services, health, runaway and homeless youth, the United Way, domestic violence, and crisis response participate on the workgroup. The group was launched on the heels of the “Next Frontier: Ending Family Homelessness” IForum, which presented national best practices for preventing and ending family homelessness, highlighted the preliminary findings of the estimated cost of family homelessness in Connecticut, and discussed state and local programs and initiatives.
Secure Jobs CT, a two-year pilot to increase the income of families exiting homelessness by connecting them to education, training, and other supports they need to find and maintain employment, is up and running in all five regions. The Secure Jobs CT Advisory Committee continues to monitor the Secure Jobs pilot’s progress and identify needs, resources, and gaps in services. The mid-year evaluation showed that 50 clients with a total of 139 members of families were enrolled in the pilot. Client populations varied by region, particularly in the areas of status of employment upon enrollment, length homeless prior to rapid re-housing, and need for supports at rapid re-housing enrollment.