Homelessness, Reports and Publications, Supportive Housing

Are We Making Progress on Reaching Home? Yes. But there’s More to be Done.

 

Christina Rubenstein, Partnership for Strong Communities deputy policy director

This year’s Reaching Home Campaign annual progress report describes a wide range of initiatives to end homelessness that are taking place throughout Connecticut. It also includes data showing that fewer households experienced homelessness in 2013 compared to 2012, including Veteran households, family households, individuals experiencing chronic homelessness and single adults.

At their core, the initiatives outlined in the report tackle long-standing issues: a lack of program flexibility to tailor resources to the individual needs of those experiencing homelessness; inadequate data systems; lack of coordination; challenges in connecting those experiencing homelessness to mainstream resources.

Most of the initiatives described in this year’s report are multi-year efforts that are coming to fruition, like the roll out of Coordinated Access, the completion of the HMIS conversion, increasing capacity to bill Medicaid for support services, development of a statewide Youth Count, prioritization of extremely low-income households in housing development programs, better targeting of resources for homeless Veterans, expansion of rapid re-housing, and increasing the flexibility of supportive housing funds.

And some efforts are just beginning, such as the new Reaching Home Chronic Homelessness workgroup, a pilot to link families receiving rapid re-housing with tailored employment services called Secure Jobs CT, introduction of the VI-SPDAT as a statewide assessment tool, registry weeks and 100-day challenges. This is not an exhaustive list; there are even more systemic changes being done to prevent and end homelessness.

The breadth of these initiatives is wide, encompassing key strategies identified under the Opening Doors-CT framework (retooling crisis response, healthcare and housing, economic security, affordable and supportive housing) and focusing on Opening Doors-CT’s target populations (Veterans, unaccompanied youth, individuals experiencing chronic homelessness, families).

I urge you to check out this year’s Reaching Home Progress Report  to appreciate the scope of all that we have accomplished in the past few years. Connecticut is fortunate to have dedicated individuals and organizations in multiple sectors working together and embracing the core values at the heart of Opening Doors-CT:

  • Homelessness is unacceptable. It is solvable and preventable.
  • There are no “homeless people,” but rather people who have lost their homes who deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.
  • Homelessness is expensive. Invest in solutions.  

Are we making progress? I think so but there is still much to do, so let’s continue to place the needs of those experiencing homelessness at the forefront and challenge ourselves to find solutions, to work together and to refuse to accept homelessness as a permanent condition in our communities.

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