Homelessness

We’re in the Run to End Homelessness for the Long Haul

 

Nichole Guerra is a policy analyst at Partnership for Strong Communities.

I started at the Partnership in June 2012, just after the Reaching Home Campaign had relaunched and aligned itself with Opening Doors, the Federal Strategic Plan to end homelessness. Recently, I presented the campaign’s first annual progress report to the Reaching Home Steering Committee and provided an update on the state’s progress towards meeting the housing needs that would enable us to meet the goals in Opening Doors – CT.

In the days leading up to my presentation, my evening runs – much to my dismay – were consumed with thoughts about data and what that data indicate about meeting our goals in a time marked by dysfunction within our federal Congress. Despite the state’s and its communities’ collective efforts over the past year and a half, a recent statewide report concludes that Connecticut saw a 10% increase in homelessness since 2010.

For the first time ever, we have data to support what we’ve known anecdotally for too long—that one third of people in shelters - 3,006 people - have a disabling condition and have been in shelters or on the streets for longer periods of time. Additionally, the number of families experiencing homelessness since 2010 has increased by 9%, and homelessness amongst Veterans remains a challenge as more Veterans return home and fall on hard times.

By the end of these runs, I’d worry about delivering this discouraging news to those who are on the front lines fighting to end homelessness. Then I realized that as a state, we have uniquely positioned ourselves to move our homeless numbers closer to zero – despite political gridlock and fiscal constraint – by bridging fragmented systems, enhancing coordination, and developing research and evidence to tackle the unknowns.

Now is the time to change the way we solve this complex social problem. It's a long run, and we've already started.

Nichole Guerra is a policy analyst at Partnership for Strong Communities.

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