Zero: 2016 CT Summit Offers Inspiring Look at Next Steps




Sarah Fox is the Manager of Advocacy and Community Impact Iniatives at the CT Coalition to End Homelessness. Christy Rubenstein is the Deputy Policy Director at the Partnership for Strong Communities. 

Last week, we were once again inspired by Connecticut’s commitment to ending chronic homelessness by 2017. This inspiration came at the Zero: 2016 CT Summit that brought together over 170 representatives from service providers, housing agencies, advocacy organizations, philanthropic organizations and state and federal agencies to consider what we’ve accomplished thus far and plan out next steps. The commitment that inspired us came from everyone in the room. There were great comments and remarks from state and national leaders, including CT’s Governor Dan Malloy, Department of Housing Commissioner Klein, Marcy Thompson at HUD, USICH’s Bob Pulster, Community Solutions’ Linda Kaufman. But most important was the commitment shown by those working on the ground to house those experiencing homelessness every day, who hunched over sticky pads well into the afternoon, writing our specific steps that their communities must take to end chronic homelessness.

Connecticut has made great strides in the last year in our efforts to work more collaboratively and to use our limited resources more effectively. There are people like us, who work at the state level to help pave the way and secure resources to make this work possible. But, at the end of the day, this work just can’t happen without the deep commitment of those who work day in and day out with Connecticut’s most vulnerable residents. This isn’t easy work and yet it happens. Every day. In fact, it even happened on that day at the Hartford Public Library as one man who was experiencing homelessness asked about the event and was subsequently introduced to service providers who engaged in outreach right then and there.

On top of all of that we ask communities to do every day to house our most vulnerable residents, we want to get better at what we do. We want to create a system that truly meets the needs. To that end, service providers, housing agencies, government agencies, philanthropies, etc, are stepping up to provide resources and staffing to help make the state’s Coordinated Access Networks (CANs) become effective tools for meeting the needs of those experiencing homelessness.

Over the last two months, CAN teams worked together to create or update their by-name lists of those experiencing homelessness in their communities and to deliver a common assessment tool to better understand their needs. Last week’s Summit was an opportunity for CAN team members to think about what comes next. What systems need to be changed or tweaked? What creative ideas can be implemented to identify new housing resources? How can different organizations collaborate to reduce duplication of effort and strengthen the team’s work?

We heard lots of great ideas and strategies and we can’t wait to work with communities throughout the state to implement them and to share our successes and lessons learned. Ending chronic homelessness won’t easy and there’s a lot of work ahead, but working as a team we in Connecticut can and will reach our goal. 

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