Since its creation in 1998 by the Melville Charitable Trust, the Partnership for Strong Communities initially focused on strategies to prevent and end homelessness. Since its incorporation as a separate 501 (c)(3) in 2004 the Partnership’s mission has expanded to foster additional affordable housing throughout the State and to support the development of strong and vibrant communities. It was in 2004 that the Partnership moved into the newly renovated Lyceum Resource and Conference Center.
From its inception until 2010, the Partnership’s first executive director, Diane Randall, helped to define the Partnership as a go-to institution for information on homelessness and affordable housing. In 2011, Howard Rifkin became executive director, and he was instrumental in expanding the depth and breadth of the Partnership. When Rifkin left in February 2014, then-deputy director Alicia Woodsby became interim executive director, and was named executive director in June 2014. Current Executive Director, Kiley Gosselin came on board in November, 2018.
In an effort to achieve our goals, the Partnership has three major campaigns: The Reaching Home Campaign, HOMEConnecticut, and the IForum Series.
In 2004, the Partnership was part of the statewide Steering Committee that launched the Reaching Home Campaign to address chronic homelessness through the creation of 10,000 units of permanent supportive housing. From 2004 through 2011, the Campaign focused on educating policymakers and the public about the effectiveness of permanent supportive housing in ending chronic homelessness and creating close to 5500 units of permanent supportive housing during this period.
In 2012, the Opening Doors – CT framework was agreed upon as a way to work across sectors and fully integrate our work to end homelessness within 5 years among veterans and the chronically homeless and within 10 years among families and children. While supportive housing is still a core function of the campaign, we also have come to understand that re-tooling the crisis intervention system, considering other housing options, integration with health care and economic security, are key elements to the systemic changes that can effectively end homelessness.
HOMEConnecticut is a statewide campaign staffed by the Partnership and aimed at increasing the state’s stock of affordable housing. One initiative, for example, encourages towns to create Incentive Housing Zones where developers can increase housing density in exchange for creating mixed-income housing in town centers and along mass transit corridors.
Created in 2009 as a medium to educate key decision makers, community leaders and the public on the connection between housing policy and other major public policy issues, the IForum series continues to ask difficult questions and to foster conversation about how the public and private sector can work together towards a mutual goal of solving key policy problems and enhancing Connecticut as a place where people want to live, work and raise a family.