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 was still a core function of the campaign, we came 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.
In November 2019, the Campaign begun to embark on its third phase of work, which included the launch of a new statewide goal to make all homelessness in Connecticut rare, brief, and non-recurring, along with work to implement a new streamlined structure with a core area of focus on preventing individuals and families from becoming homeless by partnering with and helping to drive change in other systems.
Reaching Home operated as the campaign to build the political and civic will to prevent and end homelessness in Connecticut. With the vision that no one should experience homelessness, that no one should be without a safe, stable place to call home, Reaching Home embraced the following core values:
- 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.
The Campaign was made up of a dynamic community of stakeholders drawing together around the singular mission of ending homelessness in Connecticut. With more than 200 partners across 120 organizations representing a variety of sectors the Reaching Home Campaign developed policies, elicited community support and resources to bring an end to homelessness in Connecticut.
To achieve this goal, we focused on:
- Ensuring identification of all people experiencing homelessness, prevent unsheltered homelessness, and ensure that people don’t enter homelessness in the first place.
- Continuing to increase the number of people exiting homelessness into stable housing and reduce the length of time people stay homeless.
- Strengthening supports to individuals and families that help them to maintain housing stability by fostering income growth and employment success, so that they don’t ever have to return to homelessness again.
- Learning from and meaningfully partner with people who have experienced homelessness, with a focus on equity.
Important Update Regarding Reaching Home And Partnership For Strong Communities
With the support of our board of directors, funders, and major partners—the Partnership is concluding our formal work supporting Reaching Home.
Since 1998, Partnership for Strong Communities has worked to ensure that everyone in Connecticut has a safe, stable, affordable home, in an equitable community of their choice where they can thrive. From its establishment, the Partnership has focused on strategies to prevent and end homelessness, later expanding our work to address the full continuum of housing insecurity and the state’s need for more affordable housing.
Our work to solve homelessness has centered around the Reaching Home Campaign, launched by the Partnership in 2004, with the goal of ending chronic homelessness in Connecticut. In 2012, the Partnership led Reaching Home in implementing a “Collective Impact” approach to this mission—coordinating the efforts of more than 200 cross-sector partners to build the political and civic will to address the complex social problem of homelessness in Connecticut.
Over the past 18 years, Reaching Home has increased collaboration among stakeholders, developed focused and broadly supported policy agendas, leveraged a record of success to drive increases in public and private funding, and—most importantly—helped to drastically reduce the number of people experiencing homelessness in our state. Some of Reaching Home’s most notable achievements include the creation of a state Interagency Council on Supportive Housing that resulted in the creation of more than 7,000 units, implementation of Opening Doors—Connecticut’s Framework for Preventing and Ending Homelessness, and the Zero:2016 initiative to end veteran and chronic homelessness. In 2016, Connecticut became the second state federally certified as having ended veteran homelessness. In 2017, Reaching Home supported the creation and launch of Connecticut’s Coordinated Access Network system, streamlining both the entry to and exit from the homeless crisis response.
Since the inception of Reaching Home in 2004, there has been a 51% decrease in the annual point in time count of persons experiencing homelessness in Connecticut. Since 2012, the number of people accessing the homeless services system each year has decreased by more than 60%.
From the beginning, we have known that the primary solution to homelessness is housing —specifically deeply affordable and accessible housing coupled with support services to help individuals and families stay housed. Connecticut’s rising cost of housing, coupled with our inadequate housing stock, make it extremely difficult for our lowest-income households to access and maintain housing. More than 200,000 Connecticut households spend more than 30% of their income on housing, and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color are disproportionately experiencing housing insecurity across our state. Housing insecurity takes many forms: paying too much of one’s income for housing, living with family or friends to share costs, living in overcrowded or substandard housing, living in unsafe or disinvested neighborhoods, experiencing eviction or a forced move, and at its worst, literal homelessness. We know that until we effectively address affordable housing issues in Connecticut, even the best efforts to end homelessness will fall short.
With steadfast commitment to our core mission, we are sharpening our focus on preventing housing insecurity and homelessness by addressing the urgent issues with affordable housing in Connecticut. As an organization that drives effective advocacy, advances original research, and brings together coalitions to compel political and social change, we are:
- Doubling down on policy analysis and coordinated advocacy to increase affordable housing, support equitable affordable housing policy, and advance housing justice;
- Increasing our capacity for affordable housing research and education;
- Strengthening our statewide convening around affordable housing through HOMEConnecticut using a Collective Impact approach.
There is still more work to do to end homelessness in Connecticut and our partner the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness (CCEH) is assuming leadership of this work in its next phase. Each of our organizations brings specific skills and capacities to housing and homelessness work, and the Partnership and CCEH will continue to align our efforts to ensure that every Connecticut resident has a safe, stable, affordable home.
We look forward to the path ahead. If you have questions about this shift, please reach out to Chelsea Ross, or any of us at the Partnership.