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Advocates hope Connecticut stops 'piecing together' homeless response with $50 million from state

The Salvation Army Family and Youth Triage, located at 333 Homestead Ave in Hartford, is set to be a warming center as temperatures drop this weekend.
Tyler Russell
Connecticut Public
Cots at the Salvation Army Family and Youth Triage in Hartford.

Connecticut lawmakers are considering a $50 million investment in support of people experiencing homelessness. Part of the funding would support the state’s cold weather homeless response.

A public hearing held by the state Housing Committee taking up the proposal took place as temperatures began to dip below freezing.

“It will allow us a reliable source of funding, so that we’re not scrambling ... each winter to piece together our safety net, which keeps people off the streets during these dangerously cold months, which we’re experiencing right now,” said Amanda Gordon, a quality assurance and compliance director with a nonprofit organization called Community Housing Advocates.

Gordon said that on a recent night, a shelter her nonprofit runs had to turn away 10 people experiencing homelessness. When that happens, she explained, the organization contacts other shelters in the state that may have openings for those in need.

The legislation would also fund groups in the state’sCoordinated Access Network, where service providers work together to quickly help those in need to end homelessness.

Other proposals in front of the committee include protection for tenants experiencing family violence and a call to expand a mandate for municipalities to create fair rent commissions.

Right now, municipalities with 25,000 residents or more are supposed to have fair rent commissions. A new proposal would mandate that municipalities with a population of at least 10,000 create the commissions.

State Rep. Kara Rochelle (D-Ansonia, Derby) says she wants to ensure tenants have one commission in each town to protect them from skyrocketing rents.

“We have data that shows that more hedge funds and out-of-state landlords are coming in and buying these multi-families to make a profit without a concern for the dignity or the way of life for the local residents,” Rochelle said to her colleagues in the legislature Thursday.

Connecticut Public has asked Rochelle for the data on so-called large business landlords and will update this story if it’s received.

Local landlords also testified against the idea. Many of them said the fair rent commissions delay rent payments.

“There should be something put in these laws that will not allow somebody to basically take advantage of a landlord just because he raises the rent and then, tie him up for months and months in these hearings,” said August Miller, a 75-year-old landlord who spoke via Zoom.

One landlord from Enfield told lawmakers they weren’t creating more affordable housing — they’re just putting pressure on landlords.

Frankie Graziano is the host of The Wheelhouse, focusing on how local and national politics impact the people of Connecticut.

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