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CT homeless shelters are preparing for winter, but state funding isn’t enough

A man takes cover under an umbrella as snow comes down in the Fair Haven neighborhood of New Haven, Connecticut in Feb., 2021.
Ryan Caron King
Connecticut Public
A man takes cover under an umbrella as snow comes down in the Fair Haven neighborhood of New Haven, Connecticut in Feb., 2021.

In Hartford, in the chapel of the transitional housing center St. Elizabeth House, half a dozen state legislators gathered Friday to lament over insufficient funding for the homeless population as winter approaches.

The homeless population in Connecticut has risen 13%year-over-year, according to Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness Chief Executive Officer Sarah Fox.

During the last legislative session, homelessness service providers sought $50 million to aid Connecticut’s steep increase in homelessness.

Ultimately, $5 million was awarded for this winter’s services and to boost the state’s 2-1-1 response system. The funds have not yet been released by the state Department of Housing.

State leaders said the existing homeless support funds are insufficient to last through the upcoming winter.

Republican State Rep. Jay Case who represents Connecticut’s 63rd District of Winchester, Colebrook and Torrington, is on the board of his local winter shelter. The unreleased $5 million is impeding the Torrington area cold weather shelter from preparing for its November opening, Case said.

“We're less than two months away from opening, and we don't have money to rent the place yet,” Case said. “We still have to put that place together. We have to get the fire inspections. We have to get the health inspector. We have a lot of inspections that take a long time to do.”

Sarah Fox.
Abigail Brone
Connecticut Public
Sarah Fox.

A date for the funds release has not yet been announced, and legislators aren’t sure what the state will do when the $5 million runs out.

The funds will be released soon, but had to go through a lengthy governmental process, Department of Housing Deputy Commissioner Brandon McGee said. To bolster the state’s homelessness response, the state is releasing several hundred additional housing vouchers to provide aid for qualifying families.

There are currently an estimated 40 families and 500 individuals are currently sleeping outdoorsaccording to Fox. More than 3,800 Connecticut residents are experiencing homelessness, including 480 children.

Abigail is Connecticut Public's housing reporter, covering statewide housing developments and issues, with an emphasis on Fairfield County communities. She received her master's from Columbia University in 2020 and graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2019. Abigail previously covered statewide transportation and the city of Norwalk for Hearst Connecticut Media. She loves all things Disney and cats.

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