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CT homeless shelters request $20 million in new state budget

The Salvation Army Family and Youth Triage in Hartford will follow their cold weather protocols and act as a warming center for families and children as temperatures drop.
Tyler Russell
/
Connecticut Public
The Salvation Army Family and Youth Triage in Hartford will follow their cold weather protocols and act as a warming center for families and children as temperatures drop.

With hundreds of Connecticut residents sleeping outdoors, homeless service providers seek additional funds from the state legislature.

Homeless shelters and advocates are requesting $20 million in the upcoming state budget to bolster services to assist unhoused residents.

Last year, providers requested $50 million from the state legislature. They were granted $5 million.

Kadeem Roberts, a Democratic State Rep. from Norwalk, said he supports the $20 million amount but emphasized that it may take more funding to really make a difference in the lives of those who are homeless.

“To everybody in the room, everybody watching, you guys go home, sleep comfortable. But, I still go back to where I grew up in and they don’t sleep comfortable. There’s a lot of people out there wanting these services,” Roberts said.

Statewide there are about 800 people sleeping outdoors each night, according to Democratic State Rep. Eleni Kavros DeGraw.

The number of homeless Connecticut residents reached about 1,500 in the fall, but was tempered by the opening of seasonal cold-weather shelters, Kavros DeGraw said.

Homeless service providers and state lawmakers gathered in Hartford Monday to address the need for more funding ahead of the legislative session that began Wednesday morning.

Even with housing choice vouchers, low-income residents remain unable to find affordable housing options that fit into their budgets, leaving the vouchers to go unused and expire, Republican State Rep. Jay Case said.

Solving homelessness in Connecticut is solely about funding availability, Kara Capone, CEO of Community Housing Advocates Inc., said.

“We know how to end homelessness. What we are lacking are the resources and will to provide those resources,” Capone said. “Instead year after year we’ve been told that the need is too great and the funding is just too limited.”

Five people in Connecticut have died this winter while living outdoors, Capone said.

Update: Agencies testify at public hearing

CT homelessness advocates ask for additional state funding

Agencies that work with the homeless population in Connecticut spoke Feb. 23 at a public hearing and asked for additional funding.

Kara Capone, CEO of Community Housing Advocates, said her group and others struggle with staffing turnover due to low wages.

“It's just poor quality of service for the folks that we serve, who constantly have to deal with trying to work with and bond with a new case manager or a new support service provider,” Capone said.

Matt Morgan is executive director of Journey Home.

“Our shelter system should operate more like an emergency room in a hospital with people flowing in and out quickly,” he told lawmakers. “But, unfortunately, it's clogged because we do not have enough rental assistance to get people out and homeless prevention services to prevent people from falling into homelessness.”

Agencies say that while funding has increased in recent years, it’s not been enough money to keep up with the increase in demand as people experiencing homelessness in Connecticut continues to rise.

Connecticut Public's Eric Aasen contributed to this report, which has been updated.

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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