Monthly Archive for: ‘July, 2015’
The housing and shelter collaborative known as the Greater Hartford Coordinated Access Network (GH CAN) has been meeting on a weekly basis for over a year. Their task has been to coordinate resources and services, which include about 60 housing programs and 12 emergency shelters. As if implementing these system-wide reforms was not enough, four months into operation, the GH CAN was preparing to embark on a campaign that would put its agencies, staff and newly formed partnerships to the test.
Lead in Greater Hartford by Journey Home and in other regions by Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness (CCEH), the 100-Day Campaign officially began on March 11. Greater Hartford’s goal was to house 100 of our highest need, chronically homeless clients by June 19th . If that goal sounds almost impossible, that’s because it was supposed to be. Committing to lofty, sometimes unreasonable goals is all part of the Rapid Results 100-day framework. The model is designed to use those commitments to unleash creative potential and forge new infrastructure for change. And that is exactly what happened. Continue Reading Here
It was 8 a.m. on a cloudless May morning, and already the heat was beginning to build on the asphalt outside Chrysalis Center’s Homestead Avenue headquarters. From the upper parking lot, a small army could be seen below assembling tables, erecting tents and carrying bunches of balloons to and fro. On the backs of their matching green t-shirts the word “volunteer” shone triumphantly, and on the front the day’s big question stood, waiting eagerly to be answered: “Are You Document Ready?”
That’s a question that many of our homeless neighbors have heard before in one form or another. In order to access most housing, clients must produce one or more identifying documents, such as a state issued photo I.D., birth certificate, Social Security card or disability verification. Unsurprisingly, after years on the streets and in shelters chronically homeless individuals are often missing one or all of these items. As an issue that frontline staff are all-too familiar with, it was decided early on during the 100-Day Campaign to Reduce Chronic Homelessness that document readiness needed to be addressed in a new way. Continue Reading Here
The gentle sounds of electric guitar waft toward the high ceilings of what was once Connecticut’s first Synagogue. Hebrew letters encircle a stained glass window, which casts a soft red glow on the gathering audience. This historic site is now home to Charter Oak Cultural Center, base of operations for Beat of the Street Newspaper and a range of other programs, “doing the work of social justice through the arts.” Tonight, it plays host to a very special graduation.
To get here, students complete at least 96 hours of courses at the Beat of the Street Center for Creative Learning, a school for people experiencing homelessness. On this night, five students now sit proudly waiting to receive their diplomas. One of those students is Joe Brodeur.
Joe is an active community member, and has worked with Journey Home on projects in the past. When I first met him he was helping to organize the 2014 homeless memorial, a yearly service honoring those who lost their lives while experiencing homelessness. Joe took the podium on December 21st, and spoke passionately about the injustice of homelessness and unnecessary loss of life. At the time the 32-year old was sleeping in a tent next to the Founders Bridge in East Hartford. Continue Reading Here
What are the things you think of when you reflect on home? Is it your cozy sofa? A favorite chair? Spending time in your kitchen cooking for friends and family? Snuggling up in your bed at the end of a long day? Home conjures up a myriad of thoughts and feelings. Our celebrations and our mournings often happen within its protected walls. For many of us, it’s our center. It is always there, welcoming us when we are tired and weary with its familiar smells and sounds.
With this understanding of home firmly etched into our beings, Journey Home set out this past spring to help create a home for the many newly housed within our community. We understand that providing a key is only the first step of the process. Making that empty apartment a home is a process and we wanted to help begin that process. Continue Reading Here
Journey Home is growing. We have been able to enlist more staff and make a bigger impact this yearthan ever before. Our growing strength is a credit to the Greater Hartford community that continues to show us such support, and this spring our community supported us in one of its favorite ways: golf!
Golf season arrived with the Greater Hartford Open; an annual tournament held at the TPC River Highlands course in Cromwell. This year, Journey Home was honored by the presenting sponsors, CT Commercial Real Estate Alliance and Winstanley Enterprises, as the beneficiary of the event. While enjoying exceptional food and world-class golf on June 8th, 100+ attendees were also helping to end homelessness in Greater Hartford. Continue Reading Here
In 2015 the Aerospace Employment Placement Program (AEPP) continues to pick up steam. Recently approved for a second year of funding through the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), this collaborative partnership between Journey Home, Goodwin College and Belcan Corporation has garnered praise in the business community and increasing interest from potential partners. Continue Reading Here
For the past 100 Days, homeless service providers all across Connecticut have been working in overdrive to meet the challenge of housing large numbers of homeless households in a short period of time. The campaign, led by the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness and Journey Home and facilitated by the Rapid Results Institute, was intended to put a renewed focus and energy on housing those experiencing homelessness by empowering teams of front line staff to revamp business as usual and challenging the way we think about and provide services to those experiencing homelessness. Last year providers in Greater New Haven saw such great success during their 100 Day Campaign that four more regions of Connecticut were motivated to take on their own 100 Day Challenge this spring. The people who work directly with clients every day were making decisions about how to revolutionize the system by thinking outside of the box and asking agencies to take on short term risks over the course of the 100 Days.
Wednesday, June 24 marked the official wrap-up of the campaign. In addition to celebrating the campaign’s success, this event included a Sustainability Review which challenged stakeholders from around the state to make a plan to continue the progress and momentum that resulted from the 100 Day Campaign.
Journey Home’s Matt Morgan kicked off the event by highlighting one of the major successes of the campaign. Regardless of the numbers of individuals housed, or systems change put into place, a true success of this campaign was the collective change in mindset. Communities all across Connecticut now truly believe that this can be done and that we can, by working in a targeted and collaborative way, end chronic homelessness in our state by the end of 2016.
Governor Malloy, who was in attendance, furthered this sentiment by saying he signed on to the Zero: 2016 campaign to end chronic homelessness in Connecticut by the end of 2016 “hoping” that we could do it, and after seeing the momentum and success of the 100 Day Campaigns, he now believed our state might actually achieve this goal. He went on to say, “Make no doubt about it – these efforts launched over the last few months are making a big impact in Connecticut, with results like we’ve never seen before.” And he was right- throughout the five regions of Connecticut that have completed 100 Day Campaigns, over 600 people were housed and over 130 more were matched to available housing units. “When all is said and done,” Governor Malloy said, “from all of the work done in that 100 Day Period, we’re actually going to be talking about…about 800, which is remarkable. You should be really proud.”
Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra also attended the event, proudly presenting the Greater Hartford 100 Day Team with an award for the progress made in and around the City.
This campaign called for staff from many agencies to put in extra hours, plan new kinds of events, pilot new roles and positions, and build new relationships with state and local agencies in the effort to assist those experiencing homelessness to get into housing. Over the course of the last 100 Days, some pretty astounding achievements have empowered our communities to change the way we provide services to some of our most vulnerable homeless neighbors. Here are some highlights:
- In Greater Hartford, over 40 agencies partnered to host a one-of-a-kind Document Fair to help clients obtain birth certificates, photo IDs, and other documents that are required to participate in supportive housing programs – all in one place, on one day. Over 150 clients were assisted at that event. As a result, 52 chronically homeless households were housed with another 46 matched to housing. Additionally,144 non-chronic households were housed over the 100 days.
- In Fairfield County, the time between a household calling 2-1-1 for help in a housing crisis and a household meeting one-on-one with a case manager was reduced from a wait time of over a month to only a few days.
- In Southeastern CT, 129 homeless individuals were housed over the course of the 100 days- more than one person each day!
- In Northeastern CT, 23 chronically homeless individuals, the region’s most vulnerable, were housed.
While everyone took the time to share in well-deserved mutual congratulations, the teams quickly set to work making a list of action steps the communities needed to take in the next months to make sure the momentum won’t be slowed even after the end of the official campaign. Each region was given the opportunity to present some statewide recommendations that they felt would assist with sustaining this progress in the months ahead. Recommendations included everything from adjusting reports in a database to working with local housing authorities to trying to establish a new job position for housing navigation.
Despite having to overcome obstacles, take new risks, and work harder and longer than maybe people thought was possible, we have proven to ourselves and to each other that it can be done. With unprecedented focus and collaboration in the eighteen months to come, we firmly believe Connecticut can be the first state to effectively end chronic homelessness by the end of 2016.