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Connecticut First State to End Chronic Homelessness among Veterans

(HARTFORD, CT)- Governor Dannel P. Malloy today announced that the State of Connecticut has been designated by the federal government as being the first state in the nation to have ended chronic homelessness among veterans.11144900_10153646691029309_9062620930823983279_n

Last year, Governor Malloy announced several initiatives aimed at combatting veteran homelessness with the goal of ending homelessness among veterans by the end of 2015.  The state has since made major investments in housing, becoming a national leader for its work.

Ending chronic homelessness among veterans is a milestone for Connecticut in its efforts to end homelessness entirely among veterans by the end of the year.  Connecticut is one of just a handful of states designated for, and participating in, the Zero:2016 initiative, which aims to end all chronic homelessness by the end of next year.  Today’s announcement means that all known veterans experiencing chronic homelessness are either housed or are on an immediate path to permanent housing, and that the state will be able to rapidly place any veteran who newly experiences chronic homelessness on the path to permanent housing.  Chronic homelessness is defined as an individual with a disability who has been homeless for a period of at least one year or has experienced four separate episodes of homelessness in the past three years.

“We have set a high bar – and with today’s announcement, we’re on our way to achieving it. We are truly a national leader on these issues, because our veterans deserve access to housing, quality health care, education, and career opportunities.  It’s our obligation to deliver for them, and that’s just what we’re doing as a state,” Governor Malloy said.  “We established this bold goal to end homelessness among our veterans not because it’s good for our economy and makes communities stronger, but because it’s morally right.  Ending chronic veteran homelessness is just another step forward and another marker of progress towards reaching our goal of ending all veteran homelessness by the end of this year.”

“President Obama has made a bold goal to end veteran homelessness by the end of this year, and states and cities across the country are committed to making sure every Veteran has a safe and stable place to call home.  Here in Connecticut, you’ve responded to that challenge by helping the most vulnerable homeless Veterans find permanent housing,” U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald said.  “Americans understand and believe, as I do, that no one who has fought for this country should have to fight to keep a roof over their head.  This progress would not be possible without the partnerships that have been built here in Connecticut and across the nation; partnerships across the federal government, with state and local governments, with non-profit organizations and with the private sector.  This is not a static challenge; it is an ongoing challenge and we will keep at it because that is what the men and women who have served our nation have earned and deserve.”

Connecticut reached this milestone through the coordinated leadership of the Reaching Home Veterans Workgroup, an unprecedented collaboration among key stakeholders around this state, which includes: the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Connecticut Department of Housing (DOH), the Connecticut Heroes Project (CTHP), the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Connecticut’s Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) grantees, the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness (CCEH), the Connecticut Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA), and the Partnership for Strong Communities – all working together with other community-based providers.

“The historic work being done in Connecticut to combat homelessness, especially among veterans, is having a tremendous impact on people’s lives,” Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman said.  “We are committed to ensuring that veterans and their families who are in need have access to the programs and services that will help rebuild their lives, rejoin the workforce, and successfully establish themselves in our communities.”

The designation by the federal government comes in response to the state’s application to the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, which was reviewed by the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and other federal agencies and organizations after a report was submitted in June.  During the 2015 point-in-time count, only 41 veterans experiencing homelessness were counted on the streets or in other places not intended for habitation – a decrease of 45 percent since the last unsheltered count in 2013.

Through Connecticut’s efforts, nearly 300 veterans previously experiencing chronic homelessness have been permanently housed. The primary resource for housing veterans experiencing chronic homelessness are vouchers provided through the Department of Housing and Urban Development-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program.  The HUD-VASH program combines rental assistance from HUD with case management and clinical services from the VA.  Connecticut applied for and received 54 additional HUD-VASH vouchers in the fall of 2014 and also received another 75 vouchers this past spring 2015, bringing our statewide total to 755.  The federal rental assistance provided through this partnership are in addition to the state RAP vouchers that have been set-aside for veteran use.

Connecticut’s recent investments in affordable housing totals almost one billion dollars.  Since 2011, the state has created 6,150 affordable housing units, with an additional 2,908 affordable units under construction, and another 5,255 additional units committed to funding.

“Governor Malloy has been a tireless advocate for the homeless community and I am proud that he has made housing such a central part of his administration,” Connecticut Department of Housing Commissioner Evonne Klein said.  “We are fortunate in Connecticut to have built a strong collaboration of partners all working together to end veteran homelessness.  What we know is that when we address an individual’s housing needs it will have a lasting and positive impact on that person’s overall well-being for years to come.”

Connecticut Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Sean Connolly said, “This is a proud moment for Connecticut Veterans as the culmination of hard work and true determination by our leadership has brought us to this point in history where we have ended chronic Veteran homelessness in the state.  We will continue collaboration efforts and approach Veteran homelessness with a multipronged strategy of support services, keeping in mind the very real and very attainable goal to end it once and for all.”

“This important milestone reflects a remarkable and relentless commitment to combating veteran homelessness and marks a significant step.  I commend the advocates and leaders who made it possible,” U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal said.  “But now is not the time to rest on our laurels or unfurl a ‘mission accomplished’ banner – we must recommit to continuing this fight together.  Combating the underlying causes of homelessness – lack of jobs, skill training, health care, particularly treatment for post-traumatic stress and other invisible wounds of war – remains an unaccomplished goal.  We can, and will, do more to help our veterans.”

“Today’s announcement is the result of years of hard work on the ground to end chronic homelessness among veterans,” U.S. Senator Chris Murphy said.  “We’ve come a long way from when I brought federal officials to Waterbury in 2009 to show them that veterans were living under bridges and in the woods.  This is a significant victory for the state of Connecticut.  We invested our resources in the right programs – from the HUD-VASH and other federal programs, to better access to health care and social services – and we have proven that when federal and state policymakers collaborate with service providers and advocates, the outcomes can be life-changing.  Ending chronic homelessness for veterans has been a top priority for me since I was first elected to Congress, because the brave men and women of our armed forces – who have served and sacrificed for our country – should never be without a home.  I’ve always said that one homeless veteran is one too many, and today’s announcement means that this goal has become closer to a reality.  Connecticut’s story of success should be a model to end chronic veterans homelessness across America.”

“No one deserves to live without housing – especially our veterans.  They have sacrificed so much for the safety of our nation, and it is our moral obligation to ensure they receive the support they need when they come home,” Congressman John Larson (CT-1) said.  “I commend Governor Malloy, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development for their commitment to our veterans.  Never before has any state been able to declare an end to chronic veteran homelessness.  This is a historic moment, and one that makes me incredibly proud to call Connecticut home.”

“Ensuring that no veteran goes without housing after returning home from the battlefield is part of the sacred compact we have with those who defend our freedom.  Governor Malloy and the State of Connecticut deserve praise for their dogged efforts to earn this significant designation,” Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-2) said.  “This is a vital issue on which Connecticut leaders will maintain their vigilance, and I will continue my efforts in this field, which included working with veterans advocates for supportive housing in Jewett City.”

“As a nation, we have an obligation to ensure that, at the very least, the brave men and women who serve our country have a place to call home,” Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-3) said.  “We have to be sure we are doing everything possible to facilitate the smoothest possible transition from the battlefield to civilian life.  It makes our communities stronger, gives families a solid foundation and is the moral thing to do.  Today’s announcement is thanks to the people in Connecticut who are working tirelessly to end veteran homelessness.”

“Today’s announcement is great news for Connecticut’s veterans that put their lives on the line to protect our country and way of life.  We know that with safe, stable housing in place, these brave men and women will get the healthcare, education and jobs they have earned and deserve,” Congressman Jim Himes (CT-4) said.  “Connecticut has taken a bold and comprehensive approach to fighting homelessness, setting ambitious goals and working across all levels of government, housing authorities and private organizations to reach them.  I applaud Governor Malloy on today’s achievement and commit to working tirelessly until all veterans live in a place they can call home.”

“In Connecticut, we are doing the right thing for our veterans who have suffered with chronic homelessness, and I commend Governor Malloy for making this critical issue a key priority,” Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty (CT-5) said.  “Today’s news marks a historic turning point for our state and for our veterans.  Our veterans have sacrificed so much serving our country, and they deserve access to benefits that they have earned, including housing and high-quality healthcare.  In Congress, I will continue working to ensure that all veterans have the support they need to live healthy, successful lives.”

“Today we are celebrating what can happen when federal, state and communities work together to better care for our citizens,”Dr. Laurie Harkness, Founder and Director of VA Connecticut Healthcare System’s Errera Community Care Center, said.  “VA CT and its homeless programs have been and are pleased to be working with such a rich array of accomplished and committed partners to address the disgraceful issue of homelessness among our country’s Veterans.  We are proud of our results as we again lead the country in addressing complicated social issues.”

(From the office of Governor Dannel P. Malloy)

Dinner in the Park!

cfiles56368Journey Home is hitting Bushnell Park on August 30th with friends Arugula BistroSalute Restaurant , Whole Foods Market and Starbucks Coffee to provide a free meal for those in need.

Learn more about how you can support this event.

100 Day Campaign: A Success

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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

First Homeless Document Fair Makes Big Impact

5W2A6779It 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

Not Your Average Joe

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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

Home: The Nicest Word There Is

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

Community Support Keeping Journey Home up to Par!

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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

Aerospace Employment Placement Program Partners with CT Center for Advanced Technology

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

Hartford’s 100-Days: Just the Beginning

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.

100-Day Effort to End Homelessness: Mission Accomplished

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Hartford (June 18, 2015) — More than 460 people have found stable and secure housing as a result of statewide Rapid Results 100-Day Challenges to End Homelessness in five regions across Connecticut.

Four challenges launched on March 9, and involved teams from Greater Hartford, Fairfield County, southeastern Connecticut and northeastern Connecticut. These teams joined the effort started last year in New Haven. In all, more than 140 agencies and providers were involved, impacting 85 percent of the state’s homeless population. The Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness and Journey Home of Hartford were the project leaders.

At noon on Wednesday, June 24, the teams will gather at Community Renewal Team Inc., 555 Windsor Street, Hartford, to share their final results and celebrate their success. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra will speak.

The results (subject to change) include:
● More than 180 highly vulnerable and long homeless individuals housed in New Haven
● More than 120 individuals and families in Fairfield County housed and another 80 matched to housing
● Nearly 50 chronically homeless individuals in Greater Hartford housed and another 46 matched to housing
● More than 60 individuals in New London County housed
● Nearly 50 individuals and families in Windham County housed

These efforts are part of Connecticut’s work to end homelessness among Veterans by the end of 2015, and chronic homelessness by the end of 2016. Earlier this year, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced that Connecticut was one of four states chosen for Zero: 2016, a national initiative organized by the nonprofit Community Solutions and dedicated to ending Veteran and chronic homelessness (the long-term homelessness of people with disabilities) within the next two years. At the same time, the governor announced an expansion of existing permanent housing subsidies meant to help the state move toward that goal.

“I know that Governor Malloy and the residents of Connecticut are proud to support the great work and innovation of all the housing providers involved in this effort. It is because of their work on the front lines, each and every day, that we are able to celebrate this progress,” said Evonne Klein, commissioner of the Department of Housing, the state lead on efforts to end homelessness. “Working together, we are closer than ever to ending chronic homelessness in Connecticut.”

Only 18 of the 71 communities involved in Zero: 2016 are on track to meet the goals and Connecticut is the only state in this small group, in large part because of the progress generated through the Rapid Results 100-Day challenges. In the last four month, providers across Connecticut have housed 371 Veterans and 229 individuals experiencing chronic homelessness.

“The 100-day efforts across the state show the power we can unleash when we let the people who do this work on the ground re-engineer the system – these efforts are helping our communities leap forward toward our Zero: 2016 goals,” said Lisa Tepper Bates, executive director of the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness.

The 100-day initiatives brought together advocates, activists, service providers, and others to combine resources more effectively to advance the goal of ending homelessness. Each team created a plan and set goals at launch, and met at the 50-day mark to provide updates.

“The 100-Day Campaign has given us the opportunity and permission to try things temporarily and see what works and doesn’t work,” said Matt Morgan, Journey Home’s executive director. “We have been able to take some risks we would not have taken before the Campaign, and we have made it easier and faster for those who are chronically homeless to get the documentation they need and to move into housing.”

The Connecticut-based Rapid Results Institute, which developed the “100 day” approach, provided support throughout the process. Daniel Manitsky, senior catalyst with The Rapid Results Institute (RRI) said, “The Rapid Results Institute’s work helped break-down walls between organizations and, in some cases, different municipalities, to help ensure everyone was able to provide more efficient, effective services to those in need. The work also helped communities improve their targeting of resources, allowing the most intense services to be provided to those that needed the most help.

“The 100-day projects, which we successfully carried out in New Haven last year and continue to roll out in other states across the U.S., help frontline workers set-up and take more of a leadership role,” Manitsky said. “Developing their skills as managers and leaders, while allowing for new ideas and voices to be integrate in efforts to strengthen the system for helping those who are struggling to find stable housing.”

The 100-Day Challenges were funded by:
● Alpha Community Services YMCA
● Beatrice Fox Auerbach Foundation
● City of Hartford
● Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut
● Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness
● Connecticut Mental Health Center Foundation
● Hartford Foundation for Public Giving
● Journey Home of Hartford
● Melville Charitable Trust
● NewAlliance Foundation
● Opening Doors Fairfield County
● Supportive Housing Works
● United Way of Coastal Fairfield County
● United Way of Greater New Haven
● United Way of Southeastern Connecticut
● Yale-New Haven Hospital

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