March 3, 2016, was the Homeless and Housing Advocacy Day for the Greater Hartford Coordinated Access Network (GH-CAN). We had about 17 legislators and legislative aids come listen to the personal stories, pertinent facts, and important information regarding the legislative priorities put forth by the Opening Doors Campaign from the Partnership for Strong Communities. These legislative priorities consisted of creating 150 units of permanent supportive housing, expanding rapid re-housing, supporting coordinated access to homeless resources, providing immediate assistance for homeless youth in crisis, developing a Medicaid option for supportive housing services, and expanding access to childcare for homeless children.
With the priorities mentioned, we were able to focus our presentation for the legislative officials on those six topics. We showed the importance and need for their support to help this extremely vulnerable population. We emphasized that with legislative assistance, we can directly help and make a positive impact on the lives of so many people. Advocacy Day is a way to show the faces of those impacted and a way to use the power we have to make a difference. No matter what happens with their vote to move these legislative priorities forward or backward, we helped to further explain the need to help this community. We came out to advocate for more housing and support service resources to ensure all Connecticut residents have a safe place to call home.
Journey Home has some exciting news to share! Michael Ellis was housed at the beginning of March in a two bedroom apartment as part of the Moving On program. Prior to signing a lease and receiving keys to his new place, Mike was a chronically homeless individual residing in the city of Hartford. He has worked diligently for this opportunity and while there were a few bumps along the road, he is now happily settled in his new home. He is looking forward to building a new life after experiencing nearly two years of homelessness and living in shelters in Hartford.
Mike worked with Making a House a Home to furnish his new home with chairs, tables, and beds. The second bedroom will be set up as a place for his children to sleep in when they come to visit. He moved into his apartment with nothing but a backpack and the clothes on his back. He now has a dish set, towels, and a coffee maker in his kitchen.
His goals for the future include finishing his education and getting his GED. Now that he is in stable housing in a supported environment, Mike will be able to rebuild a relationship with his children, pursue school, and take some time to care for his mental health. Mike continues to stay connected to services since moving in so he can be in a better position of taking care of himself and provide for his children. He hopes that sharing his story will help others experiencing homelessness find their way to housing as well.
Providing connections to stable housing for all individuals and families living in shelters and on the streets in the Greater Hartford area is the ultimate goal for Journey Home’s initiative to end chronic homelessness. Mike is just one example of how finding a new home after an experience of homelessness can open new doors to a brighter future.
Since 2004 the Birdies for Charity fundraiser has been a staple of the Travelers Championship and an exciting opportunity for every non-profit in Connecticut. Last year the championship raised $1.56 million for more than 140 charities.
Similar to a walk-a-thon, donors pledge a small amount for each birdie made during the six-day tournament. For example, a 10-cent pledge with 1,500 birdies made will raise a total of $150. With the 1,829 birdies made at last year’s championship, over $20,000 was raised for Journey Home. This impressive sum also earned us a booth in the “Fan Zone”, and the opportunity to raise awareness among the event’s 50,000 attendees.
“There is great energy that comes with this particular fundraiser,” said Matt Morgan, Executive Director of Journey Home, “we compete to get the most pledges, but really, everyone wins.”
In 2016 we are striving to surpass last year’s record breaking total. The pledges we receive will help ensure that we meet our goal of ending chronic homelessness in Greater Hartford by the end of this year. If you support this mission we ask that you please visit Journey Home’s website to pledge.
Thanks to Travelers Championship, Cohn Reznick, Connecticut Association of Nonprofits, Ford and other generous sponsors, Journey Home is afforded this amazing opportunity every year. Catch all the action August 1st – 7th at the TPC River Highlands in Cromwell. We’ll see you in the Fan Zone!
On a chilly January night over 300 guests filled The Atrium at CityPlace with laughter, conversation, and most importantly, an earnest desire to support the work and mission of Journey Home. For us, it was a groundbreaking event and one that most said was impossible. We are young and small, but we are certainly mighty.
Amid the great music and incredible food, there was a palpable curiosity present that night. Many of the people gathered at our First Annual Gala were new faces to Journey Home. Old friends were scattered in the crowd, but the new energy in the room carried us throughout the whole evening. People gathered at the Spin-the-Bottle table to try their hand at winning a fine bottle of wine; the Hartford Flavor Company Signature Cocktail station was a huge hit; the Suitcase Drawing was as visually beautiful as it was fun; the NoRA Cupcake table may go down in Journey Home history; and the line at the photo booth was buzzing with activity. Sporting their custom-made “Home is Where the Heart Is” tattoos, guests were mixing and mingling with business partners, corporate executives, partners from our provider agencies, politicians, and people who had experienced homelessness. It was a true reflection of our work and mission.
Our fabulous auction items, fun activities, and spectacular food helped us raise over $150,000 to help put an end to chronic homelessness for good. Thank you to all of our sponsors, partners, and friends. We can’t wait to see you again next year!
On Tuesday, January 26th Journey Home led the efforts to collect information on those experiencing homelessness in the Greater Hartford area. This year’s Point- in-Time (PIT) count, which is a federally mandated census of all those experiencing homelessness on a given night in January, was carried out by dedicated teams or outreach leads, shelter staff and volunteers. This count was once again a successful collaborative effort on behalf of regional coordinators with Community Renewal Team (CRT) and Journey Home.
We were thankful that the snow held off and we were able to conduct the count without having to reschedule due to inclement weather. The count was successful because of the dedicated volunteers who showed up even before the sun rose, in the hopes of making a difference. We had volunteers from local universities, The Department of Housing and Urban Development, The Department of Veteran’s Affairs and concerned residents of Greater Hartford.
The final Connecticut PIT results will be available in the coming months and will offer detailed estimates for the Greater Hartford area along with the rest of the state. This data is important because it outlines the need for housing programs, additional funding, and it also allows us to set goals for the coming year. It gives a snapshot of homelessness in the Greater Hartford area and outlines progress made towards ending chronic homelessness.
Journey Home would like to extend our deepest gratitude to all the volunteers and partner agencies for their tireless efforts during the PIT count towards ending chronic homelessness.
The Greater Hartford Coordinated Access Network and the Aerospace Employment Placement Program is Strengthened
Two separate grant awards were recently made to Journey Home through the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving. A grant of $199,137 has been awarded to offer continued support of the Greater Hartford Coordinated Access Network. And a second grant of $216,105 has been awarded to fund the Aerospace Employment Placement Program through the Career Pathways Initiative.
“Journey Home is delighted and grateful to receive this support from the Hartford Foundation. This grant makes it possible for us to focus on ending chronic homelessness in Greater Hartford in 2016. Systems will be created, changes will be made, and lives will be transformed because of this award,” reports Sara Salomons, Development Officer at Journey Home.
The Greater Hartford Coordinated Access Network (CAN) is a unique entity within the homeless service system. It allows us to work collaboratively with area providers on creating a streamlined system that ensures one entry point to access all programs and services. This grant will continue to support the staffing and services needed to ensure successful housing outcomes. It will also contribute directly to Journey Home’s mission to accelerate progress towards ending chronic homelessness. The CAN has become essential to ensuring that the most chronic and vulnerable are prioritized for housing programs and this funding allows us to expand and improve our role in CAN operations.
“Journey Home is thrilled to receive the support of the Hartford Foundation as we work to grow and improve our economic security program. Their decision to provide resources for partnership among agencies is innovative and groundbreaking. This grant makes it possible for us to bring new jobs to an underserved population,” reports Roy Mainelli, Economic Security Manager at Journey Home.
The mission of the Aerospace Employment Placement Program (AEPP) is to provide a path out of poverty through job development and meaningful employment with the following attributes: livable wages, allowing for self-sufficiency; skills for the 21st century; and career growth through a collaborative mentoring program. The signature element of the program is the commitment by the employer to offer actual job placements prior to a participant’s successful completion of the training program which provides stackable, industry-recognized credentials. This funding will allow Journey Home to expand and enhance this successful program while partnering with Belcan Corporation, Goodwin College, Manchester Community College, The Open Hearth Association, Mercy Housing and Shelter Corporation and the Hartford Job Corps Center.
The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving is the community foundation for Hartford and 28 surrounding communities. In 2015, the Foundation celebrated ninety years of grantmaking in the Greater Hartford region, made possible by the gifts of generous individuals, families and organizations. It has awarded grants of more than $650 million since its founding in 1925. For more information about the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, visit www.hfpg.org or call 860-548-1888.
On February 18th, in Connecticut’s Capital City, Governor Malloy announced that the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has confirmed that Connecticut is the second state in the nation to end homelessness among veterans.
Connecticut has housed 766 veterans in the past year to reach this goal. Through the incredible efforts of a number of different agencies, our state has been able to identify and reach out to veterans experiencing homelessness. Once identified, the path to housing was expedited and we were able to see individuals move from homelessness to a home of their own in under 80 days.
“Ending veteran homelessness,” as defined by the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, means that Connecticut has successfully developed a system whereby every veteran who experiences homelessness will be quickly identified and provided appropriate supports and housing.
It is a momentous occasion and we are grateful for our partners, supporters, and friends for making it possible. We continue to forge ahead as we work to end chronic homelessness by the end of this year.
Thanks to all of you for your investment in our community and in our state’s most vulnerable citizens.
After the immense successes and progress made by the 100-Day Campaign in Greater Hartford, the region is more motivated than ever to take on another, even more ambitious campaign.
Zero: 2016 is a national campaign geared towards ending chronic homelessness. Ending chronic homelessness would mean that all households who have been homeless for a year and who have a disability would be housed, and if any other households who meet this definition are identified by our system, they will be immediately matched with a housing program and supports. The idea is that by focusing energy and setting an ambitious timeline for identifying and housing our most vulnerable neighbors, we can create a better functioning system that serves those who are most in need quickly. On October 28th, leaders and front line staff from around Connecticut came together to start planning, organizing, and making changes in preparation for this campaign.
What sounds like a great idea will come with a lot of work. In Greater Hartford alone, there are an estimated 360 households who will meet the definition of chronically homeless who will need to be matched with homes in the next 12 months to meet our goal. That would mean housing the homeless at a faster rate than we have ever seen in Connecticut. But through groundbreaking collaboration between state agencies like the CT Department of Housing and the CT Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, federal partners at HUD, and dozens of local nonprofits focused on homelessness, we’re seeing unprecedented changes. Community providers from the corporate, government, and nonprofit spheres have come together to figure out how to get more essential housing resources to the homeless in our area.
Connecticut is one of only four states participating in this campaign and is leading among these four. Within our state, eight regions have established robust teams made up of our best front line providers to change the way we think about housing, homelessness, and how we can meet our goals. In Greater Hartford, our team of 12 includes representatives from Community Renewal Team, ImmaCare, Community Health Resources, Veterans’ Inc., Hands On Hartford, Community Health Network, The Open Hearth, Mercy Housing, Chrysalis Center, Cornerstone Shelter, My Sisters’ Place, and Journey Home. This focused team will spend the next 12 months meeting regularly, brainstorming change, forging new connections in the community, and helping to lead our state towards a future without chronic homelessness.
Waking up on a cold, hard floor, with the sun beaming in from your uncovered windows, as you lay there in the clothes you have been wearing for weeks. You try and sit up but your back is aching, your muscles are sore, and you have no reason to get up today. No one should be living like this. Despite having a place to stay, off of the streets, with a roof and four walls, what one could call a house, you are still without a home; you are home less.
Our initiative, Making a House a Home, is starting to form a working group in order to keep this project sustainable. Members will be developing new ideas on how to expand our volunteer base, how to collect more furniture for our friends in need, and how to find the transportation to keep the furniture and clients connected. Members of this working group are going to be instrumental in involving volunteers as they support those who are previously homeless, and helping them get back on their feet.
This is a new undertaking, however it is one that has been making a huge impact on our previously homeless neighbors. Without this project, they would have to spend the little money that they have on furniture and household goods rather than saving up for transportation, health care costs, rent, and utilities. By collecting donations for them, it takes away some of the stress of not being able to afford household items. This group helps Journey Home to support the homeless community even after they are housed.
We are looking to expand our working group. If you are interested in joining us or learning more, contact our MSW intern Alison Scharr at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Journey Home’s Executive Director, Matt Morgan, spent the first three days of December at the SOAR Leadership Academy in New Orleans. The 3-day training was sponsored and facilitated by the SOAR Technical Assistance Center with the objective of creating local leads who can coordinate SOAR in their communities. Matt, along with Patricia Pollicina from Chrysalis Center, and 24 other SOAR leaders from 13 states, learned skills for effectively organizing local SOAR fundamentals trainings and steering committee meetings.
Matt says that the most useful part of the Leadership Academy was learning about best practices used in other parts of the country. “We got a chance to see what has worked in other regions so that we can replicate their success in Hartford.” For example, cities like Nashville and Philadelphia have implemented a quality review process for all SOAR applications, which has resulted in a roughly 98% approval rate for initial applications. “The quality review process is definitely something that we will be including here in Hartford,” Matt says. Participants in the Leadership Academy also discussed successful models for funding and sustainability and shared examples from around the country.
The Leadership Academy also covered techniques for creating an effective SOAR steering committee. The Greater Hartford SOAR steering committee was created at the Greater Hartford SOAR Forum in September of last year. The committee has been meeting monthly to develop and implement an action plan for expanding SOAR in the region. The techniques and practices learned at the SOAR Leadership Academy add will add great momentum to the steering committee and the SOAR initiative in Greater Hartford.