Over the past few years, Journey Home, alongside dozens of local partners, has been making a huge impact on ending homelessness. Most days, we spend our time analyzing data, facilitating workgroups, engaging volunteers, and moving furniture into new homes. In early March, though, the Journey Home team took to the Capitol for the annual Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Days with the Reaching Home campaign, organized by the Partnership for Strong Communities, and the CT Coalition to End Homelessness.
Advocacy Days are a two-day stretch, usually in early spring, where providers of homeless services and housing programs across the state of Connecticut join together. In the legislative office building, each of the different Coordinated Access Networks across the state presented data highlighting the work we have done to end veteran homelessness, the work we are doing to end chronic homelessness, and the goals we have to end family and youth homelessness by 2020. Legislators and legislative aides gathered to hear stories from clients who have been positively impacted by housing and shelter programs. Here are some of the highlights we shared with our local elected representatives:
- CT was recognized in 2016 by the federal government as one of the first two states in the nation to end homelessness among Veterans.
- From January 2015 to December 2017, CT providers housed 1,948 people experiencing chronic homelessness, bringing CT within reach of our goal of ending chronic homelessness.
- Since January 2014, there has been a 62% decrease in individuals experiencing chronic homelessness (long-term homelessness with a severe disability). In September 2017, there were 197 adults experiencing chronic homelessness in CT — the lowest number to date.
Connecticut has been leading change in ending homelessness over the last few years. State legislators are seeing that housing reduces use of emergency rooms for medical care, saves money across systems, and allows constituents to become active members of their communities. These advocacy days give us the chance to show legislators the progress we are making each year, and to make the case for maintaining essential, life-saving support programs. Across the state of CT, through our advocacy days we were able to reach 125 state legislators with our message of progress, and we shared the ambitious goals we have for ending homelessness in the years to come.