The Zero: 2016 Campaign to End Chronic Homelessness in Connecticut is gaining momentum with only six months left!  This campaign, geared towards improving local homeless services, celebrated a huge event on Friday, June 17th with a Homeless Document Fair hosted by My Sister’s Place.

People experiencing homelessness can often become trapped in the homeless services system because going into an apartment requires a lot of paperwork.  Landlords want to be able to prove someone’s identity, and that means keeping track of documents like a social security card, a birth certificate, immigration paperwork, photo IDs, and other kinds of identification.  In many cases, these documents can be misplaced or stolen, making the already difficult process of finding housing almost impossible for some.   This Homeless Document Fair was an effort to bring together agencies that provide these kinds of documents to set up a one-stop-shop for folks on the streets and in the shelters.

In attendance for the Document Fair there were representatives from the Department of Social Services, the CT Department of Public Health, The City of Hartford, the Social Security Administration, the US Department of Veteran’s Affairs, Court Support Services Division, the CT Department of Correction, the CT Department of Motor Vehicles, and Assurance Wireless.  Each of these vendors arrived with the goal of helping people to obtain these essential state and federal documents.  In addition to these vendors, volunteers also assisted with applying for out of state birth certificates, and clinicians were available on site to assist with mental health assessments.

Another barrier in obtaining documents is also paying the fees associated with replacing things like a photo ID or a birth certificate.  For the purposes of this fair, a generous donation was made by The Elizabeth Ferry Speer Foundation to ensure that fees would not stand in the way of helping people to obtain these essential documents.

With more than 50 volunteers, every client who arrived had a staff person to help them figure out what documents they still needed to obtain, and walk them through the event.  From the point at which people checked in until they received their Subway sandwiches, there were plenty of people around trying to troubleshoot difficult situations and provide support to the attendees.  More than 80 households were able to obtain some kind of documentation on the day of the event, and will be continuing to obtain more documents as applications are mailed out to local providers.

Other partner agencies include: 211, AIDS CT, Blue Hills Civic Association, Capitol Region Mental Health Center, Catholic Charities, Center Church, Charter Oak Cultural Center, Charter Oak Health Center, Community Health Network of Connecticut, Community Health Resources, Chrysalis Center, Columbus House, Community Partners in Action, Community Renewal Team , Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness, Cornerstone Foundation Shelter, CT Department of Housing, CT Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, Hands on Hartford, Hartford HealthCare, House of Bread, ImmaCare (formerly Immaculate Conception Shelter and Housing Corp.), Institute of Living, InterCommunity, Interval House, Loaves and Fishes, Inc., MACC Charities, Mercy Housing, Nutmeg, Partnership for Strong Communities, Salvation Army Marshall House, South Park Inn, St. Francis Hospital, Tabor House, The Network Against Domestic Abuse, The Open Hearth, Veteran’s Inc., YWCA, Town of West Hartford Social Services, The Connection, Dutch Point Credit Union, Department of Labor, AmeriCorps, US Department of Housing and Urban Development, Kidney Foundation, Community Mental Health Affiliates A&A Office System, Subway