One of the greatest assets that the Greater Hartford Coordinated Access Network
(GH CAN) has is our navigators. Navigators are assigned to those who are
believed to be chronically homeless and assist them with becoming “document
ready”. Which means they obtained all the documents necessary for housing.
Our navigators work with a variety of folks of who have a number of challenges
and are sometimes met with situations that have not been encountered before.
Alicia Akers, one of the GH CAN navigators, can attest to the variety of barriers
she has experienced while working with those experiencing homelessness.
Alicia was recently working with a gentleman experiencing homelessness who
only spoke Polish. Because Alicia did not speak one word of Polish, she knew she
would need lots of assistance in helping this individual. One thing was certain,
she wasn’t going to let a language barrier get in the way. Using some very creative
thinking she decided to reach out to the Polish community in Hartford and was
able to make contact with Father Henry, pastor of Saint John the Baptist Polish
National Catholic Church in Manchester. Father Henry offered his time as a
translator between Alicia and her client. He assisted her with scheduling
meetings and completing paperwork. He also arranged contact with Alicia and
the polish consulate so that the could obtain his passport. Without Father
Henry’s assistance, the process of getting this man document ready would have
taken much longer.

Soon after Alicia was able to secure all of the necessary documents for him, she
was assigned another individual who was a refugee from Ukraine. This gentleman
had an array of medical issues and was sleeping under a bridge and in hallways in
abandoned buildings. Alicia desperately wanted to help this man. While in search
of third party evidence of the client’s time sleeping outside, she was able to
connect with the client’s probation officer. Not only was the client’s probation
officer able to verify his homeless history, she also translated all of his paperwork
that was vital to his housing process. Once again, without the officer offering
assistance, the process would have been greatly delayed.
People working together for the common good. How incredible is that? All of us
have a deep appreciation for the many people committed to our work and