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.