FAQs

How can I find help?

If you or someone you know is experiencing homelessness or is at imminent risk of homelessness, please call 211.


How many people are experiencing homelessness in Connecticut? 

Over the course of each year, thousands of people in Connecticut experience an episode of homelessness, many of whom are “chronically homeless,” meaning that they are experiencing long-term homelessness and instability. The numbers fluctuate from year to year, and are difficult to track. In Connecticut, we rely on two important methods for measuring the homeless population. First is the annual “Point-In-Time Count,” organized by the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness (CCEH) and required for federal funding through the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Each winter, staff and volunteers across the state go out into the cold on one night and perform a head-count of all homeless individuals. In January 2017, the Connecticut count identified 3,387 individuals, a 13% decrease from 2016 and a 24% decrease since 2007. The second tool for measuring the homeless population is known as the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS), a database used by homelessness service providers like Columbus House across the state. The HMIS allows service providers to track and share information. CCEH uses this database to determine how many people experience an episode of homelessness in the state each year: in 2014, there were almost 13,000 individuals who experienced homelessness. Despite these important tools that help us understand the scope of the problem, there are countless more who slip under the radar and are not tracked each year.

 

In addition to these important and commonly-used tools, Columbus House has invested over the years in our Quality Assurance efforts and ability to track our clients and measure the impact of our work. Click here for an interactive graphic designed by Columbus House’s Data Scientist that shows how we measure shelter services in New Haven.


Who is experiencing homelessness in Connecticut?

Of those individuals experiencing homelessness on a given night in Connecticut:*

  • 2,194 are adults without children

  • 1,180 are people in families

  • 736 are children

  • 191 are Veterans

What are the root causes of homelessness?

  • Lack of affordable housing

  • Unemployment or financial hardship

  • Chronic medical conditions

  • Substance abuse

  • Mental illness 

  • PTSD

  • History of abuse and/or neglect

How prevalent is mental illness among those experiencing homelessness?

About 40% of all homeless adults have been diagnosed with some form of mental illness, but countless more go undiagnosed.*


What role does substance abuse play in those who are experiencing homelessness?

About 50% of all homeless adults report chronic substance abuse.*


Can you have a job and still experience homelessness?  

Yes, and many of our clients do hold a job. Given the cost of living in Connecticut, they simply do not earn a “living wage,” that is, enough to pay housing costs.


How much does it cost to rent an apartment in New Haven?

The Fair Market Rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in New Haven is $1,033 monthly. In contrast, the maximum monthly benefit for homeless people who qualify for Supplementary Security Income is just over $700 per month. (according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development)


Is Columbus House a government agency?  

No. Columbus House is a private, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that must raise funds each year in order to meet its operating and program costs.


Where does your financial support come from?  

The majority of our funding comes from federal, state, and local grants that Columbus House must apply for annually, with no guarantees, and usually with no cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) increases. The remainder of our revenue comes from individual, corporate, and foundation contributions.


Does Columbus House work with other agencies?  

Every year, Columbus House makes over 4,000 referrals to other community-based social service agencies, including the Cornell Scott-Hill Health Center, the Connecticut Mental Health Center, the APT Foundation, Connecticut Veterans Legal Assistance, and many others. (See our Resources page.)


How can I offer help?

There are so many ways to make a difference! Check out our Get Involved page for details!
 

* Source: Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness’s Annual Point in Time Count on January 26, 2017. To view and download the complete report visit www.cceh.org