Connecticut achieves milestone in goal of ending chronic homelessness
January 12, 2017
On January 12, 2017, Alison Cunningham, Columbus House CEO, joined Gov. Malloy and others as he announced that we, as a state, have matched each person who is verified as chronically homeless with housing, and have the systems in place to house anyone who is newly verified within 90 days. We are proud to be part of this unprecedented work. Together, with our many wonderful partners across the state, and all of our supporters, we are getting closer to ending homelessness for all. The following is Alison Cunningham's address at the Governor's press conference:
"I remember vividly my first visit to our newly opened supportive housing site 18 years ago. When I got there, I was greeted with a familiar face, someone who I knew from my work in the shelter in the early 80s. In those days, this man was sick, really sick, resulting in his cycling in and out of the local hospital emergency department. Daryl spent years in the various shelters in New Haven, and his family, unable to locate him, had literally given him up for dead. But, here he was, alive and really well, housed in a brand new efficiency apartment with services on site and friends just down the hall. Over the years that he lived at Cedar Hill, Daryl regained his health and reunited with his family, secured a job in a music store, and played in two bands. This is the miracle that happens when we address chronic homelessness head on — with housing and the support services that are critical to keeping people housed and helping them flourish.
"Since January of 2015, through our Zero: 2016 Campaign, we have housed over 1200 people who, like Daryl, were identified as chronically homelessness. Eighteen years ago, with my introduction to supportive housing, I'm not sure I could've imagined this!
"But there were visionaries among us even then, who, because of their passion for justice, set the stage for this work to be successful. I'm thinking, of course, of Dick Schuster, Carol Walter, Barbara Geller, each of them stars in the constellation that guide us in our mission to address all forms of homelessness.
"The Zero: 2016 Campaign has gotten people housed and has resulted in drastically changing the way we do business. Staff at every level, and in a variety of agencies, have worked diligently to reimagine a crisis response system that is more efficient and effective for the people we serve. They’ve spent countless hours in local and statewide meetings, designing policies and procedures, shifting resources to fit a better system of care that meets the needs of people experiencing homelessness. This effort has brought people together from a variety of disciplines, ranging from statewide coalitions to shelter providers, and including United Way agencies, hospital associations and private philanthropy. All of us have coalesced across agency boundaries in new ways so that we could achieve this audacious goal.
"Our state partners in DOH and DMHAS have been flexible with us, supporting the development of our local CANS (Coordinated Access Networks) in ways unique to each service area. They’ve added new resources like the CAN staff, Leigh Kara and Beau, who provide keen insight and direction, and like the CABHI (Cooperative Agreements to Benefit Homeless Individuals) grants that add critical support for people transitioning into housing. Commissioner Klein and Commissioner Delphin-Rittman, thank you!
"Our Governor has supported the Zero: 2016 Campaign from the beginning and has committed the resources to get us here today. Governor, you are to be applauded for not wavering from this goal, even when other demands of a tight budget weighed heavily on you. You kept this work in your sights, putting your trust in us and the state’s resources behind us. Your leadership in the areas of homelessness and housing is unprecedented.
"Well, so now what? The work continues as we now help those who are recently housed maintain their housing. We also need to ensure that existing resources stay in place so that we don’t lose the precious ground we’ve gained. We will stay true to the goal of ensuring that episodes of homelessness are rare, brief, and not repeated. And as we turn our attention to ending homelessness for families and youth, let’s use the lessons learned throughout Zero: 2016 to help us reach the new goals ahead. Congratulations everyone!"
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