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. In Connecticut, we rely on two important methods for measuring the population that experiences homelessness. 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 individuals who are experiencing homelessness on that night. In January 2019, the Connecticut count identified 3,033 individuals, a 10% decrease from 2018 and a 32% decrease since 2007. The second tool for measuring this population is known as the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS), a database used by homelessness service providers like Columbus House across the state. HMIS allows service providers to track and share information. Additionally, Connecticut now has a registry of all households experiencing homelessness in the state called the By Name List (BNL) which is published weekly. This data, along with many other useful tools and dashboards developed for providers to understand the scope, roots, and solutions to homelessness, can be found at www.ctcandata.org. These innovative tools were developed in partnership with Opening Doors of Fairfield County, Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness, Supportive Housing Works, Connecticut DOH, Partnership for Strong Communities, and Columbus House. As of June 25, 2019, there were 2,116 people (includes adults, youth, and children) on the weekly BNL in Connecticut. Sadly, despite all of these valuable resources, there are still countless people who slip under the radar and are not tracked each year.


Who is experiencing homelessness in Connecticut?

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

  • 2,089 are adults without children
  • 933 are people in families
  • 577 are children
  • 195 are Veterans
  • In 2015, the first CT Youth Count took place during the Point-in-Time Count. This year, of the 4903 surveyed, more than 1,000 unaccompanied youth under the age of 24 were found to be experiencing homelessness or unstably housed – indicating that the actual total number in the state is much higher. Columbus House is aligned with the statewide goal to end youth homelessness by 2020 and is partaking in the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Project with partners across Connecticut – part of a $6.5 million grant from HUD.

* Source: Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness’s Annual Point in Time Count on January 22, 2019. To view and download the complete report visit www.cceh.org.


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?

During Connecticut's Point in Time Count of those experiencing homelessness on January 22, 2019, 15% of those on the streets and 18% of those in shelters reported having a serious mental illness.

* Source: Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness’s Annual Point in Time Count on January 22, 2019.

 

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

During Connecticut's Point in Time Count of those experiencing homelessness on January 22, 2019, 8% of those on the streets and 13% of those in shelters reported having a chronic substance abuse issue.

* Source: Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness’s Annual Point in Time Count on January 22, 2019.


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.


What is the cost of housing in Connecticut?

According to Partnership for Strong Communities 2018 Housing Data Profiles, 50% percent of renters and 32% of homeowners in Connecticut spend more than 30% of their income on housing. This leaves little money for other necessities, such as food, utilities, healthcare, childcare, transportation, and more. In order to have funds left for other necessities, a minimum wage worker ($10.10/hr) would need to work 81 hrs a week to afford a 1 bedroom apartment at the Fair Market Rent of $1,064/mo.* (*National Low Income Housing Coalition Out of Reach 2019: Connecticut.)


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?  

Yes, many! Columbus House makes 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!