Connecticut has begun an ambitious effort to house 1,000 people over four months, in order to reduce the individual and community risk of COVID-19 in high-risk congregate shelters, and promote the long-term and public health of Connecticut.
From now until the end of September, the Reaching Home Campaign will be sending out bi-weekly updates on the 1,000 Homes effort. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you or anyone you know would like to be added to our distribution list!
July data from the 1,000 Homes effort continues to come in! In the 52 days since the beginning of 1,000 Homes, a total of 429 people have been housed. An average of 8.25 people per day have exited homelessness in Connecticut.
In total, 163 people have been housed so far in July. We expect these numbers to increase even further as communities begin to receive their CARES Act funding designated for housing and homelessness services.
In total, 223 people have been housed using long-term housing resources, 150 self-resolved, and 54 were housed using one-time housing resources. An additional two people were housed through other sources of funding.
Eastern CAN continues to lead all regions in the total number of people housed, with 112 total exits to housing! Fairfield and New Haven take the second and third spots with 89 and 83 exits to housing respectively.
For a complete data breakdown, visit CT CAN Data's 1,000 Homes Data Dashboard. This dashboard includes regional and demographic data, including race, ethnicity, gender, age (youth/adult), and family status.
Creative problem-solving is nothing new when it comes to finding safe, affordable housing in Fairfield County for individuals and families who are experiencing homelessness. But the challenges created by COVID-19--greater demand, lower supply, and higher prices--mean that Fairfield County and other Coordinated Access Networks (CANs) are trying out new approaches to expand the available options and pool of landlords.
"Each CAN has their own challenges. We can deal with [the lack of] affordability, but we need to build our inventory, says Jessica Kubicki, Director of Programs for Supportive Housing Works, noting that achieving the goals of the 1000 Homes initiative will require the CAN to find housing for upwards of 20 individuals a week.
Technology has been helpful--from enabling virtual tours, inspections, and document approval to supporting a centralized database of every available unit that's accessible across the entire CAN. Units move quickly and that has prompted evaluation of two newer approaches: shared housing and realtor incentives.
"Columbus House in New Haven has always been at the forefront of shared housing, and we have started to encourage that because some of our landlords have two- and three-bedroom apartments," says Kubicki. "As much as we can, we match people."
Realtor incentives are in the "infant stages" of being rolled out. Kubicki notes that the markets are very different in Stamford, Norwalk, Bridgeport and Danbury and that provider agencies have the ability to decide how or whether to adopt the approach.
Client Choice & Client Safety
As the Coordinated Access Networks (CANs) across the state continue their hard work in moving people into permanent housing from hotel/motel/shelter placements, all are facing successes and challenges with an important consideration: How do you balance a client's right to choose with the need to keep communities and the public safe during a pandemic?
When you're experiencing homelessness and residing in a congregate living facility, you are regularly engaging with a case manager or social worker to assist you in finding a safe, stable place to live. Usually, this is led by the model of client choice, where placements are thoughtfully considered given the needs, constraints and hopes the client has about their next living arrangement. Having a home that meets your needs and is in a location you feel safe and connected in are important factors in successful housing placements. However, during a time where a lack in affordable housing is intersecting with a dangerous public health crisis, the state and providers are being encouraged to move people into housing placements as quickly as possible to make sure shelters are able to follow CDC guidelines on managing safe congregate living procedures.
This is an issue that has come up across the seven CAN regions, as the need to move people into isolated living spaces must be balanced with ensuring clients have a say in the placements that are available to them. CANs have found success in having honest and direct conversations about the availability of affordable units and the seriousness of finding a safe and stable place to be during the pandemic. A major barrier they have expressed is in working with clients who do not have a stable source of income during this time and trying to move them into a safe place that they could sustain on their own.
Christine Santana, Rapid Re-Housing Manager at Columbus House, shares an example of a success she had in balancing client choice and safety:
"One individual comes to my mind when I think of how quickly this all happened. A young woman who was living in our shelter for a few months was offered our services. She was very afraid to leave the shelter and was very vocal about it. She had many choice words for RRH and her shelter case manager. She stormed out of our offices on two separate occasions. Finally, we convinced her this was a safer option than the shelter or the streets.
After one week living in her new unit, she called the head of our shelter to voice how she felt uneasy about living in the new unit she chose. Again, she was counseled this was the safest option, but she was very upset. I was informed by the shelter director that this occurred, so I decided to wait a week and check up on her. I called her landlord first and asked if she was ok. He stated that she was managing.
A few more weeks went by and I decided to contact the landlord again. He informed me that the client was completely content, making friends and paying her rent on time. At first, she experienced fear of the unknown. She decided to put her trust in RRH and her shelter case manager and now she lives independently and safely in her own unit!"