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 email@example.com if you or anyone you know would like to be added to our distribution list!
In the 38 days since the beginning of the 1,000 Homes effort, a total of 321 people have been housed. An average of 8.68 people per day have exited homelessness in Connecticut.
We now have final numbers from June! A total of 269 people exited to housing in June, just missing the surge goal of 270 people housed.
In the first week of July, 52 people were housed. 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, 168 people have been housed using long-term housing resources, 107 self-resolved, and 46 were housed using one-time housing resources.
Eastern CAN has taken the lead in overall exits to housing, with 75 people housed over 38 days! Keep up the great work! Greater New Haven and Fairfield County are a close second and third, with 73 and 66 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.
Testing for COVID-19: Lessons and Challenges
Testing has become a major area of focus for all communities involved in the 1,000 Homes effort. People experiencing homelessness are at heightened risk of contracting COVID-19, and special precautions have been taken to prevent the spread of the virus, both in hotels and in de-compressed shelters.
In Connecticut, these precautionary efforts have been a success so far. Shelters and hotels have successfully prevented the large-scale outbreaks that have been seen in other states. However, each community has experienced different concerns and roadblocks to implementing a widespread testing policy.
Based on early experiences of testing in hotels and shelters, as well as an awareness of the need to ramp up testing across the state, a testing recommendation framework was developed to address some of these roadblocks. Because every community is different, this document provides a set of recommendations to be adapted to each community's needs.
Click here to view the testing recommendations.
We also spoke to the communities about the challenges and benefits of the testing programs so far. Below are some answers we received:
- The increased connections with Connecticut's health system have been incredibly valuable during the COVID-19 pandemic and will continue to be valuable afterwards.
- Many hotels have done testing already, and have seen very low rates of positive tests. In cases where hotels did receive a positive test, they were able to secure isolation space to prevent a larger outbreak.
- The ability to assess what worked and what didn't work in keeping homeless populations safe during a pandemic. In the event of a future pandemic or health crisis, this data and understanding of the spread of viral disease among this population can be invaluable in saving lives.
- The limited availability of rapid tests has been a barrier in ensuring the safety of the unsheltered population. Given that many people experiencing unsheltered homelessness do not have a reliable method of contact or permanent address, rapid tests are necessary to inform them of their results within a few hours.
- Data entry has emerged as a challenge for many communities. Many communities have had to navigate the challenge of receiving data from hospitals while remaining compliant with HIPAA. In addition, the process of additional data entry itself is a task that CANs have had to build into their work schedule.
- Many communities are grappling with the issue of finding a safe, reliable isolation space in the event that a shelter or hotel resident tests positive for COVID-19. While some shelters are opening and the number of positive tests are low in the state for shelter stayers, isolation spaces will need to be identified and available in the event of an outbreak in the fall. This will ensure that shelters are not overcrowded, meet CDC guidelines, and are able to provide a safe place for those in need.
Today we encourage all to take a moment of silence to honor David Dudley, a cherished husband, father, friend, leader, and innovator. Many in our community and across the state are sitting with the absence of an incredible presence, as we recognize the loss of Mr. Dudley. His passion and commitment to the work he did in his time as Executive Director of Shelter NOW lives on in all who worked with him, and his perspective continues to inform the work being done to end experiences of homelessness for people in the community.
While it is hard to capture a person's story on this earth, we know it is not about who we were every day, but how we are remembered by those around us that informs our legacy. Mr. Dudley's legacy only grows brighter with the comments of his colleagues and those who worked closely with him.
Below are some reflections shared that speak to and honor his legacy:
- "He was a tireless advocate who took it as his personal mission to make the lives of those he served better." - Dave Sunshine, Director of Resident Services, Meriden Housing Authority
- "We will miss David, his vision, advocacy and persistence in fighting to end homelessness." - Hebe Kudisch, Chief Program Officer, Columbus House
- "His perspective always came from what would truly empower people experiencing homelessness to make good choices and the importance of living with the consequences that came with any choice. He always brought, sometimes with great bravery, reality to the table." - Lydia Brewster, former Assistant Director of Community Services, St. Vincent De Paul of Middletown
- "David was not just a board member at CCEH, but also an inspiration and someone who embodied the values of our entire coalition and movement to end homelessness." - Richard Cho, Chief Executive Officer, Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness
- "When he came to the shelter as the Director, he was determined to change the image and reputation of what is a "shelter" and he succeeded. He always challenged our homeless system and pressed that we "have to do better". He was a mentor and he was a kind, selfless person. I will take what he taught me and continue to use it in his honor." - Caroline Perez, Senior Manager of Middlesex Services, Columbus House
I will close out this reflection with an interview for the "Faces of Homelessness" project, where David himself spoke of the value he places behind his work. A beautiful, and powerful reminder that while it is important we take this time to honor him and the life he led, there is still more we can do to ensure his legacy lives on.
"I love what I do," David says. "I have been blessed and can bring that blessing to others." "Society labels people and misjudges them," hey says. But from long experience David knows it's impossible to understand someone until you understand their life experiences. "All of our guests have some sort of pain in their past." This could be from an adverse childhood experience(s), trauma, abuse, neglect, mental illness, and/or the death of a loved one, to name a few. This may cause people to question their value and self-worth and unfortunately do harm to themselves.
For the record David confirms that, "No one wants to be homeless." So it's important for staff to focus on helping guests move past old pains and to a new and brighter future. "We make the effort to reinforce value in self and the power within," he says. At Shelter Now, no two days, nor two guests are the same. And, in part, that's what drives David - he savors a fresh challenge.
A note on donations:
As most know, David felt his greatest accomplishment was the success of his girls. In Lieu of flowers, we have set up The Dudley Education Fund for college expenses, payable to DudleyEduFund@gmail.com (Zelle). Or, we ask that you please consider helping those experiencing homelessness by donating to Shelter NOW, 43 Saint Casimir Drive, Meriden, CT 06450 in David's name. The shelter is currently only accepting personal hygiene items. For online condolences please visit jferryfh.com.