Mary and Rob worked hard. They were able to pay their rent, support themselves and their daughter, and make ends meet. But when Rob died unexpectedly, Mary was forced to use their entire nest egg of $4,000 to cover funeral expenses. Behind on rent and with no savings left to cover the gap, Mary faced eviction, and believed that she and her daughter had no choice but to leave their home and seek out an emergency shelter. Fortunately, through an initiative known as “shelter diversion” spearheaded by the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness (CCEH) in conjunction with local homeless shelters, Mary received financial assistance that allowed her and her daughter to stay in their apartment and remain current with rent until Mary started her new job.
Such stories are all too common for Connecticut’s families, many of whom live their lives one paycheck away from homelessness. One-time crises such as medical emergencies or the loss of a loved one can tip the balance overnight. In many cases, $1,000 or less can save a family from becoming homeless and prevent the need to access shelters and other more costly services. Thanks to a three-year, $275,000 grant to the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness from the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, more families and young people will receive the help they need to keep them in their homes or provide access to stable housing. This grant will support training, technical assistance, data analysis, and related work the CCEH provides to support local efforts to end family and youth homelessness in the Capitol Region.
“Homelessness is the worst form of poverty, and it takes a toll on our communities. We owe it to our state’s young people to make sure that no family or youth has to experience homelessness if we can help it,” said Lisa Tepper Bates, executive director of the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness. “We are thrilled by the Hartford Foundation’s long history of commitment to our state’s work to move the needle on homelessness – and with that support, we are making real progress.”
Connecticut is transforming the state’s homelessness response system – moving away from “managing” homelessness to a focus on ending it. Thanks to a new level of collaboration between local agencies, Connecticut is making great progress: homelessness is steadily falling across the state, and it was the first state to end chronic veteran homelessness, one of only two states to end all veteran homelessness. The Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness is a key driver of this change and, in partnership with other state and local agencies, is a leader in providing support to our communities to create long-term solutions to this devastating problem.
Dave Martineau, Executive Director of Mercy Shelter and Housing, reinforced the innovation that CCEH brings to Connecticut. “I have worked with Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness for many years and appreciate its unwavering commitment to the mission of ending homelessness,” said Martineau. “This comes in many forms including doing research on the latest cutting edge strategies and ensuring that we as a state are informed of these practices.”
Connecticut's typical homeless family is headed by a young single mother of color with two very young children, often under the age of five. Children in homeless families have higher rates of chronic health conditions, greater likelihood of involvement with child welfare, and lower educational proficiency scores. They are more likely to be absent from school, fall behind their peers, and drop out of high school.
Homelessness among youth (those under age 25) often goes undetected and remains a hidden problem. Typically, this population does not appear in adult shelters and remains elusive to many mainstream homeless service providers. Youth experiencing homelessness are highly vulnerable to exploitation and victimization, are much more likely than peers to be involved with criminal justice, and much less likely to continue their education.
“At a time when resources for housing and homelessness are at risk, it is vital that we support efforts to better coordinate services to ensure that families and youth here in Greater Hartford have access to the supports they need,” said Hartford Foundation community investments officer, Erika Frank. “No young person should have to know what homelessness feels like."
The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving is the community foundation for Hartford and 28 surrounding communities. In 2015, the Foundation celebrated ninety years of grantmaking in the Greater Hartford region, made possible by the gifts of generous individuals, families and organizations. It has awarded grants of more than $680 million since its founding in 1925. For more information about the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, visit www.hfpg.org or call 860-548-1888.