Hartford Foundation Submits Testimony to Support Homelessness Prevention Legislation

Read the Foundation's Testimony

On Thursday, February 2, the Hartford Foundation submitted testimony to the General Assembly’s Housing Committee in support of House Bill 6554, An Act Appropriating Funds for Certain Homelessness Response Programs and Senate Bill 909, An Act Establishing a Right to Housing.

As part of our efforts to dismantle structural racism and advance equity in social and economic mobility in Greater Hartford's Black and Latinx communities, the Hartford Foundation supports basic human needs in our region, applying an equity lens to the systems and programs that address access to housing, food, physical and mental health, and the digital divide.

While the Foundation and other philanthropic organizations have and will continue to support this work, the state must lead the effort to prevent and eliminate homelessness in Connecticut. Public commitment must also address the interplay of basic human needs, including housing, and provide adequate support to the nonprofit organizations delivering these services. To this end, the Foundation supports House Bill 6554, An Act Appropriating Funds for Certain Homelessness Response Programs.

Prior to COVID, Connecticut had made tremendous strides in reducing homelessness, due in large part to the hard work and dedication of the nonprofit providers working directly with housing insecure residents. Unfortunately, this progress has been reversed by the pandemic. With increased workloads, historic underfunding, and greater competition to hire and retain staff, the need to increase funding for our homeless prevention system has never been greater.

The Foundation’s past and current grants focus on preventing and reducing homelessness in Greater Hartford. Each year, the Foundation awards approximately $1 million to local nonprofit organizations that provide access to emergency shelter, housing subsidies, case management, eviction prevention and landlord negotiation, employment services, and other services to residents at-risk or experiencing homelessness. In 2021, the Foundation began to shift its support of homelessness service providers by offering multiyear core support and program grants that complement a broader group of Foundation’s investments in homelessness prevention and housing security. Our portfolio includes smaller, annual emergency assistance grants made to proximate organizations providing urgent food, clothing, financial assistance (i.e., rent and utility expenses) and domestic violence aftercare. Critically, the Foundation supports work to address systemic barriers to quality, stable, affordable housing, including the Greater Hartford Coordinated Access Network that ensures coordination among homelessness and housing nonprofits and groups.

The Foundation also provided a grant to the Connecticut Bar Association to support the evaluation of the Right to Counsel pilot program that formally launched in January of 2022. The organizations providing direct legal services under the program are Connecticut Legal Services, Connecticut Veterans Legal Services, Greater Hartford Legal Aid, and New Haven Legal Assistance Association.

The Foundation also offered its support for Senate Bill 909, An Act Establishing a Right to Housing. This bill directs state agencies to consider the right to housing when adopting policies and regulations, prioritizing the interests of those with low and moderate incomes. We credit the Committee for including an expansive list of policy prescriptions, such as legal and financial assistance, which recognize people disproportionately impacted by homelessness, including people of color, returning residents, and LGBTQ adults and youth.

We laud the Committee’s proposed creation of a Right to Housing Committee whose membership will include those with expertise in issues related to housing and homelessness, especially those most impacted by a lack of access to housing. The Foundation has partnered with state and municipal public partners to ensure that residents and nonprofits are invited to bring their expertise to public working groups and that they are compensated for their time. The Foundation welcomes working with the Committee to ensure that residents with lived experience of homelessness and housing insecurity can contribute to its solutions.

The Foundation looks forward to continuing its work with policymakers, nonprofits, philanthropy, and residents to develop effective long-term policies that will ensure all Connecticut residents have access to the life’s basic necessities including safe and secure housing.