Hartford Foundation submits testimony urging additional funding for state rental assistance and homelessness prevention services


On Friday, February 23, the Hartford Foundation provided testimony to the legislature’s budget-writing Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Conservation and Development in support of providing increased funding allocations to the Department of Housing to support the state rental assistance program and homeless prevention services.

As part of our efforts to dismantle structural racism and advance equity in social and economic mobility in Greater Hartford's Black and Latine 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. We also invest in ensuring adequate job training that leads to quality jobs.

Closely related to our work to ensure adequate safety nets and career pathways to good jobs are our efforts to increase the number of Hartford residents living in higher opportunity neighborhoods, by working with nonprofit, government, and other community partners. Higher opportunity neighborhoods are defined by a variety of factors, including low unemployment, better performing schools, lower crime and greater availability of quality, affordable housing stock. Given these interrelated issues, we urge legislators to support immediate interventions as well as to examine systemic challenges that are driving housing instability in Connecticut.

The Foundation invests in efforts designed to increase the stability, availability, and quality of affordable housing in the Greater Hartford region; align and leverage additional investment in Hartford neighborhoods; and increase the social strength and connectedness of Hartford neighborhoods.

The Foundation and many partners throughout the state recognize that when people have stable housing, their economic and health outcomes improve. Given the need, the Hartford Foundation and other philanthropic organizations have supported this work for many years.

According to  DataHaven’s Greater Hartford Community Wellbeing 2023 Index, rising housing costs have exacerbated housing affordability as about a third of households are spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing. Forty-nine percent of renters are burdened by housing costs, with higher shares among Black (55 percent) and Latino (54 percent) renters. Rising housing costs are also reflected in increased eviction and homelessness rates. In late 2021, the DataHaven Community Wellbeing Survey found that three percent of Black and Latino women and two percent of Black and Latino men in Connecticut said that they would have to leave their home in the next two months because they were behind on their rent or mortgages, compared to 0.5 percent of white women and 0.5 percent of white men. If we are to sustain progress and continue tackling these and related challenges, the state must lead the effort to provide adequate resources to prevent and eliminate homelessness in Connecticut.

The Foundation remains committed to preventing and reducing homelessness in Greater Hartford by both providing grants to organizations supporting people experiencing homelessness and by addressing systemic barriers to quality, affordable housing.

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. Today, our portfolio includes smaller, annual emergency assistance grants made to neighborhood organizations providing urgent food, clothing, financial assistance (i.e., rent and utility expenses) and domestic violence aftercare. In 2021, the Foundation began to shift its support of homeless service providers to offering multi-year core support grants, helping service providers to plan for longer-term initiatives and hire staff with greater confidence.

The Hartford Foundation has supported Greater Hartford Coordinated Access Network, which ensures coordination among homelessness and housing nonprofits and groups, since its inception. In 2021, the Foundation provided a grant to the Connecticut Coalition to End Homeless to support the development of a statewide plan to end and prevent homelessness in Connecticut. This plan is a re-envisioning of the Reaching Home Campaign with the goal of preventing and ending homelessness in the state by integrating a racial equity and inclusion approach to Connecticut Coordinated Access Network’s response to homelessness.

The Hartford Foundation offers it support for the Connecticut CAN End Homelessness proposal that calls on the state to invest $20 Million to stabilize and strengthen Connecticut’s Homeless Response System.

This includes:

  • $5 million annualizing Cold Weather Emergency Response Program Funding to keep Connecticut residents from freezing outside.
  • $6 million to DOH and $1.4 million to DMHAS annually to strengthen shelter and outreach capacity to provide homeless and housing service organizations funding for necessary staffing and operational costs.
  • $3.6 million to increase and annualize funding for Diversion and CAN Hubs to continue to increase diversion rates and for CAN hubs to connect people with critical support and resources to resolve their housing crisis.
  • $2 million to increase and annualize funding for the Coordinated Access Network (CAN) Backbone Agencies to prevent system interruptions and maximize performance of the agencies that lead the emergency Homeless Response System and effectively organize the system of care.
  • $2 million to annualize Flexible Funding Subsidy Pool to help individuals, families, and youth overcome financial barriers.

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 safe, secure, and affordable housing.