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Ahead of winter weather, New Haven opens shelter at former hotel for city's homeless

Mayor Justin Elicker speaks at the new shelter, surrounded by city officials and housing advocates.
Molly Ingram
/
WSHU
Mayor Justin Elicker speaks at the new shelter, surrounded by city officials and housing advocates.

New Haven’s newest homeless shelter is open — and it's unlike the city's other temporary emergency housing sites.

The city purchased the old Days Inn hotel and now has space for 110 individuals to stay in private rooms with one roommate.

“One of the things that we have heard consistently out in the community from people that are struggling with housing is that the historical approach to this challenge of congregate shelters, oftentimes men go in this space and women go in this space, does not facilitate people that are requiring a lot of different needs,” Mayor Justin Elicker said.

“Maybe it's a couple, maybe it's someone that has serious anxiety about being in a place where they have to protect their things, and they don't have the kind of comfort of being in a larger space with a lot of people. There's a lot of different needs that this site can help support that those previous sites couldn't," he added.

Cassandra Saxon, Debra Jimenez's partner, stands in the doorway of their room with their two dogs, Marlee and Mya.
Molly Ingram
/
WSHU
Cassandra Saxon, Debra Jimenez's partner, stands in the doorway of their room with their two dogs, Marlee and Mya.

Debra Jimenez has been staying at the shelter with her partner since Saturday. She said her experience has been much better than her previous shelter arrangement.

“During this process, I think you tend to lose kind of like maybe your self-respect, some of your dignity, during the process,” Jimenez said. “And I feel like being here, it's just strengthened me, I was able to keep my dignity and keep my head up.”

The shelter will be open 24 hours a day, and allows pets. It will offer clothes, food and wraparound social services.

Continuum of Care will operate the facility.

For eligibility, call 211 to find space in any of the city’s shelters or to get on the waitlist. A referral is required to get a bed — walk-ins will not be accepted.

Molly is a reporter covering Connecticut. She also produces Long Story Short, a podcast exploring public policy issues across Connecticut.