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New Haven Looks For The Best Way To Help The Homeless

Davis Dunavin

 The city of New Haven wants to change the way it provides services for its homeless population.

On Monday, the city released the results of a study to find out what kind of services their homeless are being offered, what they're using, and what's working (or isn't working.) A few key facts:

  • The study counted 566 homeless people in New Haven, compared with 619 in Hartford and 237 in Bridgeport.
  • The city has enough emergency space to house 456 people across its shelters.
  • There are 1,197 permanent housing units in the area, but more than 9,000 people are on a waitlist for housing.
  • According to the Board of Education, about 424 children in the city are homeless or have been homeless.
  • The study counted 33 homeless veterans in New Haven. The state has set a goal of eliminating homelessness among military veterans by the end of this year.

More generally, the study showed the city needs to work more with its non-profits, like Columbus House, which offers a variety of services in the area. Mayor Toni Harp said this is evidence that long-term care is just as important as short-term care, and social services are critical.
"You have to ensure they have access to jobs  they can get, they can sustain," she said. "It really just opened our eyes that housing is important, but so are the services that support those who are housed.

The city has dealt with some extreme temperatures and intense weather this winter. Harp said that just reinforced the point of the study.

"We were prepared for our normal emergency needs," she said. "We had the overflow shelter. We had a contract with the warming center. But warming centers are not ideal. So we're going to be working to, hopefully, have more permanent housing so there will be fewer people in shelters and we'll need fewer warming centers."

Last year the city placed more than 100 people in permanent homes during a 100-day campaign. That same campaign launched in Fairfield County, eastern Connecticut and the greater Hartford area Monday.

Davis Dunavin loves telling stories, whether on the radio or around the campfire. He started in Missouri and ended up in Connecticut, which, he'd like to point out, is the same geographic trajectory taken by Mark Twain.