In 2013, Connecticut’s legislature took a bold and smart step. It created an ongoing, statewide initiative to help Connecticut communities be more aging-supportive. It charged Connecticut’s Legislative Commission on Aging with leading the way. Then, this year, in a shocking move, the Appropriations Committee budget, and consequently the governor’s revised budget, targeted the Commission on Aging for elimination, at the very moment the 23-year-old commission has catapulted Connecticut into national and international recognition for its achievements.
The tsunami that devastated Thailand and much of Southeast Asia began as a wave of 6 inches. Rolling across the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean that small wave grew until it reached landfall and destroyed entire towns and communities, killing over 250,000 people. A similar wave and devastation are possible for our increasing senior population with the lack of attention they are receiving in behavioral health.
In an ideal world, perhaps we wouldn’t matter. People would not need to access the judicial system to resolve disputes or protect their rights. They would not experience discrimination. Tenants would be able to have reasonable discussions with their landlords and arrive at an outcome acceptable to all parties. Unfortunately, we do not live in an ideal world.
ByCarla Miklos, Lena Rodriguez and Kellyann Day. |
Over 1,000 families and more than 2,000 children were homeless in Connecticut over the course of 2015. It is best for the health of these families — particularly for their children — and less costly for our communities to resolve family homelessness quickly by helping these families stabilize their lives. To do so requires streamlining access to quality childcare for these children to help them through a difficult period, while freeing their parents to find work or sign up for needed employment training, and secure permanent housing as quickly as possible.
In response to “Child care funding: A choice between the struggling and destitute,” I agree that our state shouldn’t be leaving its most vulnerable out in the cold. When the allocation of our tax dollars becomes so focused on numbers, we lose a critical understanding of what’s at stake: the well-being, health and future success of our children.
There is no honor in how the state has disrespected persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities(IDD). Their plight is dire. With the last rescission, the IDD population since 2013 has lost nearly $100 million from its agency — the Department of Developmental Services(DDS).
As discussions and negotiations begin around the FY 2016-2017 midterm budget adjustments this legislative session, it is critical that the state continue its deep-seated commitment to Connecticut’s Community Action Agency (CAA) Network and antipoverty efforts. For more than 50 years, Connecticut’s CAAs, the state and federal designated antipoverty agencies, have provided basic human needs services such as food, shelter, heating assistance, and childcare to limited income individuals and families in all 169 cities and towns.
The Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness is calling for individuals across the state to join us Jan. 26 in the largest national data collection event on homelessness of the year. The Point-in-Time (PIT) count is an important annual exercise to estimate the total number of homeless on a given night across Connecticut and the country and a wonderful opportunity for individuals to get involved in ending homelessness.
In August of 2015, Connecticut made history when we became the first state to end the long term homelessness of veterans with disabilities. We are also on track to end the long-term homelessness of all Connecticut residents with severe disabilities by the end of this year. Rep. Dan Carter wrote in a recent op-ed that our state’s system to addressing homelessness, “merely put a Band-Aid on the hopelessness of those already without a home.” He also referred to the people we serve as, “’statistics’ who will be back out on the street in no time at all.” These statements could not be further from the truth.
We all know one person or another who is living paycheck to paycheck and literally a step from being forced onto the street. This happened to a woman I know and her 10-year-old daughter a few weeks ago. In my effort to assist her, I was shocked to learn how few resources are available to keep people in their homes when faced with difficult times.
The Bartletts are a family of four with two children, aged 8 and 4. Mr. Bartlett recently lost his job and Mrs. Bartlett works part-time for a retailer at just above minimum wage. Even with their limited income and some benefits including help from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food-stamps), it is still extremely difficult for them to regularly put nutritious food on the table. With Thanksgiving just behind us, and the rest of the holiday season ahead, food insecure households like the Bartletts will face additional challenges as they continue to struggle to make ends meet and still observe their holiday traditions.
In speaking directly to the Christian mandate to house the homeless and in choosing to spend his own time in service to them, Pope Francis challenges us all (Christian and non-Christian alike) to examine what we are doing to shape the response of our communities and our nation in the face of this social issue. In Connecticut, and across the nation, we have much to be proud of, as we steadily advance toward our goal of ending homelessness. Indeed, there is good news to share: Connecticut’s 2015 annual census of homelessness, the Point-in-Time Count, showed the lowest number of homeless people since this annual count began in our state in 2007.