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 first-ever statewide count of homeless youth shows as many as 3,000 young people (age 24 or under) facing homelessness in Connecticut and in need of very basic services – including food and shelter. We know that homelessness early in life can set these young people on a trajectory for tragedy and poor life outcomes. We have seen success in coming together to tackle adult homelessness, now we need to do the same for vulnerable young people.
Ending homelessness in Connecticut is not an unreachable dream — it’s a public policy goal that we must achieve. Through innovations like this year’s enhanced homeless count process, we are not just talking about the goal – we are moving toward it.