What is our strategy?
In early March, CCEH and the Department of Housing began working with regional Coordinated Access Networks to implement a series of measures to protect homeless populations and the staff who serve them from COVID-19 through infectious disease controls and social distancing within homeless shelters. In order to meet CDC guidelines for homeless shelters, shelters were asked to increase the spacing between beds and decrease census by reducing new admissions and facilitating exits to housing. However, it became clear that even with these steps, most shelters were unable to comply with CDC guidelines due to their congregate sleeping and living arrangements. This led to a statewide effort to decompress homeless shelters by relocating residents, staff, and operations to hotels.
Who is coordinating this effort?
This effort is being coordinated as part of the State of Connecticut’s emergency management system, specifically under the Emergency Support Functions (ESF) 6 Mass Care Working Group. In March of 2020, ESF 6 charged CCEH and the Department of Housing to co-lead a Homeless Shelter Taskforce to coordinate the statewide shelter decompression effort. Multiple state agencies and key non-governmental entities are assisting in various aspects of this effort. On March 10, Governor Lamont’s Executive Order 7P established the “Authorization to Provide for Non-Congregant Housing for Persons at Risk”, which tasked the state with providing protection of public health and safety during the pandemic by providing alternative, non-congregate shelter and housing for people experiencing homelessness.
How many shelter residents are being relocated?
This effort will relocate approximately 1,000 people from over 60 shelters into 15 hotels across the state. For more details and updated statistics on the relocation and efforts to rehouse people in shelter, visit www.cceh.org/covid19
What services are being provided to relocated residents?
Staff of non-profit shelter provider organizations, with support from regional Coordinated Access Networks, are providing on-site services to residents in the hotels. Services include residential aides, case management, three meals per day, crisis intervention, the provision of basic needs, as well as health and behavioral health care (both telehealth and in person) through partnerships with community health centers and behavioral health agencies.
What happens if a relocated resident is found to be COVID-19 positive?
The primary focus of shelter decompression is to move people who are not COVID-19 positive into hotels in order to prevent spread among homeless persons. However, it is anticipated that some persons relocated to hotels may found to be positive or symptomatic. If this occurs, they will stay isolated in hotel rooms unless they need hospitalization or more advanced medical care.
What is process for securing a shelter or hotel bed?
Our state has established 211 as a front door for all the shelters in the state. This includes the hotels, which are currently operating as part of the shelter system. Clients in need of shelter should call the United Way’s 211 hotline. Operators will seek to support clients in finding alternatives to shelter over the phone. Clients who need additional support will be scheduled for assessments to further explore alternatives to shelter.
Our next step is to rapidly exit clients from hotels and shelters by facilitating connections to permanent housing. CCEH has made available additional flexible funding for housing assistance. CCEH is also partnering with CT Association of REALTORS® and Connecticut Coalition of Property Owners, and other associations of landlords to identify existing housing vacancies for the roughly 2,000 people who are currently homeless.