CT Colleges and Universities Plan for 2018 CT Youth Count!

Manchester, Connecticut –  Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) is partnering with the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness (CCEH) to address the significant barrier housing insecurity presents to student success. The youth count will be held from January 24-30, 2018 which will be one of the first efforts of this new collaboration.

Connecticut, a national leader in ending homelessness, was the first state to end chronic homelessness among veterans in 2015, the second state to functionally end all homelessness among veterans, and the first state in 2016 to match a housing resource to every individual documented as chronically homeless. Building on this success, Connecticut’s next goal is to end the homelessness of families and youth by 2020. A study conducted in March of 2017 by University of Wisconsin surveyed more than 33,000 students from more than 70 colleges in 24 states showed that about 13% of college students were homeless. These data points show the importance of bringing colleges and universities together to work towards ending college homelessness.

A critical part of this effort will be working with Connecticut colleges and universities to assure that students experiencing homelessness have access to resources to resolve their housing crisis. A forum was held at Manchester Community College on September 15, 2017 to address this issue, along with mental health and other needs faced by CSCU students.  In that forum, Dr. Mary Ann Haley, Deputy Director at the CCEH, called on the attendees to begin working towards the statewide implementation of the Single Point of Contact (SPOC) model. The SPOC model has been successful in other states in providing a more comprehensive, consistent and trackable response to homeless students. Manchester’s Dean of Students, Duncan Harris, responded to this call to action and, in partnership with CSCU’s Lesley Mara, helped convene the first statewide meeting of this initiative.

CSCU President Mark Ojakian commits to supporting this new project. “Our students are usually juggling real-life responsibilities at the same time they are pushing themselves to complete their studies. We have many students who struggle with housing insecurity. Fortunately, we live in a state that has consistently led on this issue and has made tremendous strides over the past several years. We are prepared to do our part to eliminate as many barriers as possible for our students”

One of the first steps in developing this response system is to get more accurate data concerning homelessness and housing insecurity. On December 4, 2017, Manchester Community College hosted a CCEH-led workshop to begin the first phase of this project, the 2018 Youth Count!. Part of building a robust SPOC system includes understanding the scope of students experiencing a housing crisis and raising awareness among students and faculty. The 2018 Youth Count! is a week-long effort to collect data on homeless youth and bring the issue of youth homelessness to the forefront of our communities. Led by CCEH and powered by schools, youth providers, state agencies, faith-based groups, and youth themselves, this effort has been growing in momentum and will now be joined by the SPOC participants. The 2018 Youth Count! is set for January 24-30, 2018.  This effort is part of shared work with partners in the Reaching Home Youth and Young Adult Work Group.

CCEH has partnered with CT Colleges and Universities which includes the following colleges: Asnuntuck Community College, Capital Community College, Central Connecticut State University, Eastern Connecticut State University, Gateway Community College, Housatonic Community College, Manchester Community College, Middlesex Community College, Naugatuck Valley Community College, Northwestern Connecticut Community College, Norwalk Community College, Quinebaug Valley Community College, Southern Connecticut State University, Three Rivers Community College, Tunxis Community College, and Western Connecticut State University.

In addition, we are excited to be working with the following colleges and universities: Goodwin Community College, University of Connecticut, University of New Haven, Yale University, and Albertus Magnus.

For more information on SPOC, please visit cceh.org/SPOC. For more information on how you can volunteer for the 2018 Youth Count! use this link.

For questions or press related inquiries, please contact Michelle Pomerantz at mpomerantz@cceh.org.