On Thursday, August 27, 2015, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald announced the end of chronic homelessness for Connecticut’s veterans. This remarkable achievement marks a major milestone in the national and state goals to end Veteran homelessness by the end of 2015.
Connecticut is the first state in the country to reach this goal. A national leader in this effort, Connecticut devoted substantial supports to veterans experiencing homelessness through a coordinated and targeted campaign led by the Connecticut Department of Housing, Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness, the Partnership for Strong Communities, and the CT Heroes’ Project.
“This means that all known chronically homeless veterans are housed or are on the immediate path to housing and any veteran who newly enters homelessness will be rapidly put on the path to permanent housing,” said Lisa Tepper Bates, executive director of CCEH. “Chronically homeless individuals are the most vulnerable among us. These are veterans with a disabling condition who have been continuously homeless for a year or have had at least four episodes of homelessness in the past three years. We now have tools and processes in place to help end and prevent chronic homelessness among veterans in Connecticut.”
Behind this achievement was a powerful and effective cross-sector collaboration forged among the Connecticut Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, homeless service providers, the VA Connecticut Healthcare System, CT’s VA-funded Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) programs, the Hartford office of Housing and Urban Development, and the CT Department of Housing.
Another key component in ending veteran homelessness has been the expansion of the locations in which a veteran can seek assistance and a coordinated system of linking them with services. Important in this process has been identifying those veterans in need of housing and ensuring that they are receiving the services available to them. The Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness, guided by national best practices, helped in this effort by developing and implementing strategies for creating single, shared lists of homeless veterans and tracking housing outcomes on a monthly basis. This statewide coordination has helped ensure that no veteran will fall between systems.
On the federal level, significant increases in permanent supportive housing vouchers (HUD-VASH) and additional funding targeted to prevent veteran homelessness and provide rapid rehousing to veterans, have provided the critical resources to assist Connecticut in realizing this goal. U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) have been leaders in advocating for the resources needed to reach the end of Veteran homelessness and for policies that support this push. This past month, Sen. Blumenthal, ranking member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs (SVAC), announced the Veteran Housing Stability Act of 2015, which will modernize several existing Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) housing programs for homeless and at-risk veterans to increase access to safe, affordable, and permanent housing options. The Senator is also a co-sponsor of the Homeless Veterans Services Protection Act of 2015.
“While we pause to celebrate this momentous accomplishment, it is merely a milestone on the path to effectively ending all veteran homelessness in this state by the end of this year,” Tepper Bates said. “We’ve made great strides, but our work continues.”
The announcement took place at 1pm today at Victory Gardens, located on the VA Newington Campus.
For information and 2015 data on veteran homelessness in Connecticut, please download the 2015 CT Point-in-Time report.
Information on the Zero: 2016 project to end both veteran and chronic homelessness.