2016 Count Finds Homelessness Continues to Decline Across Connecticut
20% Decrease in Long-Term Homeless Living With Disabilities
Hartford, CT — The annual count of homelessness in Connecticut on January 26 of this year shows that Connecticut continues to make major gains in the effort to end homelessness, according to Point-in-Time Count reports released May 10.
The January 26 count, coordinated by the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness (CCEH), showed that overall, homelessness in Connecticut is down nearly four percent compared to 2015, and has dropped by 13 percent since 2007. The count registered the lowest total since statewide counts started in Connecticut in 2007, and identified 3,902 individuals experiencing homelessness (down from 4,038 in 2015, the previous low point in the annual count).
The continuing decline follows major investments to end homelessness by the administration of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and the General Assembly, in tandem with concerted efforts to coordinate and target resources at the community level.
The number of chronically homeless (those experiencing long-term homeless and living with severe disabilities) decreased 20 percent across Connecticut compared to the 2015 count, continuing a sharp downward trend in this population since 2014. The state is part of the national Zero: 2016 initiative to end veteran homelessness, a goal set by President Obama, and to end chronic homelessness by the end of 2016. The federal government confirmed in February that Connecticut was the second state in the nation to functionally end veteran homelessness by housing all long-term homeless veterans and securing housing for any veterans newly identified as homeless in less than 90 days.
“Along with Governor Malloy, our communities have embraced the goals of Zero: 2016. Securing victory on ending veteran homelessness proves that working together – federal and state resources combined with the nonprofits on the ground – we can accomplish great things. These results show that we are on track to end chronic homelessness, as well,” said CCEH Executive Director Lisa Tepper Bates.
“This substantial drop in chronic homelessness is a direct result of the great teamwork of providers in our communities, who are coordinating their efforts, targeting their resources, and working more closely together than ever before to house our most vulnerable individuals experiencing long term homelessness,” said Evonne Klein, Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Housing.
People who are chronically homeless tend to cycle in and out of expensive public services, like emergency departments, hospital in-patient care, and jails – racking up high costs while their homelessness persists. Studies across the nation show that communities can decrease costs by up to 70% when they house this population with appropriate supports. “Ending chronic homelessness is a wise investment, it will save lives and save public funds,” said Alicia Woodsby, Executive Director of the Partnership for Strong Communities and the state coordinator of the Reaching Home Campaign to end homelessness in Connecticut.
The count found only 45 veterans in emergency shelters, less than half the number identified in 2015, most of whom are engaged in VA services and on their way to housing. “We cannot ensure that no veteran will ever be homeless again,” said Deborah Deegan, Acting Director of the VA’s West Haven Errera Community Care Center. “The victory we have secured is to build a system through which we can reach every veteran experiencing homelessness quickly, and offer them appropriate housing in 90 days or less.”
The count found 673 people unsheltered, a small increase over 2015. This change in the unsheltered count is likely due to the relatively warm weather the night of the 2016 count, compared to the extremely low temperatures and severe weather conditions the night of the 2015 count. National data indicates that unsheltered counts may vary depending on weather conditions, with colder climates generally showing lower rates of unsheltered people when a count is conducted on extremely cold nights.
Family homelessness remained level, with 1,332 people in families counted as experiencing homelessness in the 2016 count (seven fewer families, but 13 individuals more than the 2015 family count). Connecticut’s first-ever count of homeless youth in 2015 showed some 3,000 unaccompanied youth age 24 and under experiencing homelessness in our state. “We have made great strides in ending the homelessness of key populations,” said CCEH’s Bates, “We need to carry forward that momentum, teamwork, and innovation to end the homelessness of vulnerable youth and families in our state.”
On the night of January 26, 2016 in Connecticut:
TOTAL HOMELESS POPULATION LOWEST COUNTED IN A CONNECTICUT PIT: 3,902 total individuals counted – the lowest ever statewide Connecticut Point-In-Time count.
SHELTERED HOMELESSNESS DOWN BY 6%: 3,229 people were counted in shelters and similar facilities – a drop of nearly 6% over 2015 and a reduction of 18% since 2007.
CHRONIC HOMELESSNESS DROPS SIGNIFICANTLY: The number of chronically homelessness (long term homeless with a severe disability) dropped by 20% since 2015.
FEW VETERANS COUNTED AS HOMELESS: Only 45 veterans were counted in emergency shelters.
NEARLY 20% OF HOMELESS CITE EXPERIENCE OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: 19% of adults in shelters and similar facilities report that they are survivors of domestic violence.
The annual Point-In-Time Count, completed each winter by an army of volunteers, is required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to take a snapshot of homelessness in every state across the country. The Connecticut count is coordinated by the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness. This year’s count included all people (adults and children) experiencing homelessness in shelter and unsheltered – living in places not meant for human habitation such as abandoned buildings and under bridges – in addition to those in emergency or domestic violence shelters and transitional housing programs.
Please click here to download the full “Connecticut Counts: 2016 Report on Homelessness in Connecticut.”
To read more about about what it means to end homelessness in Connecticut, click here.
To read Governor Malloy’s Press Release, click here.
Training and Communications Coordinator