As we enter a new year, we all have much to think about. For a number of years now, we have been making steady progress. The number of people utilizing shelters has gone down as has the average amount of time people experience homelessness, and we know that part of this can be attributed to the important work so many members of our coalition are doing every day to help divert people from homelessness, to help those entering shelters reconnect to housing quickly, and engaging people on the streets to get them housed.
But, it’s not enough. With each day the temperature drops, every individual living in a place unfit for human habitation is at real risk, which is why we need to pay attention and be creative about how our coalition can more deeply engage communities around Connecticut in everyday efforts to end homelessness.
Which leads me to ask: what can we, as a coalition, do to ensure to make sure every individual experiencing homelessness is quickly identified and assisted? There’s a lot. We can make sure our data reflects the current situation in Connecticut so that communities around the state have an accurate census of how many people in their regions are experiencing homelessness. We can work together to figure out the underlying factors that continue to drive people to fall into homelessness. And most importantly, we can innovate. If there is one thing that national news is teaching us, it’s that we need to seek out solutions that are both compassionate and financially prudent.
This is the next frontier of our work of our coalition, and we need to take new approaches to make sure that we are truly making it possible to end homelessness for everybody experiencing this terrible situation now and well into the future. As we move forward, I am calling upon you to ask for your help, and there are many ways that you can play a role in our efforts. If you work for one of our member agencies, please continue to do great work and let us know how our organization can better support you in your day-to-day efforts. If you aren’t already a member of our coalition, please think about doing so to show your support. If you speak regularly to policymakers, please tell our leaders at the State Capitol and in government recognize the need to fully invest in our homelessness response system and contribute to solutions. And if you are a concerned citizen, tell your mayors, first selectmen, and state representative, that you care about making homelessness a thing of the past.
In the months ahead, we will be giving you many new ways to interface with our efforts and we hope you will raise your hand to help. Thank you for your passion for our cause. We are all in this together!