Connecticut’s COVID-19 Homeless Response

On March 14, Governor Lamont instructed Connecticut residents to “stay safe, stay home.” This presented unique challenges for people who do not have a place to call home. Read on for a summary of our state’s strategy for supporting clients and shelter staff in staying safe during the crisis.

How You Can Help

COVID-19 Homeless Service Resource Guide

When Governor Lamont first told Connecticut to “Stay safe, stay home,” we immediately recognized the problem for the population we serve. Without homes, our clients would have difficulty keeping themselves safe. Moreover, clients heading out to the street could potentially further spread the dangerous coronavirus to others. In short, we were looking at a potential public health crisis of significant proportions.

First steps: A Look at the Data

CCEH took stock of the numbers. At the time, there were 2009 clients in shelter. Of these, 134 were over the age of 62 and were therefore especially vulnerable (COVID is particularly dangerous for seniors).

 

 

Under the auspices of the state’s Emergency Support Function 6 (ESF 6), CCEH worked with the Coordinated Access Networks (link) to analyze the specific layouts of the state’s 63 shelters to determine what steps we would need to take as a coalition to allow staff and clients to safe their social distance from one another.

Keeping Clients Safe through “shelter decompression”

As part of the state’s emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Ned Lamont authorized a large-scale effort to homeless shelter decompression effort in order to prevent outbreaks and community spread of COVID-19 among residents and staff in congregate homeless shelters. Through this effort, homeless shelters determined unable to comply with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention-recommended social distancing and bed spacing guidelines have relocated residents and staff into hotels and motels contracted by the state. This shelter decompression effort in currently authorized through the end of April, though may be extended as needed by the state’s emergency response system.

Why was shelter decompression needed?

Homeless shelters and the people who use them are highly vulnerable to infectious disease outbreaks and pandemics, including COVID-19. Within most homeless shelters, people sleep in dorm- or bunk-style (congregate) arrangements often spaced inches apart, and use shared bathrooms and common dining and living spaces. For this reason, infectious diseases that enter shelters often spread widely and quickly among residents and staff alike. When homeless people become infected, they often have greater challenges due to their underlying health conditions and poor health status and lack of consistent access to health care. Since many shelters are closed during the day, infected shelter residents have the potential for spreading infection further among the general public. Recognizing the potential risk that congregate homeless shelters pose in the COVID-19 pandemic, the CDC issued guidance to homeless shelters, calling on them to implement a number of infectious disease prevention measures, including increasing cleaning and disinfection and ensuring adequate spacing of a minimum of 3 feet and ideally 6 feet between beds. Such bed spacing was found to be difficult to impossible in many of Connecticut’s 63 homeless shelters.

What is our strategy for keeping clients and staff safe?

CCEH, the Department of Housing, and regional Coordinated Access Networks began to implement a series of measures to achieve this social distancing, including reducing new shelter admissions, increasing the pace of exits to permanent housing, and decompression shelters through relocation into hotels.

Who is coordinating this effort?

This effort is being coordinated as part of the State Emergency Operations Center, specifically by the Emergency Support Functions (ESF) 6 Mass Care Working Group, chaired by the Department of Social Services Commissioner Deidre Gifford. ESF 6 charged CCEH and the Department of Housing to co-lead a Homeless Shelter Taskforce to coordinate the 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 1,263 people in shelter into 13 hotels across the state.  We continue to work to keep staff and clients safe by seeking out PPE, staff for vacancies, and volunteers to support their efforts. Here is a snapshot of shelter residents who have been relocated as of April 12, 2020:

What is the 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. Here is a map of the system flowchart:

 

What services are being provided to relocated residents?

Staff of non-profit shelter provider organizations staff, with support from regional Coordinated Access Networks, are working to provide services to residents in the hotels. Services include residential aides, case management and services coordination, three meals per day, crisis intervention, provision of basic needs.

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 the spread of COVID-19 among homeless persons. However, it is anticipated that some persons relocated to hotels may found to be infected and develop symptoms. When this happens…

What’s next?

Once our coalition has mobilized the full 1,000+ clients into hotels, our next step will be to rapidly exit clients from the shelter system by assisting them in securing permanent housing. To do this, CCEH and the state are able to access rapid exit funds for emergency flexible assistance. CCEH is also partnering with CT Association of REALTORS® and Connecticut Coalition of Property Owners, and other associations of landlords to identify units for our current 2,009 clients.

How can you help?

For more information, please contact Madeline Ravich at mravich@cceh.org


COVID-19 Homeless Service Resource Guide

Connecticut Resources | National Resources Client Resources | Youth Resources | Food Resources

Summary of Connecticut Resources

If you have specific questions regarding DOH policy or protocol, please contact: Leigh Shields-Church or Kara Capobianco
For general questions, please contact: info@cceh.org

Summary of National Resources

Additional Resources for Working with Clients

Resources for Working with Youth

Food Security Resources:

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Alternative Police Responses

Homelessness presents challenges to police officers. Learn about innovative alternative approaches police are taking.

Speaker:
Brian Preleski
Connecticut State's Attorney

Colleges and Universities

This session is designed for Special Points of Contact (SPOCs) and Connecticut colleges and universities.

Panelist:
Stacey Havlik
Associate Professor
Villanova University

 

Disabilities and Homelessness

Join us for a special discussion about special considerations for resolving homelessness for people with disabilities.

Panelists:
Kathy Flaherty
Connecticut Legal Rights Project

 

KEYNOTE: COVID-19, Systemic Racism, and Homelessness

People of color are facing the trifecta as COVID's impact converge with racial disparities and the economy as a whole.

Keynote speaker:
Bobby Watts
President and CEO
National Healthcare for the Homeless Council

 

TRAINING: Critical Time Intervention in Rapid Re-Housing Programs

Critical Time Intervention (CTI) is a time-limited evidence-based practice that mobilizes support for society’s most vulnerable individuals during periods of transition. It facilitates community integration and continuity of care by ensuring that a person has enduring ties to their community and support systems during these critical periods. This workshop will provide an overview of CTI and focus on the benefits of using a housing-focused CTI case management model in Rapid Re-Housing programs. During the workshop we will discuss how to measure the impact of CTI, share successes and discuss challenges and lessons learned along the way. In addition to CTI, other best practices and recommended tools and strategies providers can use to improve the success of their Rapid Re-Housing programs will also be discussed.

Panelists:
Dr. Carolyn Hanesworth
Assistant Professor
Mercy College

Jessica Kubicki
Supportive Housing WORKS

 

When Kids Experience Homelessness

Identifying and resourcing minors experiencing homelessness relies on a patchwork of providers from Runaway Homeless Youth grantees, McKinney Vento liaisons and the Department of Children and Families. This presentation, discussion and response session will combine advocates, service providers and young people to take a critical look at the current system of services and suggest change. The strength of peer-to-peer networks will be emphasized in the context of school-community partnerships and youth leadership opportunities.

Panelist:
Marina Marmolejo
Executive Director
DreamKit

Tim Maguire
Youth Continuum

 

MUNICIPAL WORKSHOP: Sustainable CT Homeless Certification

CCM and Sustainable CT join CCEH in presenting a draft of proposed actions for a new Homelessness certification framework for feedback from your membership. Our goal would be to present our work to date as a proposed roadmap for how towns and cities across the state can take concrete steps to address homelessness in their towns and surrounding communities. This session will be a “roundtable” format to provide input on the framework and more broadly on how we can support municipal staff in meeting the needs of residents confronting homelessness.

Panelist:
Alyssa Norwood
Program Manager
Sustainable CT

 

KEYNOTE: Crisis in the Rental Market

What trends have we been seeing in the country’s rental market and how is the current crisis setting the stage for increased homelessness? Join us for a discussion about the economy and its implications for work to end homelessness.

Speaker:
Dr. Cheryl Young
Senior Economist
Zillow

Ann Oliva
Center for Budget and Policy

Jill Khadduri
Abt Associates

What you don’t know CAN hurt you: helping clients face their health fears

The COVID-19 pandemic has made even clearer that the key to health is regular health monitoring, screening, and testing. At the same time, people experiencing homelessness have had many of the same fears and anxiety with COVID-19 testing that they have exhibited when faced with testing and health monitoring for other health conditions--from cancer to HIV/AIDS to Hepatitis C. While these fears and anxiety are understandable--people experiencing homelessness are already under significant stress and also worry about how they will manage health conditions given their lack of stable housing--they nevertheless serve as barriers to getting people the care and treatment they need to improve their health status. This workshop will discuss how health fears have served as a barrier to helping people experiencing homelessness confront and address health issues, as well as on strategies to empower clients to overcome fears and confront their health needs.

Panelist:
Kasey Harding
Community Health Center

Linda Casey
Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness

 

Police - Social Worker Partnerships in Homeless Outreach

This panel will explore the potential of close working partnerships between law enforcement officers and social workers to engage and serve CT residents experiencing homelessness. We will hear from communities where these collaborations are already working, and present new training content CCEH is producing in partnership with DESPP to encourage more collaboration across the state.

Panelists:
Aubrey Lee Minkler
Community Services Coordinator
City of Bristol

Officer Ryan Gotowala
City of Bristol

Lori Walling
Assistant Program Director
CHD

Officer Michael DiGiovancarlo
City of Waterbury

Using the Past to Drive Today’s Change

In what ways have we grown as a society with regard to racial injustices in housing and how might history be repeating itself? Join us for a discussion on moments in history that have had major impacts on the housing and homelessness racial disparities we are seeing today, and learn about present day challenges and housing victories. Hear from a nationally recognized historian, statewide organizer and leader, as well as a local catalyst for change.

Panelists:
Bishop John Selders
Moral Monday CT

AJ Johnson
Urban Hope Refuge Church

KEYNOTE: Housing as a Right

Thought-leaders from the state, national, and international state discuss the idea of Housing as a Fundamental Human Right.

Speaker:
Leilani Farha
CEO
The Shift

Representative Jahana Hayes
U.S. House of Representatives

State Senator Saud Anwar
Connecticut State Legislature

Can they do that? Understanding and Protecting Tenant Rights in Connecticut

Join us for a Jeopardy-style quiz show, where experts on fair housing explain supports available to individuals facing eviction and then play out real-life scenarios involving clients of homeless services who have experienced questionable or exploitative practices from landlords.

Panelists:
Amy Eppler-Epstein
Staff Attorney
New Haven Legal Assistance

Jessica Lebrancis
Staff Attorney
CT Fair Housing

Welcome Keynote: Homelessness in 2020

Where are we now and how did we get here? A look at the challenges our sector has ahead of us during the pandemic.

Keynote:
Nan Roman
President and CEO
National Alliance to End Homelessness

TRAINING: The Homeless Students' Bill of Rights (McKinney-Vento Training)

The McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act provides for the delivery of services that remove barriers to the enrollment and retention of homeless children and youth in schools. Local homeless liaisons ensure that homeless children and youth are identified, enrolled immediately in school, and linked to services. Whether new to this role or not had an opportunity to attend a prior orientation, this session will be beneficial and provide information to assist school staff in the liaison role. While this webinar is targeted at liaisons, much of the information provided may be valuable to others working with children and youth experiencing homelessness.

Panelist:

Louis Tallarita
Education Consultant
CT Department of Education

MUNICIPAL WORKSHOP: Mayor’s Homelessness Prevention Task Force

CCM Homelessness Task Force Chairs Ben Blake and Erin Stewart join CCM’s Joe Delong and CCEH's Richard Cho in a roundtable discussion celebrating the role that municipalities played in staving off the spread of the pandemic within our state among those experiencing homelessness and to explore where we go from here. The session will kick off with introductions from Joe, Mayor Blake and Mayor Stewart and will include a presentation on the current state of homelessness in CT municipalities and the proposed Sustainable CT framework (in draft form for feedback) before opening up to discussion between mayors and first selectmen about measures towns and cities can take together to end homelessness in their communities.

Panelists:
Joseph DeLong
CEO
Connecticut Conference on Municipalities

Mayor Erin Stewart
City of New Britain

Mayor Benjamin Blake
City of Milford

 

ROUNDTABLE: The Changing Landscape of Homeless Outreach During COVID-19

This roundtable discussion will ask homeless outreach providers how their work has changed in 2020, and allow people with lived experience to share what homeless outreach services meant for them.

Facilitator:
David Gonzalez Rice
Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness

 

Building Our Movement

It takes a village to end homelessness. Join us for a vibrant discussion about how we can mobilize people throughout Connecticut to advocate for our work.

Panelists:
Matt McDermott
CONECT

 

Housing Plus Services: Understanding and Meeting the Health and Support Needs of People Experiencing Homelessness

Join us for a special discussion about how we understand and meet the needs of people experiencing homelessness.

Speaker:
Robert Plant
Beacon Health Options

Changing the Narrative that Pets are a Barrier to Housing

This panel will launch our new statewide program for flexible emergency assistance for households experiencing homelessness with pets. This fund is generously funded by the PetSmart Foundation, and will be accessible to cover veterinary costs, pet deposits, vaccinations, and other associated costs that prevent people from staying in or finding housing. We will focus on the importance of keeping households with their pets and the unnecessary trauma separation can cause amidst an already stressful housing crisis. We will also discuss the specifics of the program and how to access the funds through CCEH.

Panelists:
Kelly Balthazor
PetSmart Charities

Garrett Parsons
Interfaith Hospitality Network of Greater Cincinnati

A Tour of the Homeless Response System

Join staff from 211, a local diversion center, and a local shelter for a special tour of the homeless response system. This tour will help you understand how our members partner to assist clients facing homelessness.

Presenter:
Tanya Barrett
United Way of Connecticut

Shutting the Revolving Door

Hear from state legislators and experts on innovative approaches our state is taking to ensure that clients leaving the prison system are able to re-enter society with stable housing.

Panelists:
TBA

KEYNOTE: Justice Starts at Home: A Conversation on Criminal Justice, Housing, and Segregation

Come hear national-level speakers explore how we as a society can do better by clients re-entering society.

Moderator:
Kelan Lyons
CT Mirror

Panelists:
Donal Whitehead Jr
National Coalition for the Homeless

Monica Bell
Yale Law School

Brandon McGee
Connecticut State Legislature

Angel Quiros
Connecticut Department of Correction

Marc Pelka
Connecticut Office of Policy and Management

Training: Shelter Diversion

This workshop will explore problem-solving tools that you can use to support clients in finding housing solutions.

Speaker:
Marcy Thompson
ICF

Family Homelessness

Join us for a special discussion about special considerations for working with families experiencing homelessness.

Panelists:
TBA

Eliminating Shelter Waitlists

People who cannot be diverted from shelter end up on long-waitlists when there is no room is shelters. This panel discussion will explore ways to eliminate the shelter waitlist.

Panelist:
Kay Moshier McDivitt
Senior Technical Assistance Specialist
National Alliance to End Homelessness

COVID-19 Guidance

The pandemic has been a game-changer for the homeless response system. Join experts for a discussion of guidance on best practices during this difficult time.

Speaker:
TBA

Youth Homelessness

Join us for a special discussion about special considerations for working with homeless and unaccompanied youth.

Panelist:
Omar McDew
New Britain High School

 

KEYNOTE: Get Out The Vote Rally

The stakes have never been higher. Join us for a special conversation about why this upcoming election matters so much and hear how grassroots advocates are adopting innovative approaches to getting out the vote during COVID-19.

Speaker:
Jerry Jones
National Field Director
National Alliance to End Homelessness

 

PANEL: Building our Movement

It takes a village to end homelessness. Join us for a vibrant discussion about how we can mobilize people throughout Connecticut to advocate for our work.

Panelists:
Matt McDermott
CONECT

 

Hamden Virtual Town Hall

Join a special panel showcasing how one of Connecticut's 169 towns is finding innovative ways to meet the needs of town residents facing homelessness.

Panelist:
Adam Sendroff
Town of Hamden

 

This is a test of hovering .

Monica Bell

Associate Professor of Law & Sociology

Yale Law School

Monica C. Bell is an Associate Professor of Law & Sociology at Yale Law School. Her areas of expertise include law and inequality, policing and the criminal legal system, welfare and public benefits law, housing law and residential segregation, and race and the law. Her scholarship has appeared or is forthcoming in the Yale Law Journal, American Journal of Sociology, NYU Law Review, Law & Society Review, Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, and other journals. She has also published writing in popular outlets such as the Los Angeles Review of Books, the Washington Post, and The Appeal.

Louis Tallarita

Education Consultant

Connecticut Department of Education

Louis Tallarita, LMSW is an Education Consultant with the Connecticut State Department of Education and currently serves as the McKinney-Vento State Coordinator for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth program.

Donal Whitehead Jr

Executive Director

National Coalition for the Homeless

Donald Hugh Whitehead Jr. is recognized as a leading expert on homelessness, having served as the Executive Director of the Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless, Assistant Director at St. Vincent de Paul of Baltimore, Program Director at Ohio Valley Goodwill, Grant Manager at Goodwill of Greater Washington and Director of Communications at Greenpeace Ohio. Donald served two terms as President of the Board of Directors for the National Coalition for the Homeless, two terms on the Board of Directors for Faces and Voices of Recovery and two terms on the Georgetown Center for Cultural Competency.

Nan Roman

President and Chief Executive Officer

National Alliance to End Homelessness

Ms. Roman is a leading national voice on the issue of homelessness. Under her guidance, the Alliance has successfully identified and promoted innovative strategies for ending homelessness that have been adopted by communities across the country. In her role, Ms. Roman works closely with members of Congress and the Administration, as well as with officials and advocates at the state and local levels. She collaborates with Alliance partners to educate the public about the real nature of homelessness and effective solutions. She has researched and written on the issue of homelessness, regularly speaks at events around the country and frequently serves as an expert on the issue for the media. Her perspective on homelessness and its solutions comes from more than 20 years of local and national experience in the areas of poverty and community-based organizations.

Kay Moshier McDivitt

Senior Technical Assistance Specialist

National Alliance to End Homelessness

Ms. Moshier McDivitt has more than 20 years experience developing and administering rapid re-housing and homelessness programs, as well as leading a local homeless coalition and Continuum of Care. As a Technical Assistance Specialist, she develops and delivers training and technical assistance on best practices, including rapid re-housing, retooling transitional housing and building a crisis response system. Additionally, Ms. Moshier McDivitt developed the Alliance’s Rapid Re-Housing Learning Collaborative, which helps rapid re-housing providers build their capacity and adopt best practices. Before joining the Alliance, Ms. Moshier McDivitt served as the Community Homeless Advisor for the Lancaster County (Pa.) Coalition to End Homelessness, providing leadership for the county’s 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness and Continuum of Care. She also served as Vice President for Programs for Tabor Community Services Inc., during which time she oversaw a number of model program initiatives focused on ending homelessness, including prevention and rapid re-housing approaches. Ms. Moshier McDivitt received her degrees in Social Work and Sociology from Eastern Mennonite University.

Ann Oliva

Visiting Senior Fellow

Center for Budget and Policy

Ms. Oliva is a Visiting Senior Fellow with the Housing team. Prior to joining the Center, she was the Senior Policy Advisor at the Corporation for Supportive Housing. From 2007 to 2017 Oliva was a career federal official at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), most recently overseeing the Department’s multi-billion dollar homelessness and HIV/AIDS housing portfolio as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Special Needs. She also worked as Director of Programs at the Community Partnership in Washington, D.C. and as a human services consultant in multiple communities nationwide. In 2015, Oliva was named one of the 50 Most Influential Leaders in HUD’s 50-year history and was honored with the True Colors Fund’s True Leader Award. Moreover, she was a finalist for a "Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal" (Sammie) for the distinction of management excellence in 2011, and was part of an interagency team that won a Sammie for reducing veteran homelessness in 2012.
Oliva has a degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE) from the University of Pittsburgh.

Jessica Labrencis

Attorney

The Connecticut Fair Housing Center

Ms. Labrencis joined the Center as a fair housing enforcement staff attorney in 2014. Prior to joining the Center, Ms. Labrencis was an associate attorney at a law firm in San Diego where she represented employees in discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wrongful termination, and wage and hour cases. She received her B.A. in English from Stonehill College, and her J.D. magna cum laude from California Western School of Law, where she was a member of the Public Service Honors Society.

Carolyn Hanesworth, PhD, LCSW

Assistant Professor of Social Work

Mercy College

Carolyn Hanesworth is a Critical Time Intervention Trainer, Researcher, and Consultant. In addition to her work with the Center for the Advancement of Critical Time Intervention, Dr. Hanesworth is an Assistant Professor of Social Work at Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, NY. She has worked as a service provider, leader, and consultant for organizations serving homeless children and families in Texas and New York City for the past 25 years. Recently, she served as the Project Director for the CTI for Rapid Rehousing Pilot Study in Connecticut, where she assisted in adapting and implementing CTI for Rapid Rehousing recipients.

Kelly Balthazor

Regional Relationship Manager

PetSmart

With more than twenty years’ experience in corporate philanthropy, social responsibility, and grantmaking, Kelly Balthazor started her nonprofit career in fundraising and corporate partnerships. In 2016, Kelly joined PetSmart Charities as a Regional Relationship Manager where she directs the owned pets grant portfolio for the East Region. As the largest animal welfare funder in North America, PetSmart Charities annually distributes over $35 million in grants and adoption rewards to fulfill their mission to find lifelong, loving homes for all pets by supporting programs and thought leadership that bring people and pets together.

Alyssa Norwood

Program Manager

Sustainable CT

Alyssa manages the certification process and data analysis, oversees action development and revision, and provides legal counsel to Sustainable CT, a voluntary certification program to accelerate municipal sustainability actions. Alyssa earned her Juris Doctor with honors and her Master of Public Health Degree in Health Law and Policy from the University of Connecticut. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree cum laude in Biology from Harvard University. She formerly served as Project Manager for Connecticut’s Legislative Commission on Aging, where she led the state’s livable communities initiative and served as a policy expert on wide-ranging health, planning and zoning, transportation and housing issues. Alyssa has also worked for the Connecticut Association of Directors of Health and the Connecticut Health Foundation. She began her career as an attorney at the law firm of Robinson and Cole.

Marina Marmolejo

Master of Public Health

DreamKit

Marina Marmolejo, MPH is an anti-poverty advocate that is changing how we engage with communities experiencing homelessness. Marina is courageously innovating in a space that has seen very little innovation over the last decade. She believes homeless agencies are overworked and understaffed, and the current antiquated systems cannot adapt to the rapidly changing needs of folks experiencing homelessness. Marina sees the power of technology, real-time data, and human-centered design to create sustainable solutions for this vulnerable and incredibly resilient population. After graduating from the Yale School of Public Health, Marina founded DreamKit, a web-based app that financially supports youth experiencing homelessness to build skills and reconnect with their community.

Stacy Havlik

Associate Professor

Villanova University

Stacey Havlik is an associate professor in the Department of Education and Counseling at Villanova University, where she is the graduate counseling program director. She teaches both graduate and undergraduate level counseling courses. She received her Ph.D. in Counselor Education from the University of Maryland. As a former school counselor, she specializes in training pre-service school counselors and other school personnel to be leaders and advocates in meeting the diverse needs of all students. Her research interests include investigating the academic, social/emotional, and career/college development needs of students experiencing homelessness and first-generation college students. She has published and presented her research nationally and internationally and has been featured on national media outlets sharing her findings. She is currently a consultant for the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY) Single Point of Contact Pilot Program where she provides trainings for states across the country developing SPOC programs.

Saud Anwar

Connecticut State Senator

State Senator Saud Anwar was elected in February 2019 to represent the residents of the 3rd State Senate District towns of East Hartford, East Windsor, Ellington and South Windsor. Saud was first elected to public office in 2011 as a member of South Windsor’s Town Council. He has served two terms as South Windsor mayor, once from 2013 to 2015 and once from 2017 to 2019. Saud is a medical doctor with specializations in treating lung diseases and critical care medicine, occupational and environmental medicine. He currently serves as Chair of the Department of Internal Medicine at Manchester Memorial and Rockville General Hospitals. Saud was trained in pulmonary and critical care medicine at, and holds a Master’s Degree in Public Health from, Yale University.

Jerry Jones

National Field Director

National Alliance to End Homelessness 

Jerry Jones is the National Field Director at the National Alliance to End Homelessness. He is the former Executive Director of the National Coalition for the Homeless and served on the senior staff of the Center for Community Change for ten years. Other past roles include National Director of Project Vote and Policy Director at the Inner City Law Center. For four years prior to joining the Alliance’s staff, Jerry coordinated the Provider Alliance of 75 organizations providing services and housing to people experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles. His experience includes field mobilization and grassroots policy campaigns.

Leilani Farha

Global Director

The Shift 

Leilani is the Global Director of The Shift, an international movement to secure the right to housing and the former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing (2014-2020). The Shift was launched in 2017 with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and United Cities and Local Government and works with multi-level stakeholders around the world including with several city governments in North America and Europe.

Leilani’s work is animated by the principle that housing is a social good, not a commodity. She has helped develop global human rights standards on the right to housing, including through her topical reports on homelessness, the financialization of housing, informal settlements, rights-based housing strategies, and the first UN Guidelines for the implementation of the right to housing. She is the central character in the award-winning documentary PUSH regarding the financialization of housing, directed by the Swedish filmmaker Fredrik Gertten. PUSH is screening around the world and to continue its momentum Leilani and Fredrik now co-host a podcast – PUSHBACK Talks - about finance, housing and human rights.

Dr. Cheryl Young

Senior Economist

Zillow

Prior to joining Zillow Group, Dr. Young was a consultant with the World Bank’s Urban Development Unit. She has also served as an associate with Bankable Frontier Associates’ housing finance practice, led a housing research program at the Centre for Development Finance—a think-tank in India and was a project manager for New York City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development. Cheryl holds a Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning from U.C. Berkeley, a Master in Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and a B.A. from Columbia University. She currently serves as a Member of the Board of Directors at the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation.

Anderson Curtis

Smart Justice Field Organizer

American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut

Anderson Curtis serves as a Smart Justice field organizer for the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut (ACLU-CT). In his role, Anderson is tasked with mobilizing and expanding the ACLU Smart Justice Connecticut campaign through strategic public engagement, identification, education, and recruitment of supports and volunteers to participate in ending mass incarceration in Connecticut. Anderson is a proud alumnus of Gateway Community College Drug and Alcohol Recovery Counselor (DARC) and was the DARC 2009 Student of the Year. He recently completed the Community Foundation of New Haven’s Neighborhood Leadership program. Anderson developed Life Support, which is a Pilot program funded by Community Foundation and an extension of his mentoring of men on parole, helping them navigate their reentry. After 12 years of seeking paths of healing and freedom, Anderson lives with hope and dignity, despite barriers to employment and housing from the collateral consequences of incarceration, by being a voice for the unheard and uninvited.

Fionnuala Darby-Hudgens

Director of Operations

The Connecticut Fair Housing Center

Ms. Darby-Hudgens returned to the Center in 2017. She has spent her professional career with the goal of pursuing meaningful, social justice work, with a focus on civil rights advocacy. At the Center, she promotes an awareness of fair housing issues across the state and works to help Connecticut residents advocate for their own fair housing rights. Finn’s research on exclusionary zoning and fair housing policies past and present history have been published in many formats, and contribute to her expertise in Connecticut’s land use policies. She earned her B.A. from Trinity College and her M.P.A. from the University of Connecticut.

Kathleen Harding

Director of The Center for Key Populations

Community Health Center, Inc

Ms. Harding has been an employee at Community Health Center, Inc. for fourteen years. She began her career at CHCI as the Director of the HRSA funded Ryan White Program providing comprehensive HIV/AIDS care for individuals living with HIV/AIDS. Over the last ten years, Ms. Harding has diversified the portfolio of the Center for Key Populations by assuming administrative and programmatic responsibility for the Healthcare for the Homeless Program (WYA), Early Childhood Programs, Migrant Farm Worker Programs, CT Strong Adolescent Program, Hepatitis C Programs, Substance Use Disorder Programs, LGBTQ Health Initiatives and Health Advocacy Programs. Ms. Harding was also responsible for the development and implementation of new HIV Prevention Programs and the initiation of CHCI’s Centers for Disease Control funded PrEP (Pre-exposure Prophylaxis) Program. All of these programs are designed to respond to the needs of vulnerable populations that experience disparities in health coverage and engage them in comprehensive healthcare services. Most recently, Ms. Harding has been a leader in the establishment of CHCI’s Weitzman Learning Academy, offering webinars, one on one coaching and custom site visits to assist agencies in implementing funding related to Substance Use Disorder Services, HIV, homeless programs, programs for the recently incarcerated and other key services.

Joe DeLong

Executive Director & CEO

Connecticut Conference of Municipalities

Joe DeLong is CCM's Executive Director & CEO. He received his Master of Business Administration from West Virginia University (WVU). While attending WVU he was a standout athlete on the football team and helped the Mountaineers to
an undefeated regular season in 1993.
Prior to joining CCM in April 2015, DeLong spent time as a State House Majority Leader and the Chief Executive of a $100 million public/private corporation.

Jessica Kubicki

Director of Programs

Supportive Housing WORKS

Jessica Kubicki, LCSW, joined Supportive Housing WORKS in January 2016 as the Rapid Exits Manager and transitioned her role to the Director of Programs in May 2017. She also serves as the Leader of the Norwalk Housing First Team which focuses on the collaborative efforts of providers within Greater Norwalk to provide services and resources to the most vulnerable, chronically homeless individuals and families. Jessica provides leadership in maintaining a strong housing placement system, collaborates with providers through the Housing First Collaboratives within the four sub-communities of Fairfield County, and assists in the implementation of statewide housing policies and procedures within the Coordinated Access Network. Jessica also provides clinical and programmatic support to the Rapid Re-Housing Program.

Tiheba Bain

Executive Director

Women Against Mass Incarceration

Ms. Bain is Founder and Executive Director of Women Against Mass Incarceration, a grassroots organization empowering justice involved women and girls. Currently she is on staff at The National Council for Incarcerated and formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls. Tiheba is a public speaker who played an integral role in passing legislation SB13 for incarcerated women and girls in the State of Connecticut. She sits on the African American
sub commission of the Commission on Women, Children, Seniors, Equity & Opportunity. Tiheba also participated on the State Collateral Consequences Task Force. In the past she sat on the mass incarceration sub-committee for Governor Ned Lamont’s Transitional Policy committee.
Ms. Bain hosted the second annual Free Her conference. She also spoke at Columbia University, Yale University, UCONN, John Jay College, the CT Public Defender National Conference and at IMRP Annual Building Bridges Conference. Recently Ms. Bain was inducted into the CT Hall of Change for her exemplary work in the community. While obtaining her dual undergraduate degree in Psychology and Women and Criminal Justice, she co-wrote a chapter of the book Race Education and Reintegration. Ms. Bain also is an alumni of Heyman Center for Humanities Justice-in-Education Scholar program, at Columbia University.

Aubrey Minkler

Program Coordinator of Community Service

City of Bristol, CT

Aubrey Minkler currently works as the Program Coordinator of Community Service for the City of Bristol. The Bristol Office of Community Service aims to empower city residents through short term case management and outreach. Prior to this roll Aubrey worked as the Assistant Program Coordinator of Psychosocial Rehabilitation and Supported Employment Program at Community Mental Health Affiliates in New Britain. She also recently worked as the lead facilitator on the Peer Fit Pilot Project through Dartmouth University. The project aimed to study the cardiometabolic risk reduction in patients with severe mental illness.

Ofc. Matthew Gotowala

Police Officer

City of Bristol, CT

Officer Gotowala has served the city of Bristol for nine past years as a Police Officer and for and the last three years as a School Resource Officer and Community Officer. He currently patrols Bracket Park and works directly in Bristol Central High School. For the past three years he has also worked as part of the City of Bristol Youth Commission.

Adam Sendroff

Community Development Manager

Town of Hamden, CT

Adam Sendroff is the Community Development Manager for the Town of Hamden, CT. He is a former chairperson of the Hamden Board of Education, of which he was a member for 10 years. Adam previously worked in academic publishing for over two decades, and is currently pursuing a Masters in Public Health.

Marc Pelka

Undersecretary of Criminal Justice Policy and Planning

Connecticut Office of Policy and Management

Marc Pelka is Undersecretary of Criminal Justice Policy and Planning at the Office of Policy and Management, an agency providing information and analysis to formulate public policy for the state on Governor Lamont’s behalf. His responsibilities rest at the intersection of criminal justice data analysis, policy development and implementation, administration of state and federal grants, and convenings of state and local officials as well as stakeholders. Prior to this position, he worked for ten years at The Council of State Governments Justice Center, where he helped state policymakers from across the country use a Justice Reinvestment approach to avoid corrections costs and reinvest in public safety strategies. Reinvestments states made as part of this approach included community behavioral health treatment as well as victim services. Prior to this experience, he held public affairs and policy positions in the Connecticut House of Representatives. He earned a Bachelor of Arts with Honors from New York University a Master in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School

Garrett Parsons

Pet Program Coordinator

Interfaith Hospitality Network of Greater Cincinnati

Garrett Parsons, LSW - Garrett serves pet owners experiencing homelessness as Interfaith Hospitality Network of Greater Cincinnati’s Pet Support Coordinator. For the past 4 years, Garrett and a team of dedicated volunteers have kept hundreds of pets with their families and out of animal shelters. In his work, Garrett ensures pet owners struggling in the Greater Cincinnati area have access to the resources they need. He also tries to bridge the gap between animal welfare and social services so the community can work together to keep families together. Garrett is active in the animal welfare community working with domestic and wild animals.

Reverend Doctor John L. Selders

Minister

Amistad United Church of Christ

The Right Reverend Doctor John L. Selders, Jr. is an ordained minister serving in the United Church of Christ, the Organizing Pastor of Amistad United Church of Christ.
Bishop Selders has done his academic and theological reflection attending Life Christian Bible College, Webster University, Eden Theological Seminary and Anglican Divinity School. In addition to being a talented award winning songwriter, musician and performer with local, national, and international credits, he is also the Bishop Presider of The Inter-Denominational Conference of Liberation Congregations and Ministries (ICLCM) and is the Co-Convening Bishop of The Sacred College of Progressive Episcopates (SCPE). Bishop Selders is a founding member of Moral Monday CT, a grassroots statewide organization committed to a wide range of social justice issues.

Pastor AJ Johnson

Community Organizer

Christian Activities Council

Pastor AJ Johnson is a faith-influenced voice for urban resurgence and revival and a pace-setting champion for justice and community-wide uplift. As a trailblazer, Johnson leads The Urban Hope Refuge Church, an influential church where passionate worship and community activism meet in Hartford, Connecticut. Johnson works at the Christian Activities Council as a Community Organizer. He spearheads Small Business Night Out, a network of minority-owned businesses and entrepreneurs; Calling all Brothers, a widely hailed male mentor-ship and leadership organization and Brothers Johnson 1929 Hat Company, a clothing brand reflecting strength, loyalty, and distinction.

Theresa Geary

Director of Operations

Connecticut Humane Society

As the Director of Operations, Theresa is responsible for directing and overseeing the daily operations in all three of the adoption centers and the Fox Memorial Clinic. This includes animal care, pet intake, adoptions, medical care, behavioral care and facilities maintenance.
Prior to CHS, Geary was VP of Operations at Dumb Friends League in Denver, known nationally for its innovative work and leadership among leading animal welfare organizations. Prior to working in Denver, she was the Director of Operations at the New York City Animal Care and Control and held positions at the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Humane Society of Boulder, and the Larimer Humane Society. Geary holds a B.S. from the University of Connecticut in Animal Science.

Jahana Hayes

U.S. Representative for the Fifth Congressional District of Connecticut

U.S. Congress

Representative Hayes was elected to the United States House of Representatives in November 2018, making her the first African-American woman and the first African-American Democrat to ever represent the state of Connecticut in Congress. Hayes first garnered widespread notoriety while serving as a teacher at John F. Kennedy High School in Waterbury, when she was selected as the Connecticut Teacher of the Year, before going on to earn the distinction of 2016 National Teacher of the Year (NTOY), leading to an invitation to the White House by then President Barack Obama. In her capacity as NTOY, Hayes traveled the country and the world as an ambassador for public education engaging all stakeholders in policy discussions meant to improve outcomes for students.
She is a graduate of Naugatuck Valley Community College, Southern Connecticut State University, the University of Saint Joseph and the University of Bridgeport. Having earned a Bachelor’s of Arts in history and secondary education, a Master’s of Arts in curriculum and instruction, and a degree in administrative leadership.

Amy Eppler-Epstein

Visiting Clinical Lecturer in Law

Yale Law School

Amy Eppler-Epstein is a Visiting Clinical Lecturer in Law at Yale Law School. She has been a staff attorney at New Haven Legal Assistance since 1986, focusing primarily on housing law, with forays into family law/domestic violence, immigration, and re-entry work. Over the years she has argued before the CT Supreme Court to establish a right to shelter under the state constitution; advocated with nationwide impact to protect the rights of tenants post foreclosure; won a $2.845 million judgment in fair housing litigation in federal court; created a coalition to reform CT’s sex offender registration laws; developed a pro se DACA (deferred action for childhood arrivals) clinic to help immigrant youth; created an innovative method of legal services delivery through a school-based clinic; and litigated to protect licensed home day care providers from eviction.

Bobby Watts

Chief Executive Officer

National Health Care for the Homeless Council 

Bobby Watts is the CEO of the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, which supports the 300 Health Care for the Homeless Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) programs and 100 Medical Respite programs with training, technical assistance, policy analysis and advocacy to end homelessness. Bobby has more than 25 years’ experience in administration, direct service, and implementation of homeless health services. He served as the executive director of New York City’s Care for the Homeless from 2005-2017. Under his tenure, the FQHC agency tripled in size, added major programs and initiatives –including a shelter for 200 mentally ill and medically frail women and became licensed as a Diagnostic and Treatment Center in New York State. He has served on numerous boards, governmental task forces, and workgroups, and as an inaugural member of the NYS Interagency Council on Homelessness, where he co-chaired its Health Committee. He is a graduate of Cornell University and Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health where he earned a Master’s in Public Health in health administration and an M.S. in epidemiology. He also has a Certificate of Theological Studies from Alliance Theological Seminary in Nyack, NY.