Annual Homeless Data Shows 10% Fewer People Used Homeless Shelters than in Previous Year, 40% Fewer Since 2012

State’s homelessness response system is working.


HARTFORD – The Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness (CCEH), the agency managing the state’s Homeless Management Information System (HMIS), released the annual shelter utilization statistics on Thursday showing a 10 percent decrease in the number of people who used emergency shelters from 2017 to 2018, and a 40 percent decrease since 2012. Over the course of 2018, 8,545 people utilized Connecticut’s shelter system. This includes 5,649 individuals and 1,289 families with children.

Over the past few years, the State of Connecticut implemented the Coordinated Assess Network (CAN) homelessness response system, which creates a single point of access for anyone in Connecticut experiencing a housing crisis or homelessness through 2-1-1 Connecticut. As the front door for the CAN system, 2-1-1 Connecticut works to find ways to assist callers to resolve their housing crisis, or when it cannot be resolved, refers people to one of seven regional consortia of homeless services providers, known as Coordinated Access Networks.’ This system has enabled the State of Connecticut to systematically identify people currently experiencing homelessness and those on the verge of homelessness, as well as to develop ways of preventing homelessness through connection to services or emergency financial assistance.

“These annual shelter use numbers show that the CAN system is working to assist people in resolving their housing crisis so that they don’t have to enter a homeless shelter,” says Richard Cho, CEO of the Coalition. “While we have more work to do to achieve our goals of ending homelessness in Connecticut, we are buoyed that our efforts are working to prevent homelessness whenever possible or otherwise make it rare, brief, and non-recurring.”

Statewide shelter diversion efforts have doubled in the past two years where more individuals and families do not have to enter emergency shelter by receiving one-time assistance for expenses such as first month’s rent, security deposits, car repairs, or utilities. These efforts are in part supported by CCEH’s be homeful project, in which private donations have helped to raise emergency assistance funding for families on the verge of homelessness. In addition, homeless services providers have, through the Coordinated Access Networks, helped to assist many more families, individuals, and youth who could not be diverted, to quickly obtain stable housing with appropriate supports.

“We are encouraged that the systems we have built to end homelessness in Connecticut are working,” says the Connecticut Department of Housing Commissioner Seila Mosquera-Bruno. “That is why the Department has invested its funding to build and sustain the CAN system and continues to partner with CCEH on efforts to end homelessness.”

“2-1-1 Connecticut is proud to be an integral part of the CAN system,” says Tanya Barrett from United Way of Connecticut. “Every day when we receive calls, we work to help families and individuals connect to a range of services and financial assistance to resolve their housing crisis and prevent them from having to enter shelter in the first place.”

CCEH collects and reports on several data points to measure both the scope of homelessness in Connecticut, as well as to track progress in reducing homelessness. The annual use of shelter statistics come from HMIS and capture the number of individuals staying in shelter and transitional housing throughout the year. While these data points do not provide a complete picture of everyone experiencing homelessness—for example, they do not include people who experience unsheltered homelessness—they help to indicate whether rates of homelessness are declining. This data serves as a complement to the annual Point-in-Time Count which is an annual census of the homeless population conducted on one night reflecting both sheltered and unsheltered individuals. The 2019 Point-in-Time Count and Youth Outreach & Count reports are expected to be published in the coming weeks.

Anyone experiencing a housing crisis in Connecticut should dial 2-1-1 to get connected to housing assistance.