INITIATIVE – ZERO 2016
Developed and led by New York-based Community Solutions, Zero: 2016 aims to end chronic and veteran homelessness by the end of 2016 through the use of community partnerships and cost-effective practices. By streamlining and standardizing the housing process, roadblocks are effectively minimized for all people experiencing homelessness in communities throughout the United States. One major component of Zero: 2016 includes the creation of a list that is continuously-updated. The list includes names of each person experiencing homelessness within a community. Here in Fairfield County, this system of standardized tracking ensures our community’s most vulnerable citizens are quickly and efficiently connected with the most appropriate housing option.
Additionally, Zero: 2016 empowers communities to end chronic and veteran homelessness in their region. This initiative is supported by the creation of a national platform for innovation, knowledge capture and cross-team sharing; government and philanthropic leadership engagement; and intensive coaching to partnering communities.
INITIATIVE – FAITH LEADERS’ COLLABORATIVE
On October 17 the Opening Doors Faith Leaders Collaborative held a groundbreaking Youth Homeless Symposium from 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm, at Grace Farms, New Canaan
Faith leaders primarily engaged with youth gathered together with community-based providers from youth-serving agencies to gain and share understanding around the causes of youth and young adult homelessness and to discuss resources and best practices for meeting the needs of homeless and unstably housed youth and young adults in Fairfield County. Supportive Housing Works' Lisa Bahadosingh provided an overview of youth and young homelessness followed by a member of the Youth Advisory Board sharing her personal lived experience of homelessness and how the Faith Community can provide practical care assistance. Annmarie Boulay of The Underground (a ministry of Wintonbury Church in Bloomfield, CT) gave a compelling overview of human trafficking in CT which is at a very high level in the Bridgeport and Danbury area and how one church has responded. Lisa McKenna of RYASAP's Mediation Center presented on mediation and conflict resolution as an intervention and ran a mock mediation with audience members, followed by a panel discussion on mediation with Rachel Exavier of the Council of Churches of Greater Bridgeport. After the presentation on mediation, youth pastors Jerry Martinez of Impact Mentoring and Phyllis Lingard of Generation Joshua Ministries discussed host homes as a short-term solution to a youth's or young adult's housing crises. The session concluded with regional breakout discussions centered around identifying local needs and appropriate responses within local communities. Follow-on sessions will be planned to strategize around those identified needs and how resources can be put in place to meet those needs through the faith community working in collaboration with service providers.
The purpose of the Faith Leaders’ Collaborative is to harness the moral voice, energy and resources of faith communities, collaborating with providers, to end homelessness.
Mirroring the collaboration of providers across the region, ODFC leadership further expanded the partnership to include faith leaders and their communities, who are eager to have more of an impact in ending homelessness. The Faith Leaders’ meet as a regional group in quarterly plenary sessions. Currently, the focus is on meeting locally in regular vision catching sessions, so participants have the opportunity to adopt action steps related to the faith community in their specific area.
For more information contact: Pastor Doran Wright, Faith Leaders Collaborative Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org
INITIATIVE – PROJECT HOMELESS CONNECT
Project Homeless Connect is a one-day event connecting adults, families and youth who are homeless or may be at risk of homelessness. The purpose of the event is to provide free access to comprehensive health and human services in one location, on one day each year. Participants can access countless social services, as well as mental health assessments onsite. In addition, they are connected to follow up appointments, which would normally require numerous phone calls and long waits for services. Collaboration is the hallmark of PHC, represented by a broad range of agencies and dedicated volunteers who focus their efforts on serving each client in whatever way possible.
INITIATIVE – POINT-IN-TIME [PIT] COUNT
Each January, Opening Doors of Fairfield County [ODFC] staff and volunteers partner with the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness [CCEH] to conduct a hands-on count of homeless residents located within the Fairfield County region. The annual Point in Time Count is mandated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development [HUD] to provide a snapshot of homelessness on a single night. Recent count results showed that in Fairfield County there were 361 individuals identified as homeless, 216 of them under the age of 18, with 30 individuals between the age of 18 and 24. The PIT Count allows us to:
- Collect data to inform our efforts and progress in ending homelessness
- Develop a consistent methodology for collecting reliable data to measure program effectiveness
- Help service providers and policy makers better understand the needs of homeless people to design effective interventions
ODFC also participates in the Homeless Youth Count which is part of the coordinated system that helped end veteran homelessness.