A key indicator that real headway is being made in ending homelessness in Connecticut are the encouraging results of the annual Point-in-Time count, also known as the “PIT” Count, which took place statewide on January 24th 2017. Results of this year’s PIT Count, released on May 18 by the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness, show that homelessness in Connecticut has declined for the third straight year, trending steadily downward among our most vulnerable neighbors, especially the chronically homeless, 90% of whom struggle with mental illness.
As stated in the 2017 PIT Count report, which can be accessed at www.cceh.org, “the January 24th count showed that overall homelessness in Connecticut is down 13 percent compared to 2016, and down by 24 percent since 2007, the first year the census was conducted statewide.” The 2017 count represents the lowest totals ever [recorded] in a statewide CT PIT Count for individuals, families, veterans, and the chronically homeless. Surveyors identified 3,387 individuals experiencing homelessness, down from 3,902 in 2016.
Within Fairfield County, covering communities from Greenwich to Stratford along the I-95 corridor, the count was coordinated by Opening Doors Fairfield County (ODFC). Despite having the state’s most expensive housing cost, results for the region showed a consistent decline in homelessness. On the night of January 24, 2017, 778 people were reported as experiencing homelessness in Fairfield County, down from 886 and 904 in 2016 and 2015 respectively; a 14% drop over two years. There was also substantial progress in reducing the number of individuals who experience chronic homelessness, (defined as those experiencing long-term homeless and living with severe disabilities), with a 40% a decrease over the past two years.
The ODFC PIT Count results are a result of state investments prioritized to end homelessness by the administration of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, coupled with tremendous collaborative efforts that coordinate and target resources at the local level through ODFC’s Coordinated Access Network (CAN). Operational for nearly three years, the region’s CAN moves people from homelessness to housing as quickly and efficiently as possible starting with a single call to 2-1-1. This single-point-of-access has improved outcomes for those experiencing homelessness in Fairfield County, and has led to significant cost efficiencies in serving the most vulnerable homeless.
David Rich, co-chair of Opening Doors Fairfield County and Executive Director of Supportive Housing Works in Bridgeport, said in regards to the results of the 2017 count and the year-over-year downward trend, “It is remarkable what we, as a crisis response system, have been able to do to reduce chronic homelessness— historically the most difficult form of homelessness to address.” He further said, “Despite the solid results that have been achieved through intense regional collaboration and effective allocation of community resources, we cannot lessen our efforts to ensure that every chronically homeless individual in the county is housed in 2017. And, I strongly believe we are on track to end family and youth homelessness by 2020.”
The results of the 2017 PIT count reveal the long-term effectiveness of the national Opening Doors strategy in addressing homelessness in Fairfield County and across the state. These results are proof that effective regional provider coordination, including the collaborative prioritization of efforts and resources, should be directed to end all forms of homelessness, such as youth and family homelessness. An estimated 4,396 youth under age 25 reported being homeless or unstably housed on the night of January 24 in Connecticut.
“Connecticut is on the path to ending homelessness,” said Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-Norwalk). “These positive and tangible improvements [in our crisis response system] are the result of numerous policy decisions and [behind-the-scenes] work people don’t see when the legislature is crafting a budget, and the dedication of the many nonprofit and community organizations laboring every day on the front lines.”
For more information, please contact David Rich at (860)671-1715 or email firstname.lastname@example.org