On April 13, 2017, Opening Doors Fairfield County took to the State Capitol to advocate for preserved funding for homeless services. The Advocacy Day was jointly coordinated under the Reaching Home campaign by the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness and Partnership for Strong Communities.
ODFC Co-Chair David Rich served as the facilitator for the presentation to legislators, setting the stage by explaining how collaboration has been critical to the work in the region.
“I think a big part of this is seeing non-profits working together,” stated Jeannette Archer-Simons of Open Door Shelter in Norwalk, elaborating on the unique and effective inter-agency collaboration. Representatives of ODFC member agencies provided statistics and spoke about the decrease in homeless populations over the last four years; the effectiveness of both permanent supportive housing and rapid re-housing; and challenges in addressing the needs of families and youth.
The Advocacy Day was a great opportunity for providers and partners to meet with legislators and convey the progress that has been made in Fairfield County. As Lisa Tepper Bates of Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness said, “Homelessness is on a decline in Fairfield County four years in a row.”
A young woman named Dakota concluded the session with testimony in which she spoke about the ways in which homelessness impacted her life as a young person. Dakota thanked the providers in Fairfield County that helped her transform her situation, and urged legislators to preserve the funding currently in place, for services she said saved her life.