How Many People are Homeless in Connecticut?
The statewide data from the 2007 Point-In-Time Count provides us with an updated baseline number of the homeless population in Connecticut. It is estimated that at any one point in time, close to 4,000 people are homeless in Connecticut. In 2001, over 33,000 people, including 13,000 children, experienced homelessness over the course of a year.
Most persons who are homeless do not live on the streets. Many individuals, and especially homeless families, are hidden from our view – they live doubled up in apartments or in emergency shelters or transitional housing, which do a good job of keeping them “off of the streets.”
What Causes Homelessness?
Some people experience homelessness because:
High housing costs consume too much, more than 30%, of their individual or family income.
They have a low income or they are unemployed, working at a low-wage job, or underemployed.
They or someone in their family suffer from chronic mental illness or substance abuse or have a physical disability or chronic illness such as HIV/AIDS. These individuals and families often experience long-term, chronic homelessness and are best served by supportive housing.
An unexpected event triggers a downward spiral – the loss of a job, injury or illness, the loss of a spouse. For someone with very low income, even a car breakdown, which would be just an inconvenience for some of us, could lead to the loss of a job and put a person at risk of homelessness.
What are the Solutions to Homelessness?
For long-term homelessness, we know what works – supportive housing. Supportive housing combines affordable apartments with on-site or visiting support and employment services. Supportive housing provides a permanent, independent and affordable solution to the problem of homelessness. We currently have over 3000 units across the state but we need 7000 more to reach our goal of 10,000 units to end long-term homelessness.
Affordable housing is also key to ending homelessness for families. Many families experience an episode of homelessness primarily because of financial reasons. By increasing the supply of affordable housing through new construction and rehabilitation of older housing, families with low incomes would be able to find housing units they can afford.
Other solutions to homelessness include increasing the availability of rental subsidies such as Section 8 certificates or State Rental Assistance Program vouchers; preserving the safety net of social services; and providing adequate discharge planning from prisons, hospitals and other institutions.
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