CCEH Newsletter
July 2019
Dear Friends,
 
When I worked on ending homelessness at the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), I was often frustrated by the limited set of tools that the federal government had to influence programs and approaches. Beyond providing funding, federal agencies like USICH and HUD can only influence how communities respond to homelessness by providing policy guidance, changing regulations, using funding incentives, or delivering technical assistance. But ultimately, the decisions and actions that really matter are made at the local level.
 
So that’s why, it was always so exciting as a fed to be able to hold up Connecticut as a shining example of how communities, providers, government agencies, and private sector partners could come together to work as an effective system. Connecticut was always USICH’s “star student”: when USICH created the first ever federal plan to end homelessness called Opening Doors, Connecticut created a statewide plan to end homelessness called Opening Doors CT. When the White House, USICH, VA, and HUD launched the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness, Connecticut’s Governor was one of the first to sign up. When HUD and USICH told communities to streamline access to homeless services and better match people to types of assistance based on their level of needs, Connecticut was one of the few states to put into place a functioning system—the Coordinated Access Network system. Time after time, we at the federal level sketched broad policy blueprints and Connecticut would bring these sketches to life, and achieve steady reductions in homelessness as a result!
 
These days, the directions coming from Washington DC don’t always seem to be about ways to improve service systems to end homelessness or assist more vulnerable households. In fact, it is sometimes quite the opposite. Recently, HUD proposed to change its regulations so that households with members with mixed US residency status would no longer receive federal assistance (prorated to only assist those members with documented status), but instead, evict and make homeless the entire household if a single member had undocumented status. CCEH and our allies at the ACLU of CT are hard pressed to see how this rule change is motivated by any other intent than cruelty and xenophobia.
 
By stark contrast, Connecticut has shown itself to be a state that lives by the Hebrew teaching, “Do not mistreat a foreigner, for we were once foreigners ourselves.” Nowhere is that more evident than in the state’s response to Hurricane Maria, where foundations, the state government, and non-profits joined together to create a housing and educational assistance fund for families evacuated from Puerto Rico to Connecticut after the hurricane. We welcomed Puerto Rican households to our state not only because they are US citizens, but because we see ourselves as a welcoming sanctuary, a place that takes care of our residents and neighbors, a place to call home.
 
We see this ethic at work in our evolving effort to end homelessness. We are working with great speed to extend the reach of our system to new populations. This newsletter shares some updates on one of those populations, namely youth. Meanwhile, we at CCEH have embarked on the creation of a strategic plan to chart these and other new frontiers in perfecting our state’s coordinated response to homelessness.
 
Between the confused (and often malicious) policy visions coming out of Washington and the fact that Connecticut’s response to homelessness has evolved beyond where even federal guidance has gone, it seems that Connecticut can no longer look to the federal government to consistently provide its blueprint for the future. The time has come where the student has become the teacher. In doing so, may we always be guided by our belief that no person is illegal, no person is unworthy, and, just as we all have been or may become a stranger, to never mistreat a stranger.


Richard Cho
CEO
Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program Showing Early Success
In 2018, CCEH, with partners across the state, began Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program (YHDP) Project Implementation and Administration. This brand new program presented the challenges of staffing Youth Navigators, getting them up to speed with the youth population and existing homeless system, and strict HUD guidelines to follow.

The core project activities consist of the following:

  • The hiring of Youth Navigators to conduct shelter diversion and rapid exit conversations during CAN assessment appointments.

  • The addition of 23 crisis housing beds.

  • Establishing a secure online portal through Smart Sheets for funding application submissions.

  • Creating CAN region specific YHDP program enrollments in HMIS for those approved for funding.

  • The Youth Special Projects Coordinator and accounting department working closely together so that submitted requests are reviewed, approved, and funds dispersed timely and efficiently.

Accomplishments for the first half of 2019:

  • A bi-monthly YHDP Coordinated Entry Learning Collaborative meeting

  • The Youth Special Projects Coordinator is trained on HQS inspections, and is successfully training youth navigators how to conduct inspections

  • Over $130,000 in YHDP funds have been spent on over 65 households, which includes 28 children

Goals for the second half of 2019:

  • Developing effective marketing strategies to spread the word about the YHDP project

  • Getting more youth involved in the creative process and outreach

  • Building stronger relationships with local and state agencies and providers such as DCF, DMHAS, Juvenile Probation and the YMCA

  • Organizing an HQS training for youth in the community to learn new skill sets and more CAN agency staff

  • Partnering with CCADV to create a system that will allow DV clients to access YHDP funds while remaining anonymous
2019 Youth Outreach and Count Highlights

        The 2019 Youth Outreach and Count was a success and planning has already started for the 2020 count! We significantly increased participation and surveys, and in doing so, identified several trends and intersections that put youth at risk for homelessness.

  • Increased volunteers by 25% and surveys conducted by 30% over the previous year

  •  Doubled school contact and participation statewide—to just over 200 schools

  • 36% of youth with a history of child welfare involvement indicated that they were currently homeless or unstably housed

  • 56% of youth with a history of criminal justice involvement indicated that they were homeless or unstably housed

  • The 2020 Youth Outreach and Count will occur January 22 to 28. Contact your local YETI for information leading up to the count including volunteer and training opportunities. 

Click Here for the Full Report
ACLU-CT And CCEH File Public Comment Opposing Federal Proposed Rule On “Mixed-Status” Families In Public Housing And Section 8 Programs
Together, the ACLU of Connecticut and  Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness filed a public comment this week strongly opposing the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) proposed rule change that would ban "mixed-status" families from living in public housing or Section 8 programs if at least one household member is undocumented or otherwise ineligible for housing benefits due to their immigration status. The Proposed Rule is another federal government attack against immigrants that would hurt people in Connecticut.

Read The Full Post Here
CCEH Completes Spend-Down of Emergency Assistance for Hurricane Maria Evacuee Fund
Hurricane Maria left it's path of devastation in 2017, and unfortunately many are still feeling the effects. Evacuees have already endured the loss of one home, and along with it stability and safety. When we saw the influx of evacuees to Connecticut, we knew a solution was required to keep them from entering our already strained homeless services system, and experiencing the trauma of losing another home. Thanks to dozens of partners statewide, we were able to accomplish this goal, raising and distributing over $900,000 to prevent nearly 450 families with nearly 600 children from experiencing homelessness.

We could not have done this alone.
Thank you to our partners in this effort:

Access Agency
Alpha Community Services
Catholic Charities
Community Foundation of Greater New Britain
Community Foundation of Middlesex County
Community Health Resources
Community Renewal Team
CT Community Foundation
CT Department of Housing
Dime Bank
Fairfield County’s Community Foundation
Family and Children’s Agency
Farmington Bank Community Foundation
Hartford Foundation for Public Giving
Liberty Bank
Lily Velez
Maria Lino 
Melville Charitable Trust
Mercy Housing
Napier Foundation
New London Homeless Hospitality Center
New Opportunities, Inc.
New Reach
Salvation Army
San Juan Center
Savings Bank of Danbury
Thames Council for Community Action
United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut
United Way of Greater Waterbury
Webster Bank
CCEH Kicks Off Strategic Planning Effort With an All-Staff Retreat
This June the CCEH team enjoyed our first all-staff retreat, hosted by New Reach at the Life Haven family shelter in New Haven. New Reach CEO Kellyann Day and her staff set the tone and grounded us in our mission with a tour of the Life Haven facilities and a presentation on the full spectrum of services offered by New Reach and the Greater New Haven Coordinated Access Network.

CCEH staff members Sarah Fox and Madeline Ravich walked the team through history and successes to date since CCEH was founded in 1982. With this framing, the team turned to identifying challenges and opportunities for the work ahead: to end all forms of homelessness by 2023.

Key strategic areas identified by CCEH staff included:

  • extending the reach of the Coordinated Access Networks by promoting broader geographic coverage and supporting cross-cultural competencies and greater accessibility to marginalized populations

  • building a broader coalition with new partners committed to ending homelessness

  • putting the perspectives of persons with lived experience and the staff who serve them (often the same people!) at the center of all that we do.

Richard Cho shared his intention to take these themes to the board and other stakeholders to launch a formal strategic planning process at CCEH. After a day full of purposeful reflection and lively discussion, the CCEH team left recommitted to the work ahead and confident in our coalition’s ability to end all forms of homelessness.
Resource Roundup: National and Local Takes on Unsheltered Homelessness
As CCEH begins to focus on unsheltered homelessness in the coming year, a number of recent local and national resources provide crucial perspectives on the ongoing challenges of identifying, reaching, and serving all people who are experiencing unsheltered homelessness:

ABT Associates | January 7th

A literature review and collection of interviews that examines community approaches to encampments as distinct from other forms of unsheltered homelessness. Considers why encampments form: for increased safety of residents, for increased autonomy, or in response to limits in delivery of shelter services. Highlights innovative approaches such as dedicated ‘Navigation Centers’ in San Francisco. 

USICH with the Council of State Governments Justice Center | June 25

A research brief following the August 2018 convening by USICH and the CSG Justice Center. Highlights emerging strategies for reducing arrests and increasing positive outcomes for people experiencing homelessness. Presents examples from communities around the country where law enforcement, homeless services, and others have undertaken successful, strategic collaborations.

New Haven Independent | June 25

Recent coverage that underscores the persistent challenge of unsheltered homelessness in Connecticut. Highlights the role of resource constraints in tensions between authorities and advocates.

National Public Radio | July 4

News coverage highlighting the prevalence and distinctness of rural homelessness. Presents data indicating that persons experiencing homelessness in rural communities are more likely to be both unsheltered and unaccounted for in current datasets (PIT count and others). Considers public health implications of encampments in rural areas.
Upcoming Trainings & Events


Visit the CCEH Provider Resource Library for more topics and resources.
Visit the CCEH Webinar Library for all recordings.
Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness
(860) 721-7876 |  info@cceh.org  |  www.cceh.org

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