Governor Malloy announced the State of Connecticut and its partners in the nonprofit sector matched 280 families, including 548 children and 438 adults, to housing during the last three months as part of the Governor’s Challenge on Family Homelessness – a campaign to house as many homeless families in the state as possible.
Launched in September, the initiative was part of the administration’s ongoing goal to eliminate all forms of homelessness in the state.
“No one should have to choose between a roof over their head or health care, warm clothing, or nutritious food for their children,” Governor Malloy said.
“The availability of housing creates stable, safe communities where families thrive, businesses grow, and people want to live and work. Throughout our administration, we’ve made unprecedented efforts to develop affordable housing in the state – creating over 25,000 new units during these past eight years.
During this time, Connecticut was certified as having become just the second state in the nation to end homelessness among veterans, and we’ve led the nation in the fight to end chronic homelessness for all of our people. I am confident that if our state continues these efforts, we can reach our goal of bringing an end to youth and family homelessness by the end of 2020.”
During both terms of the Malloy administration, the state set a series of aggressive goals in its effort to end homelessness and reached several milestones along the way:
In 2015, Connecticut was certified by the federal government as being the first state in the nation to end chronic homelessness among veterans;
In 2016, Connecticut was certified by the federal government as being the second state in the nation to effectively end general veteran homelessness;
And in 2017, Connecticut reached its goal of being able to connect every chronically homeless person in the state with permanent housing.
With the momentum building, the administration and its partners has shifted its focus toward their collective goal of ending youth and family homelessness by the end of 2020.
The Governor’s Challenge on Family Homelessness began on September 20 and was an effort of key statewide departments and stakeholders that collectively impact family homelessness including the Department of Housing, the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, Department of Children and Families, the Office of Early Childhood, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Partnership for Strong Communities, the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness, Corporation for Supportive Housing, and other local community providers.
The campaign provided an opportunity for statewide policymakers, leaders, and service providers to identify and address barriers through creative and collaborative approaches as they work to support families in finding safe, affordable, and stable housing.
“During the Malloy administration, Connecticut has proven itself to be a national leader and a pioneer of innovation in the effort to end homelessness,” Housing Commissioner Evonne Klein said.
“Governor Malloy recognizes to succeed in improving the lives of Connecticut residents it is key to eliminate silos, form lasting partnerships, and establish ambitious goals to move the needle forward.”
As part of continuing these efforts, the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood (OEC) recently launched a $1 million initiative that will continue over the next three years and reward community providers for their work to prevent emergency shelter stays for families with young children, and thereby reduce childhood trauma, through a strategy known as shelter diversion.
While coming entering into the homeless system can lead to a negative spiral for families, diversion, which may be as simple as covering a back months’ rent when a parent in temporarily out of work. Connecticut data shows that 89 percent of the time, those who are diverted with low-cost support don’t return to the system, indicating greater stability while avoiding long-term costs.
OEC is the first early childhood agency of any state in the nation to invest in reducing child and family homelessness through a pay-for-results model. The agency will reward the special efforts of homeless service providers when:
A family with a child under six that is successfully connected to a better, more stable housing option that an emergency shelter and does not return to the homeless system for over the course of a year; and
Regional Coordinated Access Networks increase their annual percentage of successfully diverted families with a child under six.
“Evidence shows homelessness diversion is a game changer for families,” Early Childhood Commissioner David Wilkinson said.
“This is low-cost, high-impact investment. For a young child, that means avoiding exposure to trauma and uncertainty of homeless system engagement. For a mother, it means less stress and more stability.
Connecticut is a national leader in this model and we are proud to partner with the Department of Housing in a program strengthens families and saves money for the state. When we learned that there was insufficient funding statewide, OEC said ‘sign us up.’ This is a model that gets results, so we set up a funding approach that pays for results.”
Rather than paying for services delivered, OEC’s outcomes rate card structure allows funders and government agencies to establish a desired outcome and set a price for the achievement of that outcome. In this case, OEC pays for avoided homeless system engagement, an indicator of child trauma.
Evidence shows childhood trauma means children are more likely to experience chronic disease, child welfare involvement, criminal justice involvement and homelessness themselves in adulthood. Successfully stabilizing a family and diverting them away from an emergency shelter results in government savings for years to come.