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Reports show 'extremely concerning' increase in homelessness across Connecticut

The Connecticut State Department of Housing said homelessness has surged lately, with 76% more people without a place of their own, compared to November 2020.

WATERBURY, Conn. — After a long day, most Connecticut residents get to go where they call home, but for many people, that reality isn’t the same.

“That’s what many of our guests here will say is that this time last year they weren’t like this,” said Megan Santiago, the director of Saint Vincent DePaul Shelter in Waterbury.

A lot of people have laid their heads on the beds at St. Vincent DePaul, one of the biggest homeless shelters in Connecticut. 

The Connecticut State Department of Housing said homelessness has surged lately, with 76% more people without a place of their own, compared to November 2020.

“The amount of people that are currently sleeping outside, including family and children, has gotten extremely concerning,” said Santiago.

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The United Way puts together a report called Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed (ALICE).

The data collected through ALICE helps the United Way understand the cost of living in the local community, according to Lisa Tepper Bates, the President and CEO of United Way.

"What ALICE tells us based off of living in Connecticut was that two years ago, our last ALICE report actually costs $90,000 a year for a family of four - that includes an infant and a toddler - just to make ends meet,” said Tepper Bates.

In the last two years, inflation has driven prices up even more, making parents who are already struggling fall even more behind.

“Going forward, we are seeing a lot more families needing shelter. Still, individuals and whatnot but families are still our biggest thing that are in need of shelter right now and the lack of space between our shelter and other shelters within this region,” said Santiago.

The United Way 211 hotline has been ringing off the hook due to the housing crisis. 

They’ve since been forced to cut its 24/7 call service to just eight hours a day in an attempt to help its staff keep up with the call volume. 

Jered Bruzas with United Way of Greater Waterbury said it’s a trickledown effect from lack of funding from the state level. 

“Without real investment in the homeless response system, there will continue to be challenges and problems of people calling 211 and trying to access services,” said Bruzas.

Yet, tomorrow holds the challenge of another homeless day for people like Andre, who frequents this shelter.

“I like this place because it helps me a lot,” said Andre. 

This place is a painful reality for him and many more families. 

“We used to be able to get families, really anybody out of here within 30 days or so, but now due to the lack of housing or with the rates going up with rents, units not passing the housing quality inspections, stuff like that. We’re not able to get people in as fast or out as fast. So our length of stays are now becoming longer and longer and then people are on the waiting list longer and longer,” said Santiago. 

A longer wait for families is a part of the overburdened and underfunded system.

If you or someone you know is experiencing homelessness or on the verge of homelessness, click here.

DeAndria Turner is a multi-media journalist at FOX61 News. She can be reached at dturner@fox61.com. 


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