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What's being done for Connecticut's homeless population during the COVID-19 pandemic

Nearly 3,000 people in Connecticut were homeless in 2020 according to the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness.

NEW BRITAIN, Conn. — Thousands of people in Connecticut are suffering from homelessness---with the pandemic making it even more difficult to provide housing many end up sleeping in their cars or worse-on the streets.  

Nearly 3,000 people in Connecticut were homeless in 2020 according to the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness. 

Beate and her husband Kyle joined that list in February -when they could no longer pay rent and were evicted from their Bristol apartment. 

“The state needs to do more for the residents, they have to provide more assistance especially with housing and employment for people,” Beate Monsan said. 

Beate said she’s been trying to get a job but at 59-years-old and during a pandemic- it's been difficult. She adds she suffers from two autoimmune diseases - while her husband Kyle was previously in an accident and is now disabled. 

“They are at the bottom of the list because they are older, they're taking young families first, however, they are disabled and cannot work,” neighbor Kimberly Sampieri said. 

For many people in the state, homelessness is a new reality since the pandemic began with shelters filling up to capacity quicker due to social distancing requirements. 

“We really had to decompress shelters for CDC guidelines to meet the requirements for congregate settings, that placed strain in a couple of ways, we had to find temporary housing for anyone in the shelter,” Ryan Beach, CT Coalition to End Homelessness said. 

Although the homeless population has decreased by 4% since 2019 according to the coalition.  In 2020 2,904 people were homeless in Connecticut, this includes 1,947 adults, 305 family households, and 560 children. The main issue remains the same--- lack of immediate housing. 

“One of the frustrations we deal with is our desire to help people we encounter who need housing right away within 2-3 months,” Executive Director, New Britain Department of Housing John Hamilton said. 

State officials said homeless individuals should dial 211 for help finding an opening at a shelter or permanent housing but officials say being on a waitlist could last years. 

“Our housing waiting list could be up to a year and a half or more depending on the family size,” Hamilton said.

“I emphasize with how scary and frustrating the system can be and experiencing homeless is traumatic. Just keep trying and have faith in the system that we really do care for everybody,” Sarah Dimaio, Friendship Service Center said. 

Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness said in order to move forward the state not only needs more housing but more adequate staffing for the 211 system.

    

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