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Success Housing Vets a Model for Ending Chronic Homelessness

Connecticut was the first state in the nation to end chronic homelessness among veterans. Credit: R0sss/Flickr.
Connecticut was the first state in the nation to end chronic homelessness among veterans. Credit: R0sss/Flickr.
November 10, 2015

HARTFORD, Conn. – Tomorrow is Veterans Day, and in Connecticut there is reason to celebrate progress in the struggles many veterans have faced since leaving the armed forces.

A few years ago, 10 percent of the adult homeless population in Connecticut was made up of veterans. Lisa Tepper Bates, executive director of the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness, says that has changed dramatically.

"Not only did we manage to end the homelessness of all chronically homeless veterans," she says, "we are on track as a state to end all veteran homelessness in the very near future, hopefully by the end of this year."

Connecticut was the first state in the country to eliminate chronic homelessness for veterans. Bates credits service providers for taking an individual approach to each person's situation.

According to Bates, homeless adults are often given shelter, but then left on their own to deal with the root causes of their homelessness. That approach had to change in order for the state to make progress.

"All of the providers have pulled together to understand, by person, by name, the situation of each one of those veterans, and an understanding of what each one needs," she says.

Connecticut is one of only four states accepted into the national Zero: 2016 campaign to end all veteran homeless by the end of next year.

The state is also making significant progress toward ending homelessness altogether. Last February, the annual count of homeless in Connecticut identified 4,038 homeless individuals on a single day. According to Bates, that's the lowest number since the count began in 2007.

"That count reflected a drop of over 30 percent in unsheltered homelessness since the last unsheltered count," she says. "It also reflects a drop in sheltered homelessness by about four percent."

Bates says there's still a lot of work to do, but the state is headed in the right direction to end homelessness for all.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - CT