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Connecticut to Benefit from Obama's Plan to End Homelessness

June 23, 2010

HARTFORD, Conn. - Last year, 16,000 people stayed in Connecticut homeless shelters, and that doesn't count the thousands more "doubling up" by moving in with relatives, or living on the streets. More than a dozen Connecticut cities and counties have their own plans to end homelessness, but a new federal plan released on Tuesday offers more. Carol Walter, executive director of the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness, says the new plan is called "Opening Doors."

"The thing that I think is significant about this one is, it's a federal plan and a collaboration of a number of federal agencies, and there's resources that have been identified."

One part of the plan includes 10,000 housing vouchers nationally, in addition to the 10,000 made available to homeless veterans last year. Connecticut will get a portion of those vouchers, says Walters, adding that the federal plan includes more than shelter.

"The second resource is really weaving in, in a formal way, the mainstream resources for services: Medicaid, health care, mental health care, and good educational services for children."

In Connecticut, she says, the Governor's Interagency Council on Homelessness provided important coordination of services, although it has not met in the last couple of years.

"And it's vital that our governor, current and future, reconvene that Interagency Council on Homelessness, so that we can make sure that we're availing ourselves of all these federal resources, and maximizing the state resources that could be brought to the table."

A spokesman for Gov. Jodi Rell says the Council is still active at the staff level, not the Commissioner level. He added that last year Rell, directed $10.8 million in federal stimulus funds to prevent homelessness in the state through a community-based program of interventions.

Melinda Tuhus, Public News Service - CT