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Despite Jump in CT Homelessness, Progress in Helping Vets

PHOTO: The one-night "Point In Time Count" last winter in Connecticut found the number of homeless individuals in the state had doubled from the previous year's count. Photo credit: Rick Hartford.
PHOTO: The one-night "Point In Time Count" last winter in Connecticut found the number of homeless individuals in the state had doubled from the previous year's count. Photo credit: Rick Hartford.
October 14, 2013

HARTFORD, Conn. - Connecticut's homeless population continues to increase, but the latest numbers also show that major strides have been made in curbing the problem for veterans and their families.

According to Lisa Tepper Bates, executive director of the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness, the new edition of the annual Point In Time Count shows that more than 4500 people were homeless in the state at the start of 2013.

"Homelessness in Connecticut has increased by 7 percent since just 2012," she declared. "We have seen the number of families homeless, and not adequately sheltered, double."

Bates said the numbers could have been a lot worse had it not been for state and federal programs that help address the problem of chronic homelessness.

She did say that one bright spot in the report is a 25 percent decrease in the number of Connecticut's homeless veterans since 2005, and she credits the Veterans Administration for that.

"It took them a couple of years to really get their minds around what was happening, but now, the VA has provided some pretty extraordinary new resources with regard to assistance available to help veterans who are homeless."

Bates said the VA is not only doing a better job helping single veterans stay off the streets, but also offers permanent supportive housing options that include assistance for families of soldiers who return with such disabilities as post-traumatic-stress disorder, or PTSD.

"These are veterans who, in many cases, were the primary breadwinners,"she said. "There's a mother and a couple children impacted, when you have a veteran who has returned from war and is unable to hold a job and help support his family."

There are more details about the Point In Time Count results on the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness website, CCEH.org.

A follow-up report Tuesday will look at the role of domestic violence in Connecticut homelessness, in connection with Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - CT