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Domestic Violence Fuels Increase in CT Homelessness

October 15, 2013

HARTFORD, Conn. - We are halfway through Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and new data shows that such violence is a major factor driving up the homeless population in Connecticut.

According to Karen Jarmoc, executive director of the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence, DV agencies dealt with more than 56,000 victims last year, which is a big number for a small state. She reacted to the latest data, showing that one in five who were homeless at the start of 2013 had experienced domestic violence, and 14 percent said it played a direct role in their being homeless.

"Domestic violence arrests make up for more than one-third of all the cases in our criminal court; and sometimes, that victim then seeks shelter, for safety, because that can be a volatile time," she said.

Jarmoc said there are 18 domestic violence shelters in Connecticut, and they run at 95 percent capacity. She added that state officials and local advocates are working together to make the best use of shelter space, and to ensure that victims gain access to the help they need.

At the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness, executive director Lisa Tepper Bates said the state has only so much money to go around for providing emergency shelter, so her group is partnering with other helping agencies to do more with less.

"And that means helping people who are homeless and in shelter, to return to permanent housing quickly as they can, so that we can make the best use of that important resource of emergency shelter, for more people in need," Bates said.

Karen Jarmoc pointed to the state's innovative "Rapid Re-housing" program as an example of getting the proper resources to people in need, including domestic violence victims, and helping them obtain more permanent housing.

"Opportunities for longer-term housing become so critical for those individuals who are looking to transition into the community, because domestic violence shelters are not long-term housing options," Jarmoc said. "They're safety measures; they are for victims who are at a high risk."

The numbers come from the 2013 "Point in Time Count".

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - CT