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Coalition: New CT State Budget Slights People Who are Homeless

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Friday, May 21, 2021   

HARTFORD, Conn. - A coalition of service providers for people who are experiencing homelessness in Connecticut is asking state lawmakers and Gov. Ned Lamont not to ignore their needs as they allocate funding from the American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA.

Funding from the previous CARES Act is set to expire the end of December, and service providers are concerned about losing the aid that has allowed them to tackle the increased need during the pandemic.

Sonya Jelks, Connecticut director for the Corporation for Supportive Housing, said they understand the weight of rebuilding the economy, but addressing the impacts of homelessness must be among the priorities.

"Housing is one of the greatest determinants of a person's health and wellbeing," said Jelks. "And if you don't have a place to live, any of the other efforts that they're planning to use with the recovery funds, it's going to leave quite a bit of people who might be vulnerable out."

Jelks said they're still working to find out why these services were left out of the state budget.

The Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness is asking for 1% of the state's ARPA money to continue funding such services as short- or medium-term housing subsidies, and the housing emergency response system.

The coalition reports $20 million of CARES Act funding helped providers ease crowding at shelters, and shift about 3,000 families into housing. Jelks asserted Connecticut needs further aid to stay proactive about fighting homelessness.

"It was a temporary bandage to get us through the tough part of the pandemic," said Jelks. "But it didn't address the longstanding under-funding of homelessness and homelessness services that has been, unfortunately, historical in Connecticut, and probably in most places."

Earlier this week, the coalition and its supporters made their appeal to lawmakers at the State Capitol. Jelks said she hopes the group can set a meeting with legislative leaders to review the concerns.


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