HEADLINES

Lamont Approves $3.4 Million in Coronavirus Relief Grants for Shelter Improvements and Homelessness Prevention Services

Governor Ned Lamont today announced that he has approved the allocation of $3.4 million in grants from the state’s Coronavirus Relief Fund, which uses federal CARES Act money, to finance programs in several towns across Connecticut that will be used for homeless shelter improvements, homeless prevention services, and financial assistance for low-income residents at-risk of becoming homeless. Administered by the Connecticut Department of Housing, the grants will provide critically needed assistance to many who have been impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“These grants will be used to ensure the supports are in place for those who are on the verge of becoming homeless and we can rapidly respond to the situations they are facing,” Governor Lamont said. “Having a safe and secure place to call home is a critical component of responding to this public health crisis.”

“When an individual or family is having a housing crisis, we can keep them stably housed in the community and prevent them from entering into homeless service system,” Connecticut Housing Commissioner Seila Mosquera-Bruno said. “This funding increases the capacity to prevent, prepare, and respond to housing needs and pandemic precautions.”

Several of the grants will be used for shelter diversion programs, which aim to prevent homelessness by helping those in need of shelter to identify alternate housing arrangements. This prevents the need for entering shelter, and creates a pathway toward long-term housing stability.

The grants announced today include:

  • Town of Enfield – $250,000 for the Homeless Shelter Diversion Program: The Town of Enfield will staff three positions to support their diversion program, including a diversion specialist, social worker, and case worker. Enfield has begun implementing diversion as a critical intervention strategy in the prevention of homelessness. This shelter diversion program will reduce the number of households becoming homeless, the demand for shelter beds, and the cost to shelter agencies by increasing the region’s capacity.
  • Town of Enfield – $218,748 for Enfield Food Shelf, Inc.: The Town of Enfield will use the grant to provide food, household supplies, equipment, and materials to Enfield Food Shelf, Inc. in order to carry out a necessary public service in response to the consequences of COVID-19. The demand from low-income individuals will soon overwhelm the food and household supplies on-hand and budgeted. It will also be necessary to divert some of the funding for mandated COVID-related health and safety supplies (such as PPE), materials (such as plexiglass), and labor.
  • Town of Groton – $150,000 for Groton Full-on Approach to COVID-19: The Town of Groton will use this grant as part of its prevention and response to COVID-19. The funds will be used to acquire Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including face masks, gloves, protective clothing, plexiglass, and plastic sheeting to provide isolation and critical barriers.
  • Town of Guilford – $350,000 for Greater New Haven CAN Shelter Diversion: The Town of Guilford will receive the equivalent of four full-time positions to support their diversion program, including two diversion specialists, a family stabilization specialist, a housing specialist, a homeless verification specialist, and a diversion team lead. In 2019, 13,223 households in Greater New Haven called 2-1-1 with a housing crisis, approximately 2,925 of whom attended a Coordinated Access Network (CAN) appointment to seek assistance. At the highest point, there were over 300 individuals on the shelter waitlist. Greater New Haven has begun implementing diversion as a critical intervention. This shelter diversion program will reduce the number of households becoming homeless, the demand for shelter beds, and the cost to shelter agencies by increasing the region’s capacity.
  • Town of Mansfield – $500,000 for the Mansfield Residence Assistance Program: The Town of Mansfield will use the grant to assist 100 low-income residents or more by providing childcare assistance for up to three months with an income-based contribution by the recipient; food security and nutrition through a weekly distribution of grocery staples, prepared meals, and meal kits; and rental assistance pursuant to Department of Housing SC-CDBG-CV program guidelines.
  • Town of Portland – $306,800 for Portland Shelter Diversion: The Town of Portland, in partnership with the Coalition on Housing and Homelessness (Meriden, Middlesex, and Wallingford Coordinated Access Network), will use the grant to expand the local resources that address homelessness by adding four full-time staff, deployed over an 18-month period, to expand shelter diversion and housing stabilization services for families, youth and single adults. This program will serve clients that are imminently at risk of becoming homeless.
  • Town of Stonington – $350,000 for Shelter Diversion of Eastern Connecticut: The Town of Stonington will use this grant to hire diversion Coordinators for the following priorities: support day-to-day diversion activities by existing staff, improve follow-up on diversions in process, work with other systems to decrease shelter entries, improve coordination with “main line” systems, more fully engage local social service agencies, and seek out best practices. Funding would allow diversion up to 93 percent of all new families reporting for shelter. The additional staff will make the transition to housing more effective and thereby reducing returns to homelessness.
  • Town of Torrington – $170,000 for Homeless Diversion Program with Supportive Housing Works: The Town of Torrington, in partnership with Supportive Housing Works, will use this grant to establish a needed shelter diversion program by staffing a diversion specialist in the areas identified as high-need within the region. Based on the current rental market in Connecticut and the anticipated conclusion of the housing eviction moratorium, this program anticipates serving over 500 unduplicated households annually.
  • Town of Trumbull – $100,000 for the Trumbull Senior Center: The Town of Trumbull will receive use this grant to support the Local Meals Project. The project will serve approximately 100 individuals and will provide over 3,600 meals to quarantine or vulnerable at risk residents, including seniors. As the Senior Center was closed in March 2020, local eateries and restaurants will be engaged to provide healthy and nutritional balanced meals for low-income families, including seniors. These meals will be delivered in a contactless manner to alleviate food insecurities.
  • Town of Westport – $500,000 for the Fairfield Shelter Diversion Program: The Town of Westport will use this grant to hire 6.5 full-time diversion specialists and one full-time team leader. The diversion specialist will serve different regions of Fairfield County in diverting homelessness. These positions will emphasize continuous engagement of individuals and families in creative problem solving and case management; and developing individualized plans, thereby, ending housing instability and creating a path to safe, stable, housing. This program will immediately identify alternative housing arrangements and connecting them with necessary financial assistance to help them return to permanent housing.
  • Town of Westport – $500,000 for Homes with Hope: The Town of Westport will use this grant to address COVID-related concerns in two parts. First, Homes with Hope will use $250,000 to make necessary improvements to the Gillespie Center Emergency Shelter and Food Pantry facilities. The facility is not currently ADA nor COVID compliant. Safer access to food and services will be achieved with improve social distancing, growing service needs, and required safety essentials of those mostly at risk. Additionally, $250,000 will be set aside for a rental assistance program to assist about 400 income-eligible households experiencing economic hardships and housing insecurities.

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