Fairfield anti-homelessness group says 'mission accomplished'

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Fairfield homeless shelter closes, mission changes Fairfield homeless shelter closes, mission changes
FAIRFIELD -

A temporary shelter in Fairfield is set to close in a few months due to lack of need, according to officials.

Operation Hope began working to end homelessness in the area 30 years ago. Their last homeless count in January found no unsheltered families in the area.

"To hear that we've ended chronic homelessness in Fairfield, that's a milestone I'm not sure many of us thought we'd ever achieve," says Mike Tetreau, Fairfield's first selectman.

The new mission for Operation Hope will be to prevent homelessness before it happens, so officials will close down the emergency shelter at 50 Nichols St. 

"Over the next couple of months, we'll be housing everyone who's currently staying in our shelter, making sure that they're matched to a housing opportunity that works for them," says Carla Miklos, the shelter's executive director.

"The only real way to solve homelessness would be to get people a permanent home," Miklos says. "So we've moved from a philosophy where we would determine when somebody was housing ready, to a philosophy that we would house you as we find you. And we would wrap services around so that you don't fail."

Its new plan is to open a homeless response center by the summer. The plan there is to offer outreach, referrals and to place people into permanent housing to prevent homelessness before it starts.

"The real problem we had when the shelter opened was that when people were ready to leave the shelter, there wasn't anything that was affordable," says David Spollett, a pastor. "Through the programs of Operation Hope, we now have those affordable housing options."

As for the shelter's 15 employees, officials say they hope to transfer them to other jobs within the nonprofit or at the new response center.

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