As temperatures plummet, Connecticut receives millions to fight homelessness

Federal officials announced that Connecticut will receive $18 million to get people off the streets and into permanent housing.

John Craven

Feb 3, 2023, 11:07 PM

Updated 498 days ago

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As the temps dropped into the teens Friday, federal officials announced that Connecticut will receive $18 million to get people off the streets and into permanent housing. But homelessness advocates warned that it’s not enough.
"Today is really a cold day, and this money is for unsheltered homelessness,” said Steve DiLella with the Connecticut Department of Housing. “I don't think it could any better timing.”
Lonna Leak-Moore knows the struggle well. For five years, she braved the cold with no home.
“You learn to survive,” she said. “You have to become strong, because you can't succumb to it or you won't succeed.”
After years of improvement, homelessness increased 13% in 2022, according to a statewide census. This year, advocates think it will jump almost 40% more.
"In Fairfield County, one of the wealthiest parts of the whole world and country, people are homeless right now – and not just in Bridgeport,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut).
The money, to be spent over three years, will help find people on the streets, get them mental health or addiction treatment and get them housing vouchers.
“We are thrilled, thrilled, thrilled beyond belief,” said Jim Pettinelli with Liberty Community Services of New Haven.
But advocates said the money is only a down payment. On Thursday, they urged state lawmakers to approve $50 million extra.
On Friday, Gov. Ned Lamont said his new budget proposal will include a “historic investment” in housing but did not offer specific figures. Lamont will unveil his budget next Wednesday.
Leak-Moore finally found a permanent home in Derby. But it was a struggle. She said most of Connecticut's housing is too expensive – even with help.
"A lot of homeless people don't have the means for – now, people are asking for application fees and credit checks,” she said. “Those two things are the main barriers for people finding housing out there, so I think a lot of landlords need to be more lenient.”
Affordable housing is deeply divisive in Connecticut. Last year, Lamont’s Republican opponent called for rolling back the state’s 8-30g law, which lets developers bypass most zoning rules in communities without enough affordable units.
On Friday, Lamont resisted the idea of more mandates. Instead, his budget will offer bigger incentives for communities and landlords to build “deeply affordable housing.”
“These are going to be good tenants, and we're helping the tenants be able to afford the rent,” he said. “And these are going to be good folks that are in their buildings.”


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