OUR VIEW: More affordable housing would reduce homelessness

Published on Tuesday, 20 February 2018 20:03
Written by Staff

Homelessness isn’t going away. In fact, in some cities in Central Connecticut the homeless population is growing.

According to figures recently released in January by the Point in Time count, a homeless census report, there were 25 in-shelter homeless people in Bristol and 22 without shelter. In New Britain the numbers were higher. In the Hardware City, advocates reported 156 people - including six people who identified as unsheltered - are homeless. The number doesn’t include eight people in three families who are homeless and staying with Family Promise, a New Britain-based nonprofit that houses people in congregations throughout the area.

The reasons for homelessness can be traced to numerous factors including the loss of a job or the death of the head of a household, drug and alcohol addiction and medical and mental health issues to name a few.

There are some services available to homeless individuals. But these limited programs along with temporary shelters and soup kitchens run by churches and nonprofit organizations aren’t enough to quell the growing homeless problem.

Despite the individual struggles some homeless people face, the lack of affordable housing is a contributing factor.

There are a number of ways that people who are experiencing homeless get housed with state and federal aid, but the system is bogged down in red tape and qualifying for housing is a long and difficult process.

On the plus side, an 11-unit building of affordable apartments will be opened by the Friendship Center in New Britain next year. And while this is a move in the right direction, the need for more housing units is great.

Municipal and state officials must make affordable housing a priority if they are serious about reducing homelessness. Without more safe and affordable places to live, shelters will continue to operate at capacity and homelessness will never end.

Posted in The Bristol Press, Editorials on Tuesday, 20 February 2018 20:03. Updated: Tuesday, 20 February 2018 20:05.