Homelessness isnâ€™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 doesnâ€™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 arenâ€™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.