NEW HAVEN, CT (WFSB) - The City of New Haven announced on Monday that Columbus House, in coordination with the Greater New Haven Coordinated Access Network, has successfully housed more than 100 people who were experiencing homelessness amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Early in the outbreak, the city, along with GNH-CAN, said it made efforts to decompress the homeless shelters and warming center by placing homeless individuals into local hotels.
Since then is believes it made great strides to house those who needed it.
Data scientists at Columbus House were tracking the anticipated impact of the virus on the homeless population in the New Haven region. The early numbers were of great concern to the team.
The team then quickly coordinated with the GNH-CAN, state Department of Housing and the City of New Haven’s Community Services Administration Office of Housing and Homelessness. They were able to reallocate existing funding for “rapid exit.” Rapid exit is solely from the Department of Housing and is designed to allow an individual to rapidly exit homelessness. The city said those people have income but need a boost for things like a security deposit for a place to live, for example.
“This is a testament to what community can do even in challenging times,” said Mayor Justin Elicker. “As we are standing together as a community to address police brutality in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police, I want to take a moment to share how grateful I am for the continued partnership between the City’s Office of Housing and Homelessness., Columbus House, the State Department of Housing, and the Coordinated Access Network. We have housed over one hundred individuals who were experiencing homelessness in a time when we absolutely need to maintain services to those populations that need it the most. For that, I am so proud of what New Haven can do even in this time of pandemic, protest, conversation, and action."
The GNH-CAN, one of eight regions across the state, found that there were more than 300 individuals experiencing homelessness in the greater New Haven region. Its partner agencies identified homeless individuals in New Haven with an income of $700 or more a month so that they could be housed. Once a person was identified, Columbus House then matched the client to a landlord that was amenable to renting to the individual.
“As an early adopter of the ‘Housing First’ model, getting people permanently housed is at the core of Columbus House’s mission," said Margaret Middleton, Columbus House CEO. "Securing safe, permanent housing for over 100 people in less than 90 days during a global health crisis was nothing short of a miracle. It only happens when we enlist the collective skill and expertise of the entire community. I am extremely proud of the Columbus House staff for their dedication to those we serve."
Cathleen Meaden, the director of housing services at Columbus House, released a statement on their role in the housing effort.
“What COVID-19 has shown us is a reminder that housing is health care," Meaden said. "If people are housed, they are safer, and our community is safer. We must not forget this when the pandemic is over. There is no problem that being housed doesn’t improve. If you are homeless, your health is at risk; if you are homeless, your mental health is at risk, if you are homeless, your substance abuse disorder could be at risk. Housing is healthcare, and we need not forget that.”