On Thursday, Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) announced that the state has been officially certified by the federal government as having effectively ended veteran homelessness.
The state had already ended chronic homelessness, or those who had been without a home for at least one year or four times in the past three, among its veteran population as of last summer. It was first state to lay claim to such a milestone. But Connecticut, along with many different states and cities, had signed up in 2014 to a pledge coordinated by the federal Opening Doors initiative to end homelessness for all veterans by the end of 2015.
Speaking to WNPR earlier in the day, Malloy asserted that the state met that deadline. “By the end of the year we had ended homelessness amongst veterans on a statewide basis,” he said. But Thursday’s announcement came after the Department of Housing and Urban Development officially verified it.
That means the 282 homeless veterans in the state as of early last year should all have housing or be on their way to it. It of course doesn’t mean that no veteran will ever become homeless again — but any who do can get into temporary housing within 30 days and permanent housing within 60.
“I’m very proud of it,” Malloy said. “We signed on in 2014 that we would end homelessness amongst veterans by the end of last year and we did it.”
That makes Connecticut the second state in the nation to say it’s ended veteran homelessness, after Virginia made its own announcement in November of last year. Nineteen cities have also done the same.
Malloy credited “a lot of great work” among state housing agencies, community groups, and people who work at actual shelters as well as partnerships with Veterans Affairs. He also noted that when he took office in 2011 there was no state housing department. “Since then, we’ve committed $1 billion to get housing built, including many, many affordable units,” he said. That includes more than 16,000 committed to be built over the last few years.
“The most important thing you can do for a family is to give it a safe home, give it a decent home, a home you can sustain yourself and your family in,” he said.
The cities and states that have ended homelessness for various populations have gotten there by taking a housing first approach, getting people into housing before addressing any other issues they may be dealing with. But that means ensuring that there is enough affordable housing to meet the need. Across the country, there is about a 3.2 million unit shortage. Even so, the goal is to end all chronic homelessness by the end of 2017 and to end it for other groups, like families and youth, after that.