Bid To End Chronic Homelessness Perez Taps Bank President, Archbishop
To Lead Group
February 1, 2005
By OSHRAT CARMIEL, Courant Staff Writer
With a city census showing that over 1,000 adults and families are
homeless in Hartford, Mayor Eddie A. Perez said Monday that he's decided
to try and solve the homeless problem for good - and do it within 10
Perez's solution amounted to the creation of a 24-member commission, a collation
of public, private and nonprofit community leaders who will be given 90 days
to come up with a plan to tackle chronic homelessness.
The group's emphasis will not be the 1,054 adults and families that the
city estimates were homeless in 2004, but a subset of that group: the
322 adults and families who were considered "chronically homeless." The
chronically homeless are those who experience repeated bouts of homelessness
in a short period of time - and that homelessness is usually underpinned
by mental illness or substance abuse.
"Just providing a bed and a sandwich for someone is not a solution," Perez said
Perez's "Commission to End Chronic Homelessness" is bolstered by the gravitas
of faith and finance: it is being co-chaired by Hartford Archbishop Henry Mansell
and Connecticut Bank of America president Susan Rottner.
"Civilization enjoys its finest hours when it's defending the weak and the vulnerable," Mansell
said at a press conference Monday.
The commission, which will meet on Thursday, will consider a host of statistics
gleaned from a 2004 city study of its homeless population.
That study, which was based on one night last February when people counted the
total number of people sleeping in the city's shelters, supportive housing units,
transitional housing units, and on the streets, found that:
10 percent of the shelter population came to the shelter after
being released from prison.
Lack of employment was one of the top five factors that contributed
to homelessness among those in the shelters and transitional housing.
Mental illness and substance abuse were the main factors contributing
to homelessness among those living in transitional housing.
In trying to come up with a 10-year plan to end chronic homelessness,
Hartford is doing what many other cities already have done.
At least 175 cities and counties nationwide have pledged to
come up with or drafted similar 10-year plans, said Philip
F. Mangano, executive director of the United States Interagency
Council on Homelessness in Washington.
Mangano, who praised Hartford's initiative and attended Monday's
press conference, encouraged commission members to avail themselves
of the solutions that other communities have established.
"Finding the best practices elsewhere and stealing them is legitimate larceny," Mangano
Archbishop Mansell nodded in agreement.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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