Perez Offers Plan To Address Problem, Provide Housing Across Region
By DANIEL E. GOREN, Courant Staff Writer
October 10, 2007
Three years after assembling a commission aimed at ending homelessness in the Hartford region, Mayor Eddie A. Perez presented an implementation plan he says can achieve that goal by 2015.
"This is a city of hope and opportunity," Perez said Tuesday to a crowd gathered at McKinney Shelter in Hartford. "And we are going to continue this legacy."
Shelters in the city of Hartford served more than 4,000 people last year, 20 percent of those children, according to the plan. That does not count what some call the "hidden homeless," or those who sleep in difficult-to-find places such as under bridges or in the woods.
Perez started a study commission in 2004 to develop a plan to end homelessness, resulting in a report that set the 10-year goal.
A second commission was then convened in 2006 to implement the goal outlined in the initial report. That commission, with 18 members, engaged more than 130 volunteers and took a regional approach to attacking the problem, teaming with the 29 member towns of the Capitol Region Council of Governments as well as service providers throughout the region.
"Homelessness knows no geographic boundaries," said William H. Farley, the commission's chairman.
One of the plan's core missions is to build more than 2,000 supportive housing units throughout the Hartford area, predominantly for the chronically homeless.
The plan also calls for rapid re-entry for homeless people, bringing them straight from the street into a new home with support staff and services available. It also calls for a "Homeless Connect" day each year, where the homeless are offered a wide range of services simultaneously, ranging from haircuts and dental work to help finding a new home and job.
Philip F. Mangano, the executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness in Washington, spoke in support of the plan Tuesday. It is no longer true that offering a homeless person a "blanket and a bowl of soup is the best we can do," he said.
Mangano, who is credited with pushing the national perspective on homelessness away from "managing" a problem and toward solving it, said Tuesday that the answer is simple - the homeless need a home.
"What is the central antidote to ending homelessness?" Mangano said. "It's a place to live."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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