Hartford's plan to end homelessness by 2015, like 300 other plans launched across the country, has at its core one fundamental solution: the construction of 2,133 units of supportive housing for the chronically homeless.
More than half of those units would be situated in the suburban towns that surround the city.
Although Mayor Eddie A. Perez enlisted the input of the 29-member Capitol Region Council of Governments in developing the plan, history suggests that winning the cooperation of municipalities in the region won't be easy.
Connecticut's 1988 affordable housing law established that every municipality must have about 10 percent of its housing stock in a range that low-income working families can afford. Communities with less than 10 percent must demonstrate a clear public purpose for rejecting housing plans that include affordable units. Despite the law, many suburban towns have managed to remain way behind the 10 percent goal.
Most of the homeless eventually get back on their feet. Federal officials define the chronically homeless as that small percentage of people with disabling conditions, such as drug addiction, mental illness or physical handicaps, who remain homeless for more than a year or have had four incidents of homelessness in three years.
Studies show that the chronically homeless cost society far more in police, hospital, pharmaceutical and other social services than they would if they lived in a permanent setting where their daily needs are met, which is what supportive housing provides.
It would be terribly disappointing if Hartford's neighbors resisted supportive housing in the same way that some have dodged affordable housing.
CROG's participation in the city's plan to end homelessness is an encouraging recognition that suburban towns have to do their part in accommodating the less fortunate.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at