Partnership to End Homelessness in SE CT

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                                                          About Us 

Mission:To create a Continuum of Care that engages the diverse resources found in our region. The resources will be used to implement a full range of housing options and support services so that no child, woman, or man is homeless. 
History:In the year 2000, the geographic areas of the City of New London, the City of Norwich, and New London County consolidated as the New London County Continuum of Care. This was done in order to apply for federal grants for supportive housing and homeless services that were available to the region through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HUD requires that regions have a strategic and effective planning process to ensure a coordinated and regional approach to the issue of homelessness. The Southeastern Connecticut Partnership on Housing and Homelessness is the lead entity for the Continuum of Care Planning and application process. The Partnership has spent recent years developing a strong collaboration to address the region's homeless needs and has evolved into an entity that is vested in the broader housing needs of our community. 

The Partnership is comprised of several committees dedicated to fulfilling the mission. Each committee includes members from a cross section of our community. Members include social service agencies, men and women of the business community, youth service workers, mental health workers, veteran’s administrations, healthcare workers, and local housing authorities. 

The Steering Committee serves as the lead entity with oversight responsibilities for the subcommittees. The Steering Committee meets quarterly to discuss subcommittee work, identify and analyze service gaps and needs and develop strategies to meet those needs. Chairs of the subcommittees are members of the Steering Committee to ensure seamless communication in the planning process. Other members of the Steering Committee are community leaders representing the local and state political arena, health care facilities, housing coalitions, religious organizations, and other organizations with a stake in ending homelessness in the Southeastern Connecticut community.  

The Housing Committee has the primary purpose of creating supportive housing.  The committee’s work encompasses searching and securing funding for all three elements that define supportive housing: housing, rental subsidies, and support services. With the exception of the Next Step Initiative (which is no longer funded) and Veterans Administration Supportive Housing (VASH) there are little to no entities that have the capacity to fund housing, rent subsidies and services combined.  It is to this extent that the housing committee looks for new innovative ways to piece-meal funding for all three elements. The committee works to secure “set asides” from local housing developers, public and private subsidized housing providers, as well as private landlords and investors.  As an effort to access rental subsidies, the committee especially focuses on developing working relationships with housing authorities who have a section 8 portfolio and who have the capacity to convert tenant based, section 8 subsidies to project based subsidies specifically for supportive housing. Finding and securing funding for support services is the largest barrier to creating supportive housing.  Current efforts to secure funding for services include: working with service providers to expand current case loads at no fee; request funding through the State of Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS), and the Department of Social Services (DSS).  The committee works with statewide advocates in seeking a commitment from the state to provide ongoing funding for support services. The committee explores other alternative funding resources such as the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP), Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP), and Community Development Block Grants (CDBG).  The committee also works with the HUD Grant Committee to apply for “Bonus Dollars” through the Balance of State (BOS), which can be used to develop new supportive housing units for chronically homeless persons.  Finally, the committee monitors all supportive housing projects across the region and offers and/or provides support to ensure completion of all projects. The Housing Committee meets quarterly, and the committee has 12 members who represent staff from various private non-profit, state and government agencies.  The committee members work closely with lead agencies whose focus is to create supportive housing and who provides statewide technical assistance based on local needs and local resources.  Lead agencies include:  Center for Housing Innovations (CHI); Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH); Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness (CCEH); and the Reaching Home Campaign. 

The Norwich Community Care Team is collaborative effort of caring people from the Norwich social service system invested in finding solutions to chronic homelessness among the adult population. The team focuses on addressing the gaps in the delivery of mental health and substance abuse services and on meeting the physical needs of this population. The Norwich Community Care Team has identified a goal of providing services to adults in the Norwich community that none the participating agencies could provide alone. Each of the agencies provides specific services to people based on the mission statement of the Community Care Team and funding sources. Referrals can be made to the Care Team through any committee member, or by attending the meeting and presenting the problem. The committee asks a one week notice is given so it can be placed on the agenda. The Norwich Community Care Team coordinates the Homeless Memorial Night on December 21st of each year. Each year a thank you pot luck dinner is held to thank the volunteers who cook during the winter. At this yearly dinner, a presentation is made on the status for the year.  One of the greatest accomplishments of the committee has been a formation of a Hospitality Center. The Hospitality Center was developed as an immediate response to the lack of shelter beds during the winter of 2002-2003, one of the coldest winters in recent history. The goal was to bring people who were sleeping outside in the cold and snow, under bridges and in tents inside for the hardest part of winter.  Community Care Team participants represent a wide range of professionals from across all of Southeastern Connecticut, ranging from housing and service providers to law enforcement and health care providers. The Care Team holds monthly meetings to review policy issues, agency updates, new funding streams, and to review cases. Additionally, members meet in weekly subgroups to review individual cases and plan for services are asked to be receptive of being called upon between meetings to provide direct services or broker for one. Members share information and challenge the status quo in hopes of easing the access of services for those in most need. Typically, members of the committee are in daily contact with each other, especially when the Hospitality Center is open.  

The New London Community Care Team is comprised of anyone who is involved in the safety net for homelessness. This includes service providers, police and municipal officers. The group meets as a whole on a monthly basis to look at issues which arise within the system and on a weekly basis in smaller groups to case manage specific individuals. Topics that have been covered recently include representative payees, mental health assessments and ways to improve communication.  

The Family Care Team is comprised of New London County agencies (state and local government and non-profit agencies) that provide services and assistance for families who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Meeting once a month, the Family Care Team provides an opportunity for service providers working with homeless and at-risk families to come together and share resources and ideas, to ensure the highest degree of coordination possible to meet the needs of vulnerable families with children facing housing crises. The Family Care Team also discusses cases, with an eye toward sharing thoughts about resources and possibilities to help families in crisis in our area. The Committee will have guest speakers from agencies in the group to educate members on current programs, policies and activities. Recently, the guests were from DCF and the group discussed the way in which homelessness can impact DCF concerns about and involvement with families and children. The committee also discussed possible ways in which coordination could be improved.  

The Employment and Income Committee is a two-fold committee, working to provide individuals with employment assistance and income.  On the Employment leg, members represent of a variety of private non-profit and for profit employment agencies that provide services to people with disabilities, Bureau of Rehabilitation Services representation as well as Southeastern Mental Health Authority Vocational staff. These committee members meet with individuals who run homeless shelters to determine what their needs are for employment services. The committee members will be volunteering time to go to the New London Homeless Hospitality Center, Soup Kitchen and MASH to assess people for employment and to determine what services they are eligible for. The committee will meet as a group every three to four months to review progress.  The income leg of the Employment and Income Committee coordinates the Social Security Outreach and Access to Recovery (SOAR) program. SOAR is a demonstration project that helps homeless shelters take and properly develop Social Security and Supplemental Security Income Disability claims, resulting in quicker medical decisions. The committee meets quarterly with SOAR organizations, and works with these groups to ensure that appeals of initial medical denials are filed timely by the homeless population. Additionally, the committee conducts outreach and training on an ongoing basis to workers of non-profit agencies on the Social Security Administration Disability (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.  

The Emergency Services Committee is comprised of all providers of emergency services (such as emergency shelter and food programs) and agencies which have ongoing contact with individuals who are homeless who are interested in participating. The group has a special emphasis on coordinating the "no freeze" strategy for our region. The goal of the “no freeze” initiative is to provide basic overnight shelter for homeless individuals during the cold winter months when sleeping outside can be brutal. The committee meets on an as needed basis, but more frequently during the winter months. The first meeting after the “no freeze” time period will be to evaluate how the winter went.  

The Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Committee:  The Universal Supportive Housing Screening Committee reviews all applications and referrals for supportive housing. The Screening Committee meets monthly to review the programs the applicant is applying for, and make decisions as to what wait lists/programs the applicant will be placed on. This is done through meeting with the applicant and a vote by committee members.  The committee also reviews and discusses vacancies in supportive housing programs and how they were filled in reference to the "universal wait list". The Screening Committee discusses and resolves any systems issues such as the efficiency of the application process and proper usage of the universal waiting list by the supportive housing providers. When possible, the committees also networks and help case managers with addressing potential solutions to address immediate housing needs of applicants.  The committee usually reviews 12 to 15 applications per month.  Representation from at least 5 agencies must be present in order for the committee to vote on accepting applicants or not.  Otherwise, the meeting would not be held. The Screening Committee accepts self-referrals as well! The Screening Committee is comprised of all supportive housing providers in SECT representing 9 agencies that provide supportive housing and 13 supportive housing programs. The 23 committee members range from supportive housing providers to various agencies and programs that serve as potential referral sources (emergency shelter providers, transitional housing providers, hospitals, community care teams, human service providers, etc.) The Screening Committee works to market the universal process. As a committee, they have training with various community agencies on the process and how to complete the application. This training was completed at agencies including the Department of Children and Families, Catholic Charities, Reliance House, Sound Community Services and the Southeastern Mental Health Authority. The committee will soon be conducting training at Backus Hospital, DCF again, and United Community Family Service. Below are links to relevant Universal Supportive Housing Screening Committee documents including the universal application, grievance policy and policies and procedures of the committee. (list documents by names with links to PDF version of each) 

The Connecticut Homeless Management Information System (CTHMIS) Steering Committee oversees and guides the development and management of the CTHMIS. This CTHMIS Steering Committee is comprised of two representatives from each Continuum of Care in the state. Through the direction of these dedicated Steering Committee members, policies and procedures were developed and maintained to reflect the community’s stance on the operation of the CTHMIS. The Connecticut Coalition To End Homelessness (CCEH) is the administrating agency for the CTHIMS and convenes the Steering Committee. 
The CTHMIS Steering Committee has as guiding principles that the CTHMIS:

                    Implementation minimizes risk and maximizes benefits for homeless men women and children
                    Is designed to protect and meet the needs of consumers
                    Is a reliable, flexible and consistent technological system to benefit persons who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless by providing data that:
                    Captures accurate local, regional, and statewide information about characteristics and service needs, and
                    Improves care and access to care by allowing for a fully integrated system of referrals and service delivery to people who are homeless
                    Uses a data security approach to information management that balances confidentiality, so that only authorized people see it; integrity, so that data are not modified in any way; and availability, so that data are accessible to those who use it when they need it. An underlying philosophy that has driven the process is the protection of the personal data of each individual. Clients must give informed consent to having their data entered into system and authorization to have their data shared and with whom it may be shared. They may decide not to participate and they may not be denied services for lack of participation. A goal of the CTHMIS is to inform public policy about the extent and nature of homelessness in the state of Connecticut. This is accomplished through analysis and release of data that are grounded in the actual experiences of homeless persons and the service providers who assist them in shelters and homeless assistance programs throughout the state. Information that is gathered via interviews, conducted by service providers with consumers, is analyzed for an unduplicated count, aggregated (void of any identifying client level information) and made available to policy makers, service providers, advocates, and consumer representatives. The CTHIMS Steering Committee meets quarterly. As the system has been implemented, current consideration is given to enhancements – such as further integration with other CT databases (DMHAS, DSS, etc), and reporting to help understand the problem and guide us toward a solution. 

The Point in Time Count Committee: The HUD Grant Committee was created to centralize the activities specific to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development grant. Members of this committee are responsible for developing an annual timeline of tasks to be completed for the grant process and have assumed the responsibility of coordinating and writing the HUD application.