(WTNH) – Homelessness is a major concern across the country, particularly during the colder months. In Connecticut, leaders are offering new solutions to address the need.
Local advocates are calling the need an emergency crisis. They’re asking state leaders for more funding to address homelessness year-round, but especially during the colder months.
Connecticut allocates $5 million for emergency funding fur the winter, but advocates want legislators to add the funding to the state’s annual budget.
“The five-million dollars that the state allocated for cold weather emergency response must be made a permanent fixture as part of the state budget and not scrounged up as an emergency, eleventh-hour add-on as it has been,” Steve Werlin, Executive Director of Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen said.
Activists in New Haven said in the past two years they have helped more than 700 homeless individuals and 250 families find housing. They estimate there are still 250 homeless people and 25 homeless families in the greater new haven area. There is also a lack of shelter beds compared to before the pandemic.
“Five million in cases of emergency is a great thing, but we need to make sure that we’re steadily increasing that amount because five million is not enough,” said State Rep. Robyn Porter (D).
28-year-old Tyrell Jackson is currently homeless and living in a so-called “tent city” off Ella T. Boulevard in New Haven. He has a job but said it is not enough to make ends meet. He lives with about 40 neighbors, who are all facing frigid temperatures.
New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker said challenges around the homeless are more significant today than three years ago, and more must be done to support the most vulnerable in the community.
“In the long term, we’re not going to be able to solve this problem by only funding emergency warming shelters,” Elicker said. “We’re not going to be able to solve this problem by having the major cities in Connecticut play a leadership role in other partners around our state.”
Stay tuned to News 8 for more on this story coming up at 6 p.m.