Contact: Kerensa Konesni
February 18, 2016
State Senator Mae Flexer (D-Killingly), who is Senate Chair of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, joined Governor Dannel P. Malloy today to announce that the federal government has certified Connecticut as having effectively ended veteran homelessness.
Ending homelessness among veterans has been a major goal of the State of Connecticut, which in 2014 became one of the first states to join a national initiative which sought to secure commitments from communities across the country to end veteran homelessness by the end of 2015.
Last August, at the VA Hospital in Newington, Sen. Flexer joined Gov. Malloy and U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary MacDonald announced last fall that Connecticut had become the first state in the country to end chronic homelessness among veterans; chronic homelessness is defined as an individual with a disability who has been homeless for a period of at least one year or has had three or more episodes of homelessness that total one year.
Today’s announcement means the state has effectively eliminated homelessness among all veterans.
“We as a state and as a nation have many promises to keep to our veterans, who made indescribable sacrifices to protect our nation and our way of life here in America,” Sen. Flexer said. “That there are any veterans that are homeless in this country is a great shame. Today’s announcement that we have effectively ended homelessness among the men and women who served our country is just one of the many commitments that we owe them; no veteran should ever be homeless. This would not have been possible without the tremendous vision of Governor Dan Malloy and Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman. Connecticut is leading the nation because of their tenacity and commitment.”
Sen. Flexer also took a moment during today’s good news to reflect on a difficult time for one veteran—her father, a Vietnam veteran, who once housed the four-member Flexer family for nearly six months in a motel and then in a kerosene-heated trailer in South Killingly when their family was struggling.
“It’s hard to talk about this now because society generally blames people who experience poverty. But despite the hardships, I know my mother and father sacrificed everything for me and my sister,” Sen. Flexer said. “My family’s struggle was related to my dad’s PTSD, which was not diagnosed at the time. But times have changed, and I know that today the federal VA and Connecticut are very much focused on ensuring that veterans and their families won’t struggle like we did.”
“This milestone is a major one—we have been a national leader on so many issues and today is yet another reflection. We have an obligation to take care of our veterans, to ensure that veterans have access to housing, quality health care, education, and career opportunities. We’re proud to have achieved this ambitious goal,” Gov. Malloy said today. “Just a few years ago, there was no Department of Housing in Connecticut. Today, we’re being recognized for reaching the high goals that we’ve set. We’ve built the infrastructure, through a network of partnerships and investments, to the point at which our housing and supports delivers a home to every veteran in our state. I am incredibly proud of our federal and state agencies, our nonprofits, and our community providers on the frontlines. But we will not stop here—we will keep working to end chronic homelessness in Connecticut by the end of this year.”
In a letter to the governor, First Lady Michelle Obama—who has spearheaded the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness—congratulated Connecticut on its accomplishment.
“As we discussed at the President’s State of the Union Address, I want to thank you and the people of Connecticut for your determined efforts on behalf of our military families,” the First Lady wrote. “I am so proud of your state’s commitment and resolve to reach this milestone, and I am grateful for all you have done for America’s heroes.”
Even with its strengthened homeless prevention services, this designation does not mean a veteran in Connecticut will never again experience an episode of homelessness.
Instead, it means that when a veteran enters an episode of homelessness, the state has the capacity and sustainable systems in place to quickly find and connect this veteran to the assistance needed for him or her to achieve stable, permanent housing. The state’s network of partners are constantly identifying veterans who are experiencing homelessness, rapidly providing them with interim housing when necessary, and placing them into permanent housing with the appropriate support services within 90 days.
“Connecticut has a long history of ‘Serving Those Who Served,’ dating back to 1864 when the doors to the first Veterans home opened in Darien,” Connecticut Department of Veterans’ Affairs Commissioner Sean M. Connolly said. “Today’s announcement follows in that same tradition of commitment to our Service women and men through the continued determination of our state leadership putting Veterans first and the vital collaborative relationships between other state and federal entities. This is an incredible victory for Connecticut Veterans.”
This accomplishment is the result of over two years of successful collaboration to enhance Connecticut’s homelessness response system for veterans. Through vastly improved data collection and analysis, streamlined referral protocols, coordinated outreach, a new interim housing system, reformed housing assistance programming, bi-weekly reporting, and targeted resources, Connecticut has reinvented its system for assisting veterans who experience homelessness. These procedures have resulted in veterans having a permanent home within 90 days, with a safe place to stay in the interim. The greatest asset to this effort was the dedicated front-line staff who made this new system a reality with their hard work to rapidly connect with veterans and put them on the path to housing.
Chair: Aging; Veterans’ Affairs
Vice-Chair: Environment; Higher Education & Employment Advancement
Member: Appropriations; Judiciary
Legislative Office Building
Hartford, CT 06106-1591
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