Yesterday, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced that Connecticut had ended veterans homelessness. The state actually accomplished this by the end of 2015, but they were waiting on the Department of Housing and Urban Development to officially verify it. It is one thing to say one has accomplished such a feat, and quite another to have the federal government sign off on it.
(This is not to be confused with last August’s announcement, where Connecticut had ended chronic homelessness — the pernicious, long-lasting kind — among veterans.)
And that’s a big damn deal and a lot of people should take pride that they, personally, had a huge hand in this. I won’t list them here. They know who they are and when someone writes the book on this, their names will be in bold.
I am working on a story for WNPR about this for next month, but (not to be a buzz-kill) in the meanwhile, let’s be clear on our language.
- There is no actually ending of homelessness. What communities and states agree to is reaching “functional zero,” and you can find a definition for that here.
- There will always be homelessness. Always. But what’s happening is Connecticut has created and continues to finesse a system by which people who fall into homelessness are housed quickly and efficiently — and then provided all the supports they need to stay housed.
- This is called “housing first,” and it works, goddammit.
The next step for the state? Ending all chronic homelessness — and now you know what that means.