Tag Archives: Chronic homelessness

Free dinner for those in need in Bushnell Park on Aug. 30

indexJourney Home and Arugula Bistro in West Hartford, Salute Restaurant in Hartford, Whole Foods Market West Hartford, and Starbucks Coffee are providing free meals to people in need in Hartford’s Bushnell Park, starting at 5 p.m.

Here’s where you come in:

Donate $25 (or more!) to  Journey Home to buy a meal for someone, and to help fund this organization’s efforts to prevent and end homelessness. (If you’ll remember, Journey Home did a lot of heavy lifting during Connecticut’s recent 100-day challenge to end chronic homelessness.


They. Did it. And more.

IMG_5854The dedicated team that worked on the Greater Hartford 100-day challenge to reduce chronic homelessness moved heaven and earth and did some amazing things — but not just in Greater Hartford.

There were similar efforts in Fairfield County, southeastern Connecticut and northeastern Connecticut. This in addition to the original effort in New Haven last year. Altogether, more than 140 agencies and providers worked with 85 percent of the state’s homeless population and what they did was pretty spectacular.

You can hear more about it on WNPR‘s “Where We Live” at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, where we’ll catch you up on what happened. You can also hear Sal Pinna make his radio debut. If you’ll remember, Sal was recently housed after 20 years on the street. That’s Sal in the picture, performing at the Charter Oak Cultural Center’s Center for Creative Learning graduation in May. And then when the ceremony was finished? Sal went home. Home!

There will also be a noon project wrap-up on Wednesday at Community Renewal Team Inc., 555 Windsor Street, Hartford. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra will be there as well. Advocates will also talk about how to sustain this momentum, so that the spirit of the 100-day challenge continues.

So these numbers may get updated there, but so far, because of the 100-day challenge:

  • More than 180 highly vulnerable and long homeless individuals were housed in New Haven
  • More than 120 individuals and families in Fairfield County were housed and another 80 were matched to housing
  • Nearly 50 chronically homeless individuals in Greater Hartford were housed and another 46 were matched to housing
  • More than 60 individuals in New London County were housed
  • Nearly 50 individuals and families in Windham County were housed

I know. Right? Do listen. And call in. And heckle. But remember that the people who did all the work during this 100-day challenge have worked incredible hours and done the impossible. If you see one of them, buy them a beer. Or a pony.


If you’ve nothing better to do…

…there’s a wrap-up of the 100-day challenge to greatly reduce chronic homelessness in the state on WNPR‘s “Where We Live” at 9 a.m. on Tuesday.

Better yet, the story will include Sal Pinna,IMG_5854 who is making his radio debut. If you’ll remember, Sal [pictured at a recent performance at Charter Oak Cultural Center] was recently housed after 20 years on the street.

Hartford to begin a municipal id program

immigrants-id-cardJoining cities like San Francisco, New York, and our own New Haven (see former Mayor John DeStefano, Jr.’s card over there?), Connecticut’s capital city is set to start their own municipal identification program in September.

Yesterday, I spoke with Mayor Pedro Segarra about this for a story for WNPR that will run later this month. The effect this will have on people who’ve been homeless and are trying to get housed is enormous. A lack of proper identification is a huge barrier for housing, and that’s been particularly obvious during Greater Hartford’s 100-day challenge to end chronic homelessness. For the country’s undocumented residents, a municipal ID card can open the path to citizenship. This is huge — huge enough that New York Mayor Bill de Blasio weighed in:

“We are thrilled to learn that the City of Hartford has approved the creation of a municipal identification card that will be available for all of its residents.  Our IDNYC program has been an incredible success, and we were happy to share our lessons with Hartford at a recent Cities United for Immigration Action Conference last month.  Cities across the country are sending a strong message that immigrant integration is critical to their success — when Washington fails, cities must act.”

(Emphasis is mine.)

Muni IDs are the coming thing for any city that wants to survive and any city that wants to see its residents thrive. Go, Hartford!


So someone offered to take Sal to a Mets game

SalPinnaHuggingSaraCapenSalomonsSal Pinna was homeless for 20 years, and then, through the efforts of advocates in Greater Hartford’s 100-day challenge to end chronic homelessness, he was housed in late April. I wrote about him for Sunday’s Courant and I’ve been reporting his story for WNPR for a few months now (the latest installment will air this morning during “Where We Live” sometime between 9 and 10 a.m.).

The story ran Sunday, but you could read it online on Friday, the day I and others spread it around on social media. People started contacting me first to congratulate me on housing Sal, though I did not house Sal. Other people did that, and you can read their names and affiliations here. I bow in their general direction because they all are big rolls of chocolate wrapped in awesomeness. And coconut.

So Friday, in between deflecting credit, I answered emails and texts from people who wanted to help Sal even more, including a nice man named Ken who wants to take Sal to see his beloved Mets. That is the coolest thing and Sal called him that night. Several other people offered televisions — one woman said it was because she was buying a “big-ass” television and didn’t need the smaller one. I thought that was pretty funny. And honest. Others offered furniture, a bed, an entertainment center, a couple of couches…

That’s all wonderful, but know this: Sal is housed and he has all the household goods he needs. He’s getting a job soon and he’s going to be self-sufficient, with some supports.

Today, Sara Capen Salomons of Journey Home (the 100-day challenge lead agency) (and that’s her hugging Sal the morning he found out he was being housed) is housing another man who has nothing. No. Thing. And she has to come up with household goods for that man who, unlike Sal, hasn’t had a reporter dogging him for six months. Yet this man is coming from circumstances every bit as hellish as Sal’s. So thank you for your kindnesses toward Sal, but he’s on his way. There are still some 70 other people who will soon be turning the key in their new apartments with nothing but the stuff they’ve carried in a backpack, sometimes for years. Please let’s remember them, too. Below is a list of things the newly-housed people need in their new apartments, and yes. The list involves pretty much everything, from razors to bath mats to pots and pans. It’s been a struggle figuring out where to store this stuff, and if you can deliver, all the better:

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If you’ve nothing better to do…

IMG_5245Tomorrow, I’m on WNPR’s “Where We Live” talking about the 100-day challenge to greatly reduce chronic homelessness in the Hartford area, with Nathan Fox, Hartford’s Center Church Warburton director of outreach, and one of those young movers-and-shakers who one day will rule the world — but in a good way.

The show starts at 9 a.m., though I don’t think my segment starts until 9:30 or so.

This has, up to now, been a pretty challenging series of stories. During this 100-day push, which ends June 19, I’ve been following Sal Pinna (that’s him in the picture), a Long Island native who’s been homeless for 20 years. On March 31, the Hartford no-freeze shelter where Sal had been staying was closed for the season, and Sal and 49 other men were out on the street. Although activists and advocates tried to get Sal into a shelter, Sal didn’t want to go. The most help he would accept was a sleeping bag, given to him by Sara Capen Salomons, my friend who works at Journey Home, the lead agency in this effort. Texts, emails, and phone calls were flying back and forth among people who know Sal, and they all had the same theme: What are we going to do? You can’t force someone inside.

Since then, Sal’s been sleeping rough, outdoors within site of the state Capitol. Ironic, yes? I took the picture above in a chilly rain last week. He’d been getting meals at local soup kitchens. For luck, he had put on every t-shirt and button he owns emblazoned with the symbol of his patron saint, Batman. All he wanted, he said, was a “normal” life, with a door that locks and a bed of his own. And no curfews. And control of the TV remote.

As a journalist, you must maintain professional remove from stories like this, or you will be eaten alive. I tell my journalism students that, but I’m mostly lying. I do not know the journalist worth her salt who could remove herself entirely from Sal’s predicament.

I’ve known Sal for a few years now, known his challenges and known his utter sweetness. When you know a person who is homeless by name, all the theories, all the policies, become personal. So let’s put it this way: For this story, I didn’t think it would end this way.

Listen, won’t you?

If you’ve nothing better to do…

sal_pinna_with_social_security_cardSara Salomons, development consultant at Journey Home and I are on WNPR’s “Where We Live.” We’re talking about the 100-day challenge to greatly reduce chronic homelessness in Greater Hartford.

Part of that story is Sal Pinna (pictured) and his quest for a Social Security card — a must in order for him to get housed.

You can hear the pre-recorded part here. But please listen, call in, and heckle.