Connecticut’s House Bill 6601, which came into effect on October 1, 2023, declares that homelessness is a public health crisis in the state of Connecticut and authorizes the City of New Haven to take such actions as may be appropriate to respond to the public health emergency at hand, including allowing the emergency shelters established at Amistad House to have lighting, HVAC, and smoke detectors.
We continue to try working with the city to create a permitting and zoning structure for us. They are currently refusing to permit electricity. Are they really going to insist that our village residents endure a cold winter without heat???
National Health Care for the Homeless Council reports:
Continuous displacement, especially with disrupted services, leads to devastating outcomes.
Increase in Overdose Mortality
Reduction in Life Expectancy
increase in Hospitalizations
This year in New Haven, more people are becoming homeless and they need help
Increase in homelessness*
People without housing
Shelter beds available
People living unsheltered
We believe that all people experiencing homelessness deserve dignity, safety, and access to community. Providing these basics to unhoused people affirms their humanity, improves their health and wellbeing, and establishes a foundation from which they can seek permanent housing.
The current system in New Haven lacks the capacity to serve all people who are unhoused, and it has forced many into living in unsheltered conditions throughout the city (streets, parks, bridges). Requests for the city to establish a small section of public land where people in need could legally live have been refused. What’s worse is that when unhoused people have created encampments as a last resort, the city has forcibly evicted them, destroyed their and even arrested them. Some people have died as a result of these sweeps.
How can you help?
We are fundraising to create the Rosette Neighborhood Village. Established on private property, this transitional housing village will transform lives for the better and be a living testament to the city that homelessness can be humanely addressed in a way that is safe, secure, and affordable.
Click on the topics below to learn more
The condition of being without a home is not the fault of the person who is experiencing homelessness, and they shouldn’t be blamed for their predicament. Contrary to what many people still believe, the deinstitutionalizing of mentally ill patients in the 1960s and 70s did not cause homelessness. There are many factors that can contribute to being homeless including economic inflation, loss of employment, rent increases, lack of affordable housing options, eviction, family medical bills, illness, disability, mental health, substance abuse, discrimination and racism (even though most homeless people in the US are white). The truth is that the real difference between people who are homeless and those who are not, is luck and circumstance. “It could happen to anyone. It’s not always drugs, alcohol. It’s not always something external. Life happens. And life can happen to a whole lot of us. It did during the great financial crisis, and it could very well happen again.” –Chris Gardner, formerly homeless and author of The Pursuit of Happyness
People living on the street is a moral crisis
Homelessness is a result of inequitable policies, practices, and choices our society has made. In the US, the wealthiest country in the world, more than 7 million households own a second home, while half a million people experience homelessness on any given night. More than a third of these vulnerable human beings are “unsheltered,” exposed to the elements in parks, on subways, on the streets, and in the woods. In any given year, the US Department of Education states that approximately 1.5 million of our nation’s children (eg, the population of the state of Maine) experience homelessness. As admirable and ethical as compassion is, responding robustly to remedy structural causes of homelessness is a matter of justice. We can largely end homelessness on a massive scale. To continue to choose not to do so is unjust and immoral.
Housing is a human right
In the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 25 (1), the United Nations established that adequate housing is a human right recognized in international human rights law as part of the right to an adequate standard of living. “Homelessness is not merely a lack of physical housing, but is also a loss of family, community, and a sense of belonging. It is a failure of multiple systems that are supposed to enable people to benefit from economic growth and lead a safe and decent life.” –UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres
Homelessness should not be criminalized
The criminalization of homelessness refers to measures that prohibit life-sustaining activities such as sleeping/camping, eating, sitting, and/or asking for money/resources in public spaces. These ordinances include criminal penalties for violations of these acts. Some criminalization measures include: •Carrying out sweeps: confiscating personal property including tents, bedding, papers, clothing, medications, etc. •Making panhandling illegal. •Enforcing a “quality of life” ordinance relating to public activity and hygiene When people experiencing homelessness are forcibly removed from public lands (as happened on March 16, 2023 when municipal authorities demolished Tent City—an encampment community that had peacefully existed for over two years) everyone bears a cost. Taxpayers foot the bill for the bulldozers, dump trucks, city workers, as well as the 20+ police officers who participated in the forced eviction. It goes without saying that the displaced residents suffer as well. If the city makes it illegal to sleep in a tent on unused land, where are people able to go?
Public solutions are currently too-little and too-slow
There is a lack of affordable housing in New Haven to meet the rising population of people who are experiencing homelessness. While individual public servants may have great intentions, the political process moves slowly. Even after public funds are allocated to support unhoused people, there’s a long process to determine how to spend the money. If a new housing project gets approved, then land needs to be chosen, building plans need to be drawn, a contractor needs to be selected … and that’s all before any building starts. As a result, affordable housing is not being built at a pace fast enough to end homelessness. “…we don’t have enough housing…” –CT Sen. Chris Murphy
The current shelter model lacks dignity and safety
While we appreciate and value the important work that our colleagues do to assist unhoused people throughout the city, we consistently hear about what is missing in the system. 1)Shelters have an in/out, “bed for a night” mode of operating that leaves people fundamentally insecure. They might have a warm place to sleep tonight, but what about tomorrow? 2)There’s no way to secure belongings. Not even a locker. That means that every single important thing that a person owns (family photos, birth certificate, a winter coat) must be carried in and out of the shelter, and it is at risk of theft. 3)Families and couples are often separated because groups are often divided by gender. 4)Warming centers (which receive lots of funding) are good at protecting people from the elements for a single night, but in most instances—there are no beds and no place to lie down to rest. 5)Good sleep is hard to come by because there is either no bed to sleep in (warming center), or everyone who gets a bed is together in one room (shelter). Poor sleep negatively impacts health, and does not help people experiencing homelessness face the challenge of acquiring employment or permanent housing. “There are certain people for whom it's always unsafe to stay in a congregate shelter setting. There are people who need to stay in shelter all day, and not just overnight, because you know, they have medications they need to refrigerate or need to rest or you know, any number of things.” –Expert in Transitional Housing “Congregate housing and large shelters didn’t work that well in the first place, did not support the dignity of the homeless as people. The pandemic has shown us clearly that other ways of securing housing—such as hotels, small transitional units, and private low-income housing units—are essential, and more creative thinking needs to be encouraged if we are going to eliminate massive homelessness. –Portland, Maine resident who experienced homelessness
Our village model offers health-promoting benefits
A village model of housing can better meet the needs of individuals for whom the traditional shelter system doesn’t work. For example, a village model better accommodates those living in family groups, or with physical or mental health conditions that make shelter life uncomfortable or unsafe. Importantly, it provides a more dignified and secure living environment, and allows residents to take ownership over the place in which they live and build a community with their fellow neighbors. It is also more affordable than traditional shelter spaces. “It provides an opportunity for couples, people with pets, to sleep at night while they’re seeking other opportunities. The shelters are way better than a tent. It has heat, electricity and AC. Their basic needs are met.” –Brenda Konkel, Executive Director, Madison Street Medicine
Transitional housing can be affordable
The old model of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to build a single transitional housing unit can and should be updated. For pennies on the dollar, we are assembling secure transitional housing structures that have the capability to be moved and reconfigured to flexibly respond to community needs. This is a win-win solution for the city of New Haven, but it will not fix the problem of homelessness. The way to functionally end homelessness is to create more affordable housing. Unfortunately, that takes time to build and the political will to do it. People sleeping on the street can’t wait. The time to do something is now. The emergency is tonight. “What you see here is very successful for a lot of reasons. One, when you do tiny home villages like this, you can house two to three times more people for the same dollar. So we’re getting two to three times more people out of the rain, to get in a secure environment, so they can work on some of their other challenges.” –WA Gov. Jay Inslee remarking on the villages created in Vancouver, WA
The tiny houses are “a safe place, a safe start, somewhere secure that you can actually lock and call your own, a place where we can start to build our lives again… to wake up every day and go to work.”
Suki Godet, backyard neighbor speaking about the Rosette Neighborhood Village