City group plans to take on homelessness

A “city” of tents and rows of lights are among upcoming additions to the New Haven Green.

At the Downtown Wooster Square Management Team meeting Tuesday night, Frederick Morrison, the project manager for the New Haven Plan to End Homelessness, presented an update on the current status of city homelessness. The plan, which started in 2005, aims to get the homeless off the streets and into permanent housing by 2015 by improving access to housing, employment and services for homeless individuals and families.

“Many are chronically homeless, and most have severe mental illnesses and chronic substance abuse issues that make it difficult to organize and manage their lives,” Morrison said. “That’s where we focus most of our attention with this plan.”

According to statistics gathered by the most recent point-in-time homlessness count, there are 816 homeless people in New Haven, Morrison said.

Though the 10-year plan focuses on long-term solutions, other efforts are underway to fund shelters such as the Columbus House. The New Haven Night on the Green, a fundraising event where organizations and individuals can pay $1,000 to sponsor a tent, is scheduled for Nov. 20. The “tent city” aims to raised $25,000 for local shelters through United Way.

Anstress Farwell GRD ’78, the president of the New Haven Urban Design League, spoke at the meeting to update the management team on the state of three buildings on Crown between State and Orange streets. These buildings were originally intended to be renovated into low-income housing, but the plan fell through, Farwell said, because of lack of the owner’s compliance.

“The buildings, which are listed as contributing buildings as part of Night Square historic district, have been in bad condition for years,” Farwell said. “What we’ve been charged to do is update them to compliance with national park service standards.”

Farwell said there is no plan this winter as to how buildings will be secured, sealed and protected from the weather.

Winfield Davis, the director of operations for the Town Green District, said the New Haven Luminaria, or lines of candles along pathways on the Green, will be set up starting Dec. 4.

Until then, wreaths and snowflakes will start to decorate lampposts in downtown New Haven, he said.

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