Mayor Toni Harp, Community Services Administrator Martha Okafor and officials from five organizations held a press conference in City Hall on Monday morning to announce the findings of a homelessness assessment study commissioned in the fall of 2014.
The study, titled “Needs Assessment on Homelessness in New Haven,” used methods such as interviews, direct observation, focus groups and data gathering to quantify various aspects of homelessness and offer recommendations on how to address its most pressing issues.
John Bradley, co-chair of Greater New Haven Opening Doors and executive director of Liberty Community Services — two organizations that offer services to the local homeless population, said he is not aware of a study as comprehensive as the one announced Monday since former Mayor John DeStefano’s Ten Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness, released in December 2005.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for New Haven to look at where we are with the issue of homelessness,” Bradley said.
Bradley noted said an important recommendation from the study was its call for increased collaboration among organizations and agencies in combating homelessness, something the Ten Year Plan also suggested. He added that the report’s breakdown of the city’s homelessness funding sources and determination of the cost-per-stay at local shelters and housing units were new and useful insights.
Kellyann Day, CEO of the homelessness assistance organization New Reach, said she was pleased that the study made mention of New Haven’s rapid rehousing initiative, which stems from a federal bill enacted in 2009 whose priorities relating to homelessness have been adopted by states including Connecticut. Day added that she is seeing a decrease the lengths of stays for families in the shelters she manages, which she attributed to the initiative.
New Haven commits over $1 million a year to provide services to homeless residents, said Laurence Grotheer, director of communications at the mayor’s office.