Theo Godfrey, Contributing Photographer

On Tuesday evening, the Board of Alders’ finance committee approved plans to fund an emergency housing program to tackle rising homelessness in New Haven.

The city of New Haven will provide emergency housing for the growing homeless population before a potentially dangerous winter by partnering with Continuum of Care in a $3.5 million partnership. The city will use $2 million of American Rescue Plan Act funding for the program. Continuum of Care Inc., a local non-profit working to help adults suffering from mental illnesses to “break the cycle” of homelessness and incarceration.

“Our nation is currently experiencing a heartbreaking surge in homelessness, leaving countless individuals and families without a roof over their heads,” said Carlos Sosa-Lombardo, New Haven’s director of community resilience. “This crisis demands our compassion, understanding and swift response.”

The program will involve the purchase of the property at 270 Foxon Blvd., currently a hotel, and will accommodate 112 unhoused people. It will also provide 24/7 care with mental health clinicians on site.

As per the contract, Continuum of Care will be required to ensure that no more than 15 percent of clients are discharged into homelessness, with 40 percent to be released into permanent housing upon discharge.

“We must acknowledge the timeline we are working under,” said Sosa-Lombardo. “Our goal is to help as many unhoused community members as possible ahead of the winter season.”

The city’s goal is for the program to be operational by December 2023.

The company contracted to operate the program, Continuum of Care, is a non-profit organization founded in New Haven in 1966. Continuum of Care currently serves more than 2,000 people, acting as one of the largest community housing providers in Connecticut. 

“Continuum of Care, Inc. comes highly recommended for their compassionate approach and commitment to helping the most vulnerable among us,” said Sosa-Lombardo.

John Labieniec, vice president for acute and forensic services at Continuum of Care, said that Continuum is committed to providing quality services and a homelike, non-judgemental and uplifting environment.

During the meeting, Labieniec highlighted Continuum’s past success in providing crisis management services, especially their average 14-day length of stay.

“We’re always working with individuals to establish what their needs are,” Labieniec said. “Part of our guidelines and our intakes always talks about discharge planning.”

The site, referred to as “Haven to Home” by James Farrales, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Continuum of Care, will contain its own clinics with curated mental health support and will allow clients to be seen “right away.”

Farrales also added that the hotel model is better suited for those who do not do well or feel comfortable in the mainstream shelter system, like queer populations and families who would otherwise be separated because of gender segregation at most shelters.

Farrales went on to explain that the community will save money by investing in housing programs, commenting that the cost of housing 10 unhoused people for six months compared to the cost of allowing 10 people to be homeless would save $600,000 in the same timeframe.

“The goal is really to identify the appropriate level of care so that the person is successful,” Farrales.

Continuum operates 55 group homes throughout Connecticut.

Correction, Oct. 25: This article has been updated with the site’s correct name, Haven to Home.