The Town of Southbury is pursuing the distinction of being a Sustainable CT town. A newly added component for 2021 centers on increasing the public’s awareness and supporting efforts to end homelessness.
Working to achieve this objective involves partnering with the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness [CCEH] and the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities [CCM].
Why is this necessary? Per data from CCEH, Connecticut has the 6th highest housing cost in the nation. Many low-income households hover on the brink of homelessness. More than 4,500 people are homeless on any given night in Connecticut– nearly 1 in 5 are children. Connecticut’s emergency shelters are full beyond capacity, and yet many people experiencing homelessness must live on the streets or in places not fit for habitation. Homelessness is expensive: it costs our public systems (emergency services, hospitals, and schools) more to leave our neighbors homeless than it does to help them secure housing and provide them the supports to keep it.
Is this a problem in a town like Southbury? You may be surprised to learn that there are families right here who are just a paycheck or social security check away from being homeless. The 2020 ALICE1 report, (an acronym for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) reveals that more than one-third of Connecticut households (including 28% in Southbury2) are without any financial cushion and do not have enough income to cover current and unexpected expenses. This vulnerability means that an unforeseen emergency (illness, car/home repairs, etc.) or a change in income can send an ALICE household spiraling into poverty.
What can be done to help? Knowing who and where the emergency shelter providers, transitional housing providers, community and business leaders, and strategic partners are who share the goal of ending homelessness. Partnering with other communities throughout the state, and groups like CCEH, to help provide leadership, community organizing, advocacy, research, and education.
Resources available in Connecticut to combat homelessness can be found on the Southbury municipal website: www.southbury-ct.org/Homelessness.
For info on the town’s efforts toward accreditation visit: www.southbury-ct.org/sustainableCT.
For information on the state program Sustainable CT visit www.sustainablect.org.
Economic Development Director
Town of Southbury
[This article first appeared in Southbury Neighbors magazine.]