Last night, the Connecticut General Assembly’s Appropriations Committee held a hearing as they consider the Governor’s proposed budget for the next two fiscal years. I was grateful to have the opportunity to offer some general comments on the proposed allocations to homelessness services. You can watch my 3-minute oral testimony below. The even shorter version is: It’s simply not enough.
DESK works closely with partners locally through the Greater New Haven Regional Alliance to End Homelessness and across the state through Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness. Through these groups, we signed onto a legislative agenda that focused on four important areas to Rescue the Homeless Response System:
- Fund the Frontlines: We want frontline workers to be paid at least a living wage; this means that the wages paid by state contracts need to keep up with inflation and the increased costs of living in our state.
- CAN Infrastructure: Over the last ten years, providers in Connecticut have been working very hard to build a system that can get people into shelter and housing (and out of homelessness!) as quickly as possible . . . but it’s crippled by a lack of resources. If we want something to work as intended, we need to be willing to pay for it.
- Cold Weather Funding: Seasonal overflow shelters, warming center, increased outreach efforts . . . none of these life-saving emergency-response efforts each winter are paid for. We cobble together services each winter without any assurances each winter. We need the state to commit to funding cold weather services every year.
- Flexible Spending: There’s no straight path or one-size-fits-all strategy to getting out of homelessness. A pot of flexible spending will enable people to avoid eviction, cover a security deposit, or pay for moving costs.
I unpacked all this further in my written testimony, in the hopes that legislators will take these recommendations under consideration in their response to the Governor’s proposed budget.