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Rep. Rosa DeLauro Announces $1.4 million in Funding for DESK!

Rep. Rosa DeLauro Announces $1.4 million in Funding for DESK!

Yesterday was a special day for DESK as one of our strongest advocates stopped by our Drop-in & Resource Center for a very special occasion. In the final days of 2022, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro secured over $1.4 million for renovations to DESK’s Drop-in & Resource Center.

This announcement marks a huge milestone for DESK, Cornell Scott – Hill Health Center, and the people we serve. The renovations to 266 State Street include a medical clinic staffed by Hill Health’s Homeless Healthcare Department, providing low barrier access to critical medical services for unhoused individuals, as well as a new commercial kitchen to prepare the fresh and nutritious meals that feed more than 150 people nightly. 

DESK’s Executive Director, Steve Werlin, and Congresswoman DeLauro described the finished facility as “a front door” for key services needed by people experiencing homelessness in our community.

“We’re going to continue to do what we’ve always done: provide basic needs,” said Werlin. “We’re [also] going to have next-level and specialized services offered on site … We will encourage and welcome and affirm all individuals, regardless of whatever hardships they’re bringing into the space when they come.” 

Watch the full press conference here, and learn more about how two community institutions are working together to help people move beyond homelessness. WATCH NOW!

You can also find media coverage of this announcement through the New Haven Independent, New Haven Register, and Yale Daily News.

NHR & NHI on U-ACT & Tent City

NHR & NHI on U-ACT & Tent City

Unhoused people were in the local news this week in two separates articles.

Yesterday, Mark Zaretsky wrote in the New Haven Register about U-ACT (the Unhoused Activists Community Team).  U-ACT is an advocacy group composed primarily of people with lived experience.  The group meets in DESK’s Drop-in Center every Wednesday at 11:00 am, in meetings facilitated by Billy Bromage of the Yale/CMHC Program on Recovery & Community Health (PRCH), along with DESK’s own Program Manager, Evan Serio, who is doing their MSW internship with PRCH.  Read the full article to learn about the experiences of Tyrell Jackson and Keith Petrulis, U-ACT’s advocacy demands to the City, and the work they’re doing behind-the-scenes.

Today, Nora Grace-Flood wrote in the New Haven Independent about “Tent City,” an encampment along the West River that has grown in recent years to about 30 people.  The piece focuses on the experiences of Nestor, who immigrated from Columbia, as well as some of the community organizers and volunteers who have been helping people here, and the City’s response to this encampment specifically and the homelessness crisis in New Haven more generally.  Read the full article to get a sense of the struggles faced by the residents of this encampment.

Got some thoughts on either of these pieces?  Share your comments below!

The Homelessness & Mental Health Crisis in NYC

The Homelessness & Mental Health Crisis in NYC

This is a very well-done, bite-sized piece on the mental health and homelessness crisis facing New York right now, and on the controversy surrounding Mayor Eric Adams’ call to expand involuntary hospitalization:

NYC’s mayor faces backlash for planning to involuntarily hospitalize homeless people
Jasmine Garsd and Steve Inskeep
NPR Morning Edition, 1/3/22

Key take-aways:

  • Mental health crises and homelessness have become more visible on the streets of NYC over the last three years
  • NYC’s Coalition for the Homeless believes that Mayor Adams’ proposal will lead to people being “swept up” when they do not need this level of treatment by those without adequate training.
  • Rumor has it that NYPD is very uneasy with the proposed expansion, as they do not feel well-trained to take on this kind of responsibility.
  • All of this is moot, since there aren’t enough beds for either shelter or in-patient mental health programs.
  • A perspective from an unhoused individual resting in Penn Station: We need housing, first and foremost.
  • Mayor Adams is finding himself at the difficult intersection of the need to fix the problem by creating more housing and manage the problem by addressing the acute need on the streets.

New Haven’s situation is analogous: an increase in homelessness driven by a lack of deeply affordable housing and insufficient, street-level mental health services.  Two critical aspects that were not included in this piece, and which affect both NYC and New Haven, is the co-occurring addiction and opioid crises, and the increase in evictions as a result of the higher rents caused by the housing shortage.

DESK Receives $1.4 million in Federal Appropriations Funding

DESK Receives $1.4 million in Federal Appropriations Funding

Thanks to the efforts of our incredible representative, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, DESK will receive more than $1.4 million in federal appropriations funding to support the renovations of our Drop-in & Resource Center at 266 State Street in Downtown New Haven.  With yesterday’s passing of the 2023 federal spending bill in Congress, the funding is all but assured, pending the President Biden’s signature.  From the press release:

“Through the Community Project Funding program, our agency will be able to quickly complete the renovations of our new Drop-in & Resource Center for people experiencing unsheltered homelessness, including the outfitting of a full medical clinic to serve unhoused individuals specifically,” said Steve Werlin, Executive Director of Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen in New Haven. “With more than 250 people living on the streets of our city, this new facility will provide immediate, lifesaving services alongside next-level services that will help people move beyond homelessness and toward overall stabilization and improved personal wellbeing, while alleviating a variety of public health concerns and freeing space in local emergency departments.  As a result, it’s an important benefit for the individuals we serve, as well as a major cost saver for the broader community.”

Merry Christmas, indeed! 🎁

Read the full press release here: