Ending Family Homelessness
June 2016 - An increase in the number of homeless individuals and families in Bristol led local organizations, including Main Street Community Foundation, to band together and create the Ending Family Homelessness Task Force. The Task Force not only studies the issue of homelessness but also works to address, and ultimately, eliminate it.
The Ending Family Homelessness Task Force has worked to better understand who is homeless and why they are homeless. Homelessness is a complex issue and occurs for a number of different reasons, including evictions, condemnations, fires, criminal history and substance abuse. There are also different categories of homelessness: chronic, imminent and literal. Homeless individuals and families may be living outside, with friends or in a shelter.
The Ending Family Homelessness Task Force works to identify solutions for unsheltered persons in Bristol. Through these activities, the Task Force realized that having someone available to help homeless individuals navigate the housing systems was critical. With the support of a $30,000 grant in August 2015 from the Money in Motion Fund at the Foundation, the Task Force hired a part-time housing coordinator through the United Way of West Central Connecticut. The housing coordinator works with imminently homeless, literally homeless and chronically homeless adults and children to help them become “document ready”, navigate the ever-changing housing systems and programs, develop landlord contacts and collaborate with other agencies to develop and share a Landlord Registry, and transport and accompany clients to housing related appointments.
Furthermore, the Task Force, which was founded in 2014, was integral in establishing a warming center at Bristol Community Organization (BCO) in the winter of 2015. The warming center had over a dozen volunteers and provided a warm, safe place for about 15 residents a day. An organized inventory of winter clothing and personal hygiene items are provided as well as computers and printers to assist in job searches. The warming center has provided much needed human interaction and has also led residents to other resources they may need.
Other activities supported by the Task Force include the Point in Time Count, an annual federally-mandated count of each community’s homeless population, and Hair Cuts for the Homeless, an initiative that provides free haircuts.