Recommendations To Improve Affordable Housing Efforts in Connecticut 

Mark J. Nolan, Chair, Danbury Housing Partnership 

Since returning from the National Forum on Ending Veterans Homelessness co-hosted by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), I have had the opportunity to discuss the information and recommendations shared at the forum with our local partners and community representatives.  This presents Danbury and Connecticut with an opportunity to learn about and implement successful strategies to address homelessness and affordable housing employed not just at the Federal level but by States and local communities throughout the country.

Based on my experiences at the National Forum and discussions with community representatives, I will be making a request to the Danbury Housing Partnership to authorize me to forward a recommendation to incoming Governor Dannel Malloy to re-establish and re-invigorate the State Interagency Council on Homelessness to provide Connecticut with the same degree of cooperation and collaboration on the part of State departments currently being implemented on the Federal level.  The State Interagency Council can not only insure that affordable housing and homelessness receive the priority required on the State level, but can also serve as the lead entity for coordination with housing efforts being implemented by Connecticut communities implementing Ten-Year Plans to End Homelessness.

A robust State Interagency Council is needed to support and implement the following recommended State initiatives:

1.     Invest State funding and resources in affordable housing initiatives as part of a coordinated State economic recovery and growth strategy.   Investment in housing, even in difficult economic times, is not just the decent thing to do- it makes good economic sense.  Investment in affordable housing will bolster local economies, create good paying jobs, address social needs and ensure that Connecticut will maintain the diverse workforce needed to support economic expansion.  Coordination of effort by the State Interagency Council will ensure that scarce State funding will be effectively invested and reduce the possibility of duplication of services that can occur when agencies compete rather than cooperate.

2.     Ensure that a proportion of funds invested in affordable housing goes to supportive housing efforts as recommended by the best-practices studies undertaken by the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH).  Supportive housing programs, which combine affordable housing with needed services for clients, have been found to not only be most effective for addressing the needs of homeless persons, but also to be most cost-effective for States and municipalities.  Well-run supportive housing programs break the inefficient “revolving door cycle” of individuals’ excessive utilization of costly emergency care that places an unnecessary financial burden on local communities and taxpayers.

3.     Ensure that there is effective communication and coordination between local communities and the State with respect to efforts to address homelessness and provide affordable housing.  The State Council could be a great resource for ensuring that local efforts are supported, for reducing duplication of efforts and for disseminating current information on the extent of homelessness and effective strategies employing best practice models.

At a time when local and State resources are limited and taxpayers strained to the max, it makes sense to do all that we can to ensure that State and local efforts to address urgent social and economic needs are coordinated and implemented in the most effective and cost-effective manner.  

To learn more about the Danbury Housing Partnership and our efforts to address the issues of homelessness and affordable housing please visit our website at www.danburyhousingpartnership.org.  I also invite you to volunteer to join us in this community-wide effort to strengthen the Danbury region through the provision of affordable housing, workforce housing and senior housing for area residents.

For more information, please contact Chairman Mark J. Nolan at 203-797-8255.  

Please click on the link to see Chairman Nolan's Comments on the National Forum To End Veterans Homelessness.