In the nearly eight months Christiana Anderson has been staying at a New London shelter, there were a few times she thought she’d found an apartment for herself and her teenage son.
But each time, the option fell through.
Anderson lost her housing in January, after her son had behavioral problems and the family members she was staying with decided they didn’t want them there anymore. “I was shaky. I was just thinking of how this could have happened to me,” she said of the day she lost her place to live.
Anderson is one of many people experiencing homelessness who are spending months looking for a new place to live in Connecticut, faced with high rent costs and a dearth of housing they can afford.
Statewide the average number of days for an emergency shelter stay was 84 or 85 days between October 2020 and September 2022. That number dropped to 77 days from October 2022 to June 2023.
But providers say in more recent months, they’re seeing more people struggling for longer to find a home. Many said the goal is to get someone into housing within 30 days of entering a shelter — quicker shifts to housing have been shown to be cost-effective, better for the community and result in good outcomes for the unhoused population.
But heightened rent prices and a low apartment vacancy rate in Connecticut have made it difficult for many people experiencing homelessness to find a place they can afford.
“Homelessness right now is a housing issue,” said Kellyann Day, chief executive officer at New Haven-based New Reach. “It is strictly an issue of housing. There are people of course who struggle with other barriers but they would normally be able to find some sort of supportive housing.”
Lack of affordable housing causing longer shelter stays for homeless, CT advocates say, Ginny Monk, CT Mirror, September 5, 2023, available here