Ending veteran homelessness in CT does not mean it is ‘abolished’
Taylor Nicole Richards – News Writer
Governor Dannel Malloy recently announced in an interview with WNPR that Connecticut is officially the second state to end veteran homelessness after Virginia. This does not mean that there are no homeless veterans here at all, but it does mean that the state has met the official criteria for ending homelessness through guidelines created by the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH).
Some of the criteria that the state has officially met is identifying all veterans experiencing homelessness, providing shelter immediately to any veteran experiencing unsheltered homelessness, the community has the capacity to assist veterans into permanent housing, and the community has resources and plans in place should any veteran become homeless in the future. Malloy along with partners in the Connecticut Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) started action a few years ago on the issue.
“We signed on in 2014 that we would end homelessness amongst veterans by the end of last year. And we did it,” Malloy said to WNPR. “We’ve committed $1 billion to get housing built, including many, many affordable units.”
Although the state has met the national criteria, it does not mean there will not be more homeless veterans in the future. It just means that community resources are readily available to get them out of homelessness in 90 days or less, according to the “Criteria and Benchmarks” outline put out by the USICH.
Eric Pang, a 23-year-old local veteran from West Haven, thinks that headlines are a little misleading and understands that this is not the complete end to this issue. He recently got his Bachelor’s Degree at Fordham University. Pang is a U.S. Marine Infantryman that was deployed to Afghanistan in 2011.
“I believe there’s still a lot more to be done,” said Pang. “This does not mean veteran homelessness is totally abolished but it is one step at a time. There’s still 90 days for the homeless veteran to find housing. So I’m not entirely satisfied.”
Emilio Flores, senior psychology major, sees this as a small victory for the state and for the veterans that Americans cherish and for the military right now. He said that he hopes other states can follow suit. Currently, only 21 cities and two full states have “put the systems in place to end veteran homelessness,” according to the HUD. Some of the cities are Las Vegas, New Orleans, Houston and Syracuse.
“I think there are different problems with different causes. I think ending other types of homelessness requires greater societal changes,” said Flores. “This is a tangible change we can make now since homeless veterans exist in smaller numbers and no one wants to see someone who has served our country on the streets. This is not the end of veteran homelessness, but this is a good, if not great start.”
Pang, although pleased to hear the news, said he thinks there are bigger issues facing the veteran community right now, like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and resources for veterans contemplating suicide.
“There is an estimated 22 veteran suicides every day,” said Pang. “Veteran suicides are becoming way too common in our small circles. I believe this issue is not well known and doesn’t get reported on as much.”
Photo Credit: Staff Photo – Southern’s Veteran’s Office Sign