On any given day in New Haven, 700 people are homeless, many more are on the edge of losing their homes, and even more struggle to adequately and healthfully feed themselves and their families. These New Haven citizens are people of all ages; men, women and children; veterans; families; and people of all ethnic and educational backgrounds.
Hunger and homelessness are complex issues that stem from a variety of causes. Some homeless individuals struggle with mental illness, drug addiction, HIV/AIDS or other serious health conditions. Many others have been in prison and continue to face the collateral consequences of their conviction. Still others are just refugees of the economic crisis; the most direct cause of homelessness is a lack of employment or income.
Homelessness in New Haven is a life or death issue. Without a stable place to live, homeless people seek refuge in the few places where society will allow them to stay. Some find temporary spots in the houses of friends or family, and others find places to live outside – regardless of the weather. Many struggle with their problems alone, undiagnosed, untreated and unsupported.
In order to become self-sustaining, this population needs supportive services to help find affordable housing, a steady income, mental health treatment, general medical care, substance abuse treatment, and vocational training.
Hunger and homelessness are not problems unique to New Haven; however, New Haven provides the largest number of social services in its region and therefore is a destination of those in need. New Haven is also the drop-off point for releases from several local correctional facilities, and many of these individuals lack the means to leave the city. For these reasons, New Haven carries a disproportionate share of the burden for the progressive services that it provides as compared to its more affluent suburban neighbors, despite the fact that a large number of New Haven’s homeless population were once residents of the nearby suburbs.
New Haven is fortunate to have a community of dedicated service providers and public officials who are constantly working to solve hunger and homelessness problems, and we are proud to count many of these individuals among our advisers. YHHAP continues to combat homelessness on a variety of levels: by providing direct services in soup kitchens, drop-in centers and prisons; by lobbying for the most effective shelter options, for more supportive housing, and for other legal issues; by helping homeless individuals find their way into stable homes and employment; and by fighting to make hunger and homelessness recognized as regional issues.