The challenges of family homelessness are very complex. The cost of housing in Fairfield County is a major contributor to family homelessness, ranking as one of the most expensive housing markets in the nation. In the Stamford and Norwalk area, a household needs to earn up to $30.00 an hour to afford the rent of a typical 2-bedroom unit.
Other reasons why families become homeless include loss of employment, childcare costs, domestic violence, health crisis, or other events that cause economic instability. Many heads of household have little education and/or insufficient work history. Undiagnosed mental health issues are another major obstacle for families in obtaining stable employment.
SHW is committed to ending family homelessness by 2020 by building a strong homeless response system. The focus is on getting families housed as quickly as possible into permanent housing and ensuring they have access to services and employment that enable them to remain housed and become self-sufficient. SHW is promoting progressive engagement in the region’s housing programs to ensure people have the right amount of rental assistance and services to be stably housed. As an active partner in Secure Jobs, SHW works with Career Resources to promote employment opportunities for families in the Rapid Rehousing Program.
Youth homelessness refers to an individual 12-24 years of age who is living on their own, without a parent or guardian and lacks a stable or permanent address. Transition-aged youth (TAY) 18 to 24 years old, are one of the fastest growing homeless populations and require unique housing and services because they are still developing as young adults and need support until they are able to support themselves, gain life experience and transition to adulthood. The factors impacting youth homelessness are complex and differ from those impacting other homeless populations. Homeless youth flee conflict, abuse, neglect, or increasing poverty in their homes.
SHW has outlined strategies based on national best practices to prevent and end youth homelessness engaging partners through the provider and youth community who are committed to doing the necessary work. The focus is on scaling up a youth appropriate service delivery system so young people have access to the support they need to grow and develop into adulthood. Through SHW efforts, ODFC is making great progress toward this goal, leading the state in collaboration, system change and effectively meeting the needs of homeless youth and young adults.