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Fighting to End Homelessness in Stamford, Greenwich
Local shelters participate in national movement
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Stamford, CT | Added on June 11, 2014 At 04:44 PM

In one of the wealthiest areas of the country, many are struggling out on the streets.  Homelessness has increased in the Stamford-Greenwich area by 43 percent within the last two years.  

"It's also one of the greatest spreads of income, from the rich and the poor to the homeless, of anywhere in the country," said Stamford Mayor David Martin.  

Last year, Stamford's Shelter for the Homeless saw over 500 clients.  With 82 beds, some temporary, 65 percent of the time their capacity was exceeded.

"Homeless is in a situation of crisis," said Rafael Pagan, executive director of the Shelter for the Homeless.  "It can no longer be ignored."

Many think the answer to homelessness is employment, but shelter leaders said it's not as simple as that because many individuals they help do have jobs.  

"Most people have the impression that if you're homeless, you're not working.  A job will resolve the problem.  Well, let me enlighten you," said Pagan.  

He says in 2013, 21 percent of the shelter's population was working full time, with 44 percent working part time. 

"When you live and work in a community like Greenwich-Stamford, where the average rent for a 1 bedroom apartment is $1,200, how are you going to be able to work and afford those rents when you're making minimum wage or you're underemployed," said Pagan.  

And Wednesday, shelter leaders from Pacific House and Inspirica joined other agencies and public officials at Stamford's government center --  bringing awareness to their cause.  

During the last week of April, Supportive Housing Works and shelter volunteers conducted 168 surveys with homeless individuals and families in Greenwich and Stamford.  Volunteers scouted public places in early hours of the morning and late at night to identify these individuals and families.  

Their goal was finding the most vulnerable living on the streets, and it's part of a national movement called 100,000 Homes.

"Here is a visual of all the communities participating in the 100,000 homes campaign.  Again, its 238 communities," said Samantha Stewart, who works for Supportive Housing Works that led the local campaign effort.  

She says they discovered 48% of people had an indicator associated with increased death rate, with health risks like diabetes, cancer and HIV/AIDS.  

They're hoping to find permanent homes for those most at risk, and they know who they are.  

"We know how many they are -- 13.  We know who they are and we have an opportunity, as a community, to come together and address that and house those 13 individuals as quickly as possible," said Pagan.  

For more information about the campaign visit, http://100khomes.org/


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