by Shaunna Cullen
Photo credit: New Britain City Journal
Building Hope Together (BHT), the New Britain Work Plan to end homelessness, has been awarded a grant of $1,200 by Eversource.
BHT was established in 2008 to end homelessness in the city by connecting people with employment and housing, and other services they may require. Mary Floyd is the Work Plan Coordinator whose office is located at YWCA New Britain.
Homelessness in the city of New Britain is decreasing, meaning more people are finding permanent housing. In 2016 the Point in Time Count, which is a night where agencies across the state gather data on homelessness in their community, showed 158 homeless individuals in New Britain. Since the plan's inception New Britain has achieved the elimination of chronic homelessness (meaning that individuals who have been identified as chronically homeless are all matched with housing and support services, and systems are in place for others who may be identified to be housed quickly).
Floyd explained there are several programs she operates under the Work Plan, in addition to coordinating the plan's Employment, Housing and Prevention committees. The Bus Pass Program provides passes to people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness to get to work, school, or a training opportunity. Since 2011, 427 people have received passes. This program is funded by the Community Chest of New Britain and Berlin.
The Fresh Start program, also funded by the Community Chest of New Britain and Berlin, supplies gift cards for clients moving out of shelter or transitioning into independent housing. They can use these gift cards for basic start-up essentials for their new housing. Floyd meets with them to discuss budgeting, income and other expenses to determine if they will be able to pay rent going forward. Since the program began in July 2011, 124 people have been assisted.
The Path to Employment program pays for items that clients need to obtain or keep employment such as uniforms, work boots, driver's licenses, birth certificates and identification. From the program's beginning in January 2010 to the present, 154 people have been assisted. This program is funded by the United Way of New Britain and Berlin.
The Homelessness Prevention program prevents homelessness for those imminently at risk of losing their housing. It can assist with past due rent after determining clients have the means to remain housed after they are assisted. Floyd also confirms with the landlord to make sure information is accurate, and confirms that the tenants will be allowed to stay in the apartment after rent is received. From October 2013 to September 2016, the funds prevented homelessness for fourteen households, in addition to 252 households for which homelessness was prevented with the original Federal Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing grant.
"Building Hope Together, the New Britain Work Plan to End Homelessness, is grateful for Eversource's ongoing support of the Plan. This is an example of the type of community support that is needed for the Plan to succeed. Many thanks to Mayor Stewart for naming the Work Plan as the beneficiary of Eversource's "Home Energy Solutions" Campaign," said Floyd.
The Work Plan is a part of the Central Connecticut Coordinated Access Network or CCCAN, and is one of eight CAN's throughout the state of Connecticut that seeks systemic solutions to homelessness. The local CAN consists of Berlin, Bristol, New Britain, Plainville and Southington.
If you would like to make a donation to Building Hope Together, please click here.