Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Homeless counts in Middlesex County
Tonight the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness will conduct their annual counts of homeless people in Middlesex County, focusing on Middletown, Cromwell, and Old Saybrook. This is a "point in time" count, to determine on a single night how many people are homeless. An intensive effort to canvass at one time all possible places where the homeless might be is likely to give the most accurate estimate of the number of homeless, as it avoids selective surveying and possible double counting. Similar methodology is often used by biologists to determine animal populations.
Last year's count found 28 families and 197 single adults homeless in Middlesex County. This represents about 7% of the state's homeless population (in comparison Hartford had 23%, New Haven 19%, and Stamford/Grenwich 8%). Middlesex County stood out however, in having a much higher proportion of homeless spending the night outside of shelters. Our county had 85 households unsheltered (14% of the state's unsheltered population, compared to Hartford's 19 households unsheltered (3% of the state's population). Hartford's sheltered homeless population was far greater than Middlesex County's: 773 households in Hartford (27% of the state's population), versus 140 households in Middlesex (5%).
These Point in Time counts are extremely labor intensive, as large regions must be thoroughly canvassed the same night. The CCEH also collects information from the homeless at the same time, using a long survey that asks about income, race, last place of residents, eduction, military service, health, etc. The full reports for the 2007 and 2008 Point in Time counts are available.
Anybody interested in volunteering to help with the 2009 Point in Time Count for Middletown should meet at 6PM at The Connection Inc. Supportive Housing for Families' office, first floor at 282 Main St. Ext. in Middletown. All help will surely be appreciated.
In Middletown, Mayor Sebastian Giuliano was part of a team lead by Lydia Brewster, who helped found NEAT, and now works for the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness. The team, which included two volunteers, and which was tailed by two reporters, and a TV crew from Channel 61, combed the North End in the Bridge and Miller Street neighborhoods looking for homeless individuals.
On a night when the weather indicated that many homeless had found shelter, or had hunkered down in covered shelter, the team did not identify any homeless in the first hour of its survey.