homelessness

Homelessness in Greater Hartford: Meet Sal Pinna

Feb 20, 2015
Susan Campbell / WNPR

Salvatore Pinna, 52, grew up on Long Island and came to Connecticut 20 years ago. In official parlance, Pinna is chronically homeless, which is how the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development describes someone who has been homeless for a year or more, or who has had at least four incidences of homelessness in three years, and has a disability. 

Pinna more than fits the description. He has effectively been homeless since he came to Connecticut in the '90s. Some of that time he spent living on the streets and sleeping under bridges. 

Chion Wolf

Salvatore Pinna moved to Connecticut 20 years ago. The 52-year-old has been living on the streets and under bridges since he moved here. He's one of many chronically homeless people in the state.

This hour, we meet Sal and hear the first of a series of stories about homelessness in Greater Hartford, where the 100-Day Challenge is about to begin, an initiative to try to to eliminate barriers and connect stakeholders -- to create a plan to end chronic homelessness -- in 100 days.

kidscounsel.org

Starting Wednesday, legal advocates will be driving around Hartford to connect with homeless youth. The Center for Children's Advocacy has purchased a van to create a mobile legal aid office.

D.C.'s new mayor Muriel E. Bowser surprised advocates for the homeless in the district when she filed an emergency motion late Thursday, hoping to end a mandatory demand to provide all homeless families a private room when temperatures drop below freezing.

Heather Brandon / WNPR

Before this winter storm, the state activated its severe cold weather protocol. It’s an effort to make sure no resident is without shelter during a weather emergency.

Aundreá Murray

State officials gathered at the capital city on Wednesday to announce a new initiative aimed at ending homelessness among veterans and the disabled within the next two years.

The mayor of Springfield is calling on the administration of Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker to end a practice by the past administration of placing homeless families in congregate housing.

An angry Mayor Domenic Sarno said de-facto group homes for homeless families have been created in apartment buildings concentrated in a handful of city neighborhoods since last fall with city inspectors finding in some cases 3-4 families living in a single apartment.

" This is absolute BS," said Sarno at a city hall news conference.

State of Connecticut

The Connecticut Veterans' Home in Rocky Hill includes a nursing home and a domiciliary that gives shelter and food to many veterans who were formerly homeless. A recent study of the facility points to a need for dramatic improvements. 

Chion Wolf

There's 13 months to go in the federal VA's five year plan to end veteran homelessness.

VA staff and community partners in Connecticut met this week at a summit to discuss how they plan to reach the goal by the end of 2015.

Heather Brandon / WNPR

Governor Dannel Malloy has told New Britain officials he'll do what he can to help the city find money for an emergency winter shelter for the homeless. But soon after the meeting Thursday, he said the city would likely have to rely on a "cobbled together" plan for funding. 

Few people know about the lives of homeless people.

So, in honor of his late uncle who battled schizophrenia and was homeless on and off for 30 years, Kevin Adler started the Homeless GoPro Project to capture the stories of 100 homeless people across the country.

Adler tells Here & Nows Robin Young how technology and connections with homeless service providers can help dispel myths the general public have about homeless people.

Cities are increasingly getting tough on food distribution programs for the homeless. According to the Sun Sentinel, a 90-year-old activist and two pastors from two churches in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., were arrested at a park on Sunday and then again on Wednesday for doing what they've been doing there for years: serving meals to the homeless.

Marc Brüneke / Creative Commons

A report released by the National Coalition for the Homeless last month shows a growing number of U.S. cities are making it illegal to hand out food to the homeless. Since January 2013, 21 cities have passed legislation restricting food distribution. 

If you don't have a place to live, getting enough to eat clearly may be a struggle. And since homelessness in the U.S. isn't going away and is even rising in some cities, more charitable groups and individuals have been stepping up the past few years to share food with these vulnerable folks in their communities.

But just as more people reach out to help, cities are biting back at those hands feeding the homeless.

stewartfornb.com

New Britain's mayor is looking for space to serve as an emergency homeless shelter this winter. 

The Herald of New Britain reports that Mayor Erin Stewart is asking that a local property owner step forward and donate a building. 

Lucy Nalpathanchil / WNPR

The state Veterans' Home sits on a sprawling campus in Rocky Hill but most of the buildings were built more than 70 years ago. In August, Governor Dannel Malloy asked for the creation of an advisory group to examine how the property--which offers several types of residential care-- can be transformed to serve more veterans.

Salvation Army

The city of Hartford recently cut $100,000 from a homeless shelter as part of its effort to keep taxes down and avoid layoffs. Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra said he's still hoping find money to undo the cut. 

Ray Hardman / WNPR

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal hosted a roundtable discussion Monday on the issue of youth homelessness in Connecticut.

Tammy Strobel / Flickr Creative Commons

I live in a small house on a street of big houses. And when I say big, some of the houses on my street are 7,000 and 8,000 square feet. A big house signifies an important person, right? The governor lives in a mansion. The Archbishop of Hartford lives down the street from him in a house that's even bigger.

On Wednesday, Rashema Melson will graduate at the top of her class as the valedictorian of Anacostia High School in Washington, D.C. She's headed to Georgetown University this fall on a full scholarship.

I was fighting a rat for the remnants of a corn dog I'd salvaged from the trash. That's when I realized I'd crossed the final line I had drawn.

I had told myself, as long as I don't shoot up, I'm OK. As long as I'm not homeless, I'm OK. But now I was shooting up and homeless, and there was nowhere left to draw. I had reached the bottom line of my existence.

Aaron didn't intend to tell his classmates that he was homeless. But when he recorded his own story with StoryCorpsU — a project designed to help kids in high-needs schools build stronger relationships with their teachers — he says, it just came out.

"I felt ... like a big load was let off," Aaron explains. (NPR has withheld Aaron's last name, at the request of his foster care agency, to protect his privacy.) "I don't know what made me say it, but I'm like, 'Let me just be honest and just get it out.' "

Rosie O'Beirne / Creative Commons

With single digit temperatures and below-zero wind chills in the forecast for Monday night and Tuesday, Governor Malloy has enacted the state's severe weather protocol, which coordinates homeless shelters and various state agencies though the state's 211 information and referral line. 

Chion Wolf

“Invisible” is often a term used for homeless youth who fall through the cracks, who lack support and resources. Often, these young people are from minority groups, or are LGBT. Many come out of the foster or juvenile justice system. Fifty percent of them do not have a high school diploma. 

It’s a sad story, and one that is hard to quantify, because there are few hard numbers on how many young people are on the streets. 

Susan Campbell

Frequent WNPR guest and former Hartford Courant columnist Susan Campbell rode along with the Hartford Homeless Outreach Team early on Thursday morning. She works for Partnership for Strong Communities, which is working to end homelessness.

frankiefotografie/iStock / Thinkstock

A study released this month explores homelessness among youths in Connecticut. The report, called “Invisible No More,” was co-authored by two researchers, Derrick Gordon and Bronwyn Hunter, of The Consultation Center at Yale University School of Medicine. They found that homeless youths are a virtually invisible population in the state, often not connected to services that could help steer them away from the risks of poverty, crime, and addiction. 

Susan Campbell

The Hartford Homeless Outreach Team heads out every Thursday to check-in on Hartford's homeless population and hand out lunches. They go out early before the homeless leave their makeshift abodes for the day.

davco9200, creative commons

Flickr Creative Commons, vixjohnson

"Street newspapers" are designed, written and sold by the homeless. They are small, usually no more than a few pages, and feature articles, photographs and poetry about what it's like to live in shelters or on the street. They're easy to find in cities like Portland, Oregon or Providence and as WNPR's Patrick Skahill reports, now Hartford has its own street newspaper.

Chion Wolf, WNPR

Recent reports show a 3% increase of people in shelters in Connecticut from 2009 to 2010. Of this population, more than half of all families and 40% of single adults in shelters report being homeless for first time  And in these harsh winter months, even overflow homeless shelters are overflowing.