MERIDEN — Meriden, Wallingford and Middlesex County saw a 49-percent decrease in homelessness since 2013, and an 84-percent decrease in homeless veterans, housing officials said Friday.
“Connecticut can reclaim the mantle of leadership,” said U.S. Sen. Christopher Murphy. “Our story on ending chronic homelessness and veteran chronic homelessness is being told. What this state has done is a wonderful model.”
Murphy briefly addressed the Coalition on Housing and Homelessness for Middlesex County, Meriden and Wallingford Friday morning at the Augusta Curtis Cultural Center. Other speakers included coalition Chairman Howard Reid, Commissioner of the state Department of Housing Evonne Klein, and Sue Murphy, chairwoman of the Communications and Advocacy Committee Coalition on Housing and Homelessness.
Susan Murphy told the crowd of about 70 people that the group hopes to end youth and family homelessness.
“Government is our partner,” she said. “Without good government to create a good plan, we would never be looking at figures like this.”
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has made ending homelessness and affordable housing a priority. The state has created 11,197 units of affordable housing since 2011.
At the state level, the Fair Housing Working Group is presenting five proposals to the General Assembly aimed at developing more affordable housing statewide. DOH Commissioner Klein sits on the working group with housing advocates and private developers.
The group wants to see local zoning regulations that spur affordable housing.
“Municipalities should be identifying opportunities for higher density housing,” Klein said.
The task force also wants to see more inclusionary zoning, which sets aside affordable units in multifamily developments. Some incentives could be available through the state Department of Housing.
“It’s an important way to build market-rate and affordable housing,” Klein said.
The working group also wants to establish a task force of stakeholders to study transit-oriented development and come up with recommendations.
Initiatives before the legislature include expanding the jurisdictions of local housing authorities to partner on developments and the honoring of Section 8 vouchers across town borders.
“All of these things together will expand access to affordable housing,” Klein said. “We’re excited.”