The Women and Families Center (WFC) recently received $500,000 to combat youth homelessness in Meriden and Central Connecticut.
Tom Dorsey, Manager of Governmental Affairs for Eversource, presented the check to Wayne Valaitis, Chief Executive Officer of WFC.
The contribution will be used for WFC’s WYSH House project, a mixed-use development that will include commercial space on street level for WFC’s youth programs, and 12 apartments designated to house and serve homeless youth on the second and third floors. All units will be affordable, and residents will have access to case management services, shared community space, a computer lab, and laundry facilities. Construction is anticipated to be underway early in 2020.
The $500,000 contribution from Eversource was made possible through the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority (CHFA) under the Housing Tax Credit Contribution (HTCC) Program.
CHFA allocates up to $10 million annually in state tax credits under the HTCC program to nonprofits developing affordable housing in Connecticut. Private businesses may purchase the tax credits and apply them to their corporate taxes. Eversource is the largest contributor to the program, purchasing $9.5 million of the $10 million in tax credits allocated this year.
WFC received funding for WYSH House through the Housing Innovations NOFA issued by the CT Department of Housing (DOH). This funding is a pilot program that provides capital, operating, and service funding for each project serving homeless youth. WFC received $3.5 million from DOH for the $4.6 million project. Additionally, WFC has secured a permanent loan of $600,000 from the Corporation for Supportive Housing. The Eversource contribution of $500,000 will fill the gap necessary for construction.
The WYSH House project addresses the unmet need of youth experiencing homelessness in the state of Connecticut. According to a Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness report from the 2018 Youth Outreach and Count, an estimated 5,054 youth under age 25 reported being homeless or unstably housed in Connecticut on the night of Jan. 23.
WFC’s WYSH House is a component of its Project REACH program. Project REACH (Reaching Every Adolescent to Create Hope) provides services that empower youth ages 18 to 24 to make choices in the best interest of their safety, well-being and future selves through intervention, education, case management, supportive counseling and referral services.
Project REACH’s Robyn’s House provides short term housing to homeless and unstably housed youth ages 18-22. Average length of stay is 18 months. Project REACH staff provides case management to young adult residents of Robyn’s House, including assessments; individual, group and family short-term supportive counseling; referrals and service linkages; exit planning, including referral and linkage to independent housing and supports; educational support; service learning and recreational opportunities; and aftercare as young adults move from homelessness to a more independent, safe and stable environment.
With the addition of WYSH House, WFC will be able to provide non-time limited supportive housing and prevention services to youth and young adults, ages 18-24, that have experienced homelessness.
Established in 1889, the WFC has provided high quality programming to our communities, including Meriden, Middlesex County, Wallingford, Cheshire and Greater New Haven, for more than 100 years. WFC provides outreach and services for youth experiencing homelessness; enriched after school programming; vocational training and job placement; and crisis intervention and counseling services for sexual assault victims, including operating the 24-hour sexual assault hotline for South Central Connecticut.