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Housing Program Strives To End Chronic Homlessness

A housing program hopes to end chronic homelessness by 2016.

There are a variety of factors that contribute to homelessness: poverty, a lack of public assistance, no access to healthcare and struggling with addictive disorders. For David Prettyman, it was his mental illness.

He says it was tough for him and his mother, who was committed to caring for other family members.

“Things were tough on her. I was tough on her — always having to take care of me and support me. Most parents quit taking care of their kids at 18. My mom was taking care of me years after that,” said Prettyman.

Prettyman wound up on the street for a short while, and without medication for his attention-deficit disorder. He found the help he needed in Star of Hope.

Star of Hope is the faith-based family of ministries established in 1907, which helps almost 1200 homeless men, women and children every day. It offers structured recovery programs that focus on education, employment, recovery from substance abuse, life skills and spiritual growth.

Erica Wise is director of Extended Services.

“We had a very quick success with our single women, and very soon after we started that, we heard from staff at our Men’s Development Center saying, we need to do something for these guys too,” said Wise.

The mayor’s plan to end chronic homelessness in two years is aided by an initiative called “Housing First.” The New Haven program has helped more than 100 men and women find homes. Wise says the program has staffers that help clients regain their independence.

“The housing piece is a huge portion of it, it’s called Permanent Supportive Housing. And so, that apartment in signing that lease, gives a dignity that many of our folks have never had before,” said Wise. “We kind of help the whole individual — mind, body and spirit — become a part of the community in a way that they’ve never been before.”

In addition to housing, other services include therapy, case management, and transportation to help them find employment.

David Prettyman says New Haven’s program has allowed him to open doors to independence.

“I feel that if you want it, whatever it is, you owe it to yourself to go get it,” said Prettyman. The door’s always open, but you have to walk through that door.”

Currently, the New Haven program is helping over a hundred men and women mend their lives.

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