Danbury War Memorial to be used as homeless shelter
DANBURY — Homeless individuals will stay at the Danbury War Memorial as officials try to get some clients into hotels amid the coronavirus outbreak.
The city’s shelter on New Street is housing a few homeless individuals who may have been exposed to the virus, while other shelters have closed due to space and volunteer shortages.
The city had planned to house the homeless in a dorm at Western Connecticut State University, but the state nixed the idea hours before guests were set to move in.
Now, Mayor Mark Boughton aims to use the war memorial for the “foreseeable future,” with the hope that the state will make vouchers available for some clients to stay in hotels.
“We’re still working through that,” he said. “That’s going to be a while.”
Three people were given vouchers on Monday because of a bed shortage, Boughton has said.
Across Connecticut, funding has been provided to place 200 elderly homeless individuals in 100 hotel rooms, the state housing department has said. The goal is to get those who are over 60—and thus at higher risk for the virus— out of shelters and into hotels.
The department also allocated $735,000 to get people into permanent housing.
The homeless are considered to be at greater risk for the virus because they sleep in close quarters and may already have health problems, experts have said.
Boughton hopes the state can provide staffing, too, but has not gotten word on if or when this would happen. The city had been struggling to man its shelter because of the virus, but recently hired four people directed to the city through various non-profits, he said.
“We’re getting it covered, but we’re continuing to onboard people until we’ve got enough staff,” Boughton said.
Homeless individuals have been staying at the war memorial since Tuesday night. About 50 people stayed there Wednesday night, Boughton said.
“It goes up some nights, it goes down,” he said. “A lot of it is weather dependent.”
Dorothy Day Hospitality House, a 16-bed non-profit shelter that closed temporarily largely because of space restrictions, moved its grab-and-go meals to the war memorial on Wednesday evening, according to its website.
The Community Care Team, a network of agencies and nonprofit providers that assists the homeless, has continued to work with the population as much as it can, Boughton said.
“They’re doing the best they can under this recent crisis,” he said.
Clients have been understanding of the upheaval, Boughton said.
“Facing those personal challenges in their life is hard enough as it is,” he said. “On top of that, having to be shuttled from facility to facility can be upsetting and difficult. They’ve been very cooperative and very helpful”