Murphy: “I’m really glad to announce that we have 50 more vouchers, which will allow us to go and do outreach to 50 more veterans who we need to bring off the streets and into housing”

HARTFORD – U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) on Friday celebrated 50 new vouchers totaling $470,893 through the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program (HUD-VASH) for the Connecticut Department of Housing and for the housing authorities in Hartford, West Haven, and Norwalk. These vouchers will be used to help 50 homeless veterans find affordable housing through the HUD-VASH program. Murphy was joined by Connecticut Department of Housing Director of Individual and Family Support Programs Steve DiLella, Connecticut State Senator Mae Flexer, and Acting Hartford Housing Director Kiley Gosselin.

Addressing homelessness among veterans has been a major priority of Murphy’s since he served in the U.S. House of Representatives. After hearing of veterans living in the woods in Waterbury in 2008, Murphy assembled a working group of veterans, as well as federal, state, and local officials and immediately began working to secure more HUD-VASH vouchers for the state. As a result of his work with the VA’s Director of Homeless Veterans Programs, Murphy was able to increase the number of vouchers Connecticut received by 35.

Murphy’s opening remarks are available below:

MURPHY: I have the honor of representing Connecticut in the United States Senate, and I’m very excited to be joined here today by State Senator Flexer who is the co-chair of the Veterans Committee, Steve DiLella, who is director of Individual and Family Support Programs at the Connecticut Department of Housing, and Kiley Gosselin, who is the acting director at the Hartford Housing Authority. We are here today to talk about a new federal grant to continue Connecticut’s work to end chronic homelessness for veterans.

I, for a long time have been a big proponent of a program called the HUD-VASH program, the HUD-VASH program is a highly successful program where the federal government helps give vouchers to homeless veterans to get housed. Connecticut has received substantial numbers of HUD-VASH vouchers over the past ten years, and that has been a big part of our success story becoming one of the first states to effectively end chronic veterans homelessness. At one time in this state we had up to a thousand veterans who were living out on the streets, that is unacceptable and it is a fact of Connecticut’s past now because we can actively get veterans who become homeless off the streets and in housing.

These new vouchers, a total of 50, are going to Norwalk, to Hartford, to West Haven and to the Connecticut Department of Housing. They will be spread all over the state wherever veterans need them and they will help continue our commitment to make sure no veteran in this state becomes homeless. I’ve often talked about a young women that I met when I first got to the United States Congress. I met a women by the name Shellyann Burke in Waterbury, Connecticut. Shellyann is a true hero, she had fought for the United States in Iraq, she had done some of the most dangerous duty you can do in Iraq. She was a convoy driver at a time when there are IEDs littered all over the roadways of Iraq.  She put her life on the line every single day.  The stakes were really high for her because she had a daughter back home.  She had a little daughter back in the U.S. that she was waiting to get back to. But when she came back to the U.S., as many veterans do, she had PTSD.  She had experienced a level of stress in Iraq that her body was having a hard time dealing with.  And, because of that stress, she got sick, she couldn’t hold down a job, and she became homeless with her little 8-year-old daughter.  They were living out of their car for a substantial period of time before the Connecticut Department of Veterans and the Federal Department of Veterans found her, she found them. She got a HUD-VASH voucher to put herself and her daughter in an apartment that helped her get treatment for her PTSD and that helped her get a job.  I visited her in her house and saw that she was on the road to success but only because of this program whereby we take veterans off of the streets, out of their cars, and put them into homes.  

Every year we fight really hard for more vouchers here in Connecticut, and I’m really glad to announce that we have 50 more vouchers, which will allow us to go and do outreach to 50 more veterans who we need to bring off the streets and into housing.  The fact of the matter is it is unconscionable for this country to let veterans who’ve put their life on the line for this country become homeless; and to become homeless for a substantial period of time is even more unconscionable.  We know that veterans will sometimes hit hard times.  They will often find themselves outside in the streets, but these vouchers allow us to find those veterans quickly, and get them into safe places quickly, and I’m really glad that we are going to deliver another 50 of these vouchers to Connecticut.

Click here to view video of Murphy’s remarks.