Christine Stuart photo
John McKinney pictured (Christine Stuart photo)

Following in his father’s footsteps, Senate Minority Leader John McKinney of Southport said Wednesday that the state needs to invest in supportive housing initiatives to end homelessness in the state.

Before a tour of the Mary Townsend Seymour supportive housing complex in Hartford Wednesday, McKinney said this year 435 units of supportive housing units weren’t built because of a lack of commitment from the state of Connecticut. In 2008 he wants the state to fund 650 new supportive housing units, create new incentives for developers and expand the Housing Tax Credit program, which increases the set aside for supportive housing.

While many cities and towns may not want this type of housing in their backyard, “we know permanent supportive housing works,” McKinney said. He said research has shown that integrating supportive housing into mixed-income neighborhoods is the best way to help families who were once homeless get back on their feet.

He said it’s critical the state creative initiatives to develop his type of housing. “Investing in a long-term solution to move people out of homelessness and into housing stability will save the state money by helping to lower health care costs, reduce crime and improve student performance,” McKinney said in a press release.

McKinney said the state can’t wait for the federal government.

In October, McKinney went to Washington DC to testify on the reauthorization of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, co-authored by his father in 1986. During his testimony, McKinney said “While it was a tremendous first step, it was just that: a first step. We were supposed to do more.”

He told the Congressional Finance Committee that over the past 20 years homelessness has changed. “We no longer need simply to manage homelessness, we can end it,” he said.

He said Connecticut plans to end homelessness by 2014 by creating 10,000 units of supportive housing. There are currently 3,000 units of supportive housing in the state.