Image of another tent among several within a homeless encampment next to I-84 in Hartford on Tuesday, March 20, 2021 (Doug Hardy / CTNewsJunkie)
Another tent among several within a homeless encampment next to I-84 in Hartford on Tuesday, March 20, 2021 (Doug Hardy / CTNewsJunkie)

An annual tally of people experiencing homelessness in Connecticut found 2,930 residents without a home during a single night in January, representing a 13% jump over the 2021 count after several years of decline. 

The yearly “point-in-time” count of the population of Connecticut residents without homes was released earlier this month by the group Advancing Connecticut Together. The federally-required census found an additional 336 residents experiencing homelessness over 2021’s count of 2,594.

Jane Banks, executive director of South Park Inn, a shelter in Hartford, said her facility’s beds were frequently full in recent months. 

“We set aside 15 of our beds for the homeless outreach team and those beds are at capacity just about every night these days,” Banks said. 

The increase in those without a place to live comes after a period of sustained decline. The annual tally of single-night homelessness dropped for eight consecutive years, according to a report published last year by the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness

In 2016, the point-in-time tally recorded nearly 4,000 residents without a home and that number continued to roughly decrease every year until last year’s count of nearly 2,600. The pandemic and difficult economic conditions likely contributed to this year’s jump, Banks said Tuesday.

“Everybody is struggling economically and if you are poor, it’s really hard to get back on your feet,” Banks said. “People say this often but it’s true: It’s expensive to be poor. It’s not easy to get out of poverty, it takes a lot of resources and when you have the economic challenges everyone is facing coupled with the pandemic, it’s really hard to get out of poverty.”

Tackling the problem of homelessness in Connecticut will need to involve building more affordable housing in the state, Banks said. 

“We have to have the fortitude to say we have a problem here and we need to figure out how to resolve it. It may be that low income housing is going to abut up into a more affluent neighborhood and really create communities where everybody is welcome, regardless of your income and prestige,” Banks said. 

While the report depicted a rise in single-night homelessness, it also suggested that chronic homelessness dropped by 30% this year. Chronic homelessness applies to people without a home for at least a year, who are often struggling with serious disabilities, mental illness or substance abuse disorders.