Elisha Sherman, Communications & Development Coordinator
(860) 450-7400, ext. 7456/ Elisha.Sherman@accessagency.org
October 23, 2019
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Northeastern No-Freeze Project Calls for the Community to Help House the Homeless
Danielson, CT — 2019 —A group of local nonprofits in collaboration with local town government, faith communities and concerned residents have come together to work on creating a space to shelter people experiencing homelessness this winter in northeast Connecticut. “This is a community-wide effort to find ways that we can combine our efforts and resources, so people don’t freeze during the upcoming cold winter months, said Peter DeBiasi President/CEO at the Access Community Action Agency.
Access operates the only year-round Emergency Shelter in northeast Connecticut, with 40 beds to shelter individuals and families. Over the past three years, the Access Shelter which is located in Danielson has also allowed as many as 15 additional people who are not residents of the Shelter to stay overnight in the first floor community room. The facility is just not able to safety shelter that many people, especially with young children in the building, DeBiasi said.
Because there are so many people who during are in danger of literally freezing to death because they do not have housing, the collaborative effort began last April to create a Northeast CT Overnight No-Freeze Shelter that would be available this winter. In addition to Access, collaborating members include the Killingly-Brooklyn Interfaith Council, nonprofit agency TEEG, Interfaith Human Services of Putnam, and the Eastern Connecticut Coordinated Access Network (ECAN).
Kathleen Krider, Senior Director of Community Engagement and Resource Management at Access spoke last month at a meeting of the Northeastern Connecticut Council of Governments (NECCOG) and was well received according to John Filchak, NECCOG Executive Director. Since then, the Town of Brooklyn contributed $2,000 and Killingly contributed toward what Krider said is a goal of $75,000 to cover the cost of operating the No-Freeze Shelter this winter. NECCOG Executive Director John Filchak said he expects other towns to provide funds as well”. “It’s great that these leaders get it,” Krider said. A tentative site that can accommodate up to 30 people has been identified in Brooklyn, and can be served by public transit lines. The Shelter would be open overnight from 7 p.m. to 8 a.m.
Krider stressed that the priorities now are to both raise enough funds to pay for operating the No-Freeze Shelter, and to find and train up to 60 volunteers who would spend one evening per month there to supplement paid staff members.
Once up and running, the Shelter would provide a warm dry place for people without a home to sleep and use bathroom facilities. The plan is for the Shelter go be open 7 nights a week from December thru March. Volunteers will work from 6:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., and paid staff will be on site from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. How much the Shelter can actually be open will depend largely on the fundraising efforts. As an added benefit to those using the Shelter, the NECCOG will shelter dogs at no cost. Filchak commented that people don’t want to leave their pets so they may not seek shelter in fear of losing them. “We would take in their dog at our shelters at no cost,” if they do stay overnight at the shelter”
The Northeastern Connecticut Transit District (NECTD) buses will transport people to the No-Freeze Shelter with a 7 p.m. arrival, and provide rides from the site at 8 a.m. The collaborative has so far raised $30,000 toward their $75,000 goal. The funds raised have come from Access ($15,000), TEEG ($2,500), the ECAN ($5,000), plus the Killingly and Brooklyn allocations. Donations for this project can be made to “Access CAA” with “No-Freeze Project” written on the memo line and either postal mailed to or dropped off at 1315 Main Street, Willimantic, CT 06226, or you donate through the Access website: www.accessagency.org/donate.
The Access Community Action Agency is designated by the federal and state government as the anti-poverty agency in northeast Connecticut. Access provides food, affordable housing, job readiness services, and other pathways to economic self-reliance for vulnerable under-resourced families and individuals throughout the region. For more information about Access’s services, call (860) 450-7400 in the Willimantic area, (860) 412-1600 in the Danielson area, or visit www.accessagency.org.