Protest to keep New Haven shelters open

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH)– Protestors hit the streets of New Haven Thursday and even occupied the Mayor’s office. The demonstrators are trying to get the city to keep its overflow homeless shelter open.

Every morning, New Haven’s overflow homeless shelter makes everyone get out and not come back until the evening. But the morning of May 1st, they usually make everyone get out and not come back for months.

So many homeless spend the warm weather months sleeping wherever they can.

“Any type of shelter you can find. You stay out in the rain. All your belonging,s your clothing, soaking wet,” said Mike Stebbins, New Haven.

Mike Stebbins recently got housing, but spent years in and out of shelters. This year, he and other homeless advocates decided to try to change the pattern.

homeless shelter protest

“What do we want? Housing! When do we want it? Now!” they chanted.

They marched on City Hall to try to get the Mayor to keep the overflow shelter open.

“What we’re asking is for them to just compromise and come up with a solution that could work for everybody,” said Godfrey King, New Haven.

But even before the protest started, City Hall announced the shelter would stay open for another week. But in the words of the protestors, “where then, shall we go?”

To get an answer, they went right to the Mayor. Her office, at least.

They spent about a half hour occupying the Mayor’s office, then she came out to say the city only had the money for another week, and she hoped area churches could provide more help.

“I’m hoping that they can come together again and provide resources so that there will be a place for people to go,” said Mayor Toni Harp, (D) New Haven.

She also says she’s trying to end the need for the overflow shelter with an ambitious 100 day plan to end chronic homelessness in New Haven.

“During this 100 day period, we have relationships with the housing authority, with other housing providers and other folks who provide services to come forward and support our most vulnerable population,” said Harp.

As of Thursday morning, the folks who run the overflow shelter didn’t even know the Mayor was keeping it open an extra week. They’d all been given pink slips. The Mayor promises to have staff back in place when the shelter reopens at night.

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