Homeless in New Haven: Program aims to break the cycle

WTNH/Jacquie Slater
WTNH/Jacquie Slater

(WTNH) — After nine year in prison Jennifer Kos found herself free. Free, but homeless.

“Right now I have a tent with an air mattress. We made a fire pit and I have a little area where I wash dishes.

For more than a year, homeless has been her reality.

“Everyday is a tragedy. You know, where you’re going to go, who you’re gonna run into and how you’re gonna eat,” said Kos.

Kos is one of hundreds of homeless fighting to survive in New Haven. This year’s Point in Time count found 625 homeless people in the New Haven area in one night. That’s up from 567 last year.

“There really isn’t a face of homelessness. It can happen to anyone at anytime. There’s no age, there’s no race,” said Bailey Orell.

Orell manages the homeless program at Fellowship Place on Elm Street. Their new facility was completed this summer. It’s a day program that offers food, laundry facilities, counseling and structure to those who need it most.

“The stories that we hear of people that used to have a job, who used to have home, used to have a car. All these things we take for granted. Just to have a place to take a shower and being able to put on a clean pair of socks can change a person’s day,” said Orell.

Fellowship’s homeless program is helping about 35 people a day. Some come in on their own, others are picked up at shelters and driven to the location in the facility’s vans. It’s an outreach program that is leading to success.

“The best way is to keep moving forward. Don’t hang around the negative crowd. It’s all about staying positive and focused on what your dream is,” said Kos.

With Fellowship’s help Kos is now enrolled in college classes at Gateway. She is on a wait list for transitional housing. She wants others to know there is help out there if you’re willing to accept it.

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