Middletown shows how local groups are fighting homelessness

- FILE - Main Street in Middletown (WTNH)

MIDDLETOWN, Conn (WTNH) — With the state’s budget in crisis, groups that help the homeless are hoping their funding will not get cut. They say the revamped housing assistance system in place for the past two years has really working.

It worked for Tony Crews. He now has his own key, to his own one bedroom apartment in Middletown. Getting that key was a big deal for Tony.

“It was a great feeling, How can you describe it?” asked Crews. “It’s uplifting, it’s…finally.”

Finally, after year of being homeless, living on the streets of Middletown.

“I did what it took to stay alive,” Crews said. “Literally, I said earlier, I lost friends. A couple of them froze to death.”

He reached out for help and found it in a system called Coordinated Access Networks, or CAN. It brings together all the local shelters, centers and soup kitchens better than ever before.

“Over the last few years we have been able to take every agency in Middletown that touches on housing the homeless, and brought them into a collaboration that is transparent, efficient, cost effective,” Lydia Brewster with St. Vincent De Paul Middletown.

The Middletown area CAN met with lawmakers today in hopes the government will continue to fund the state’s various CANs.

“We’ve made enormous strides, but we have to protect what we have accomplished,” Rep. Matthew Lesser, (D) Middletown. “It’s potentially under threat, but we’ve gone a long way and it’s something to be proud of.”

Last year, the Middletown area got 70 people off the streets and into homes where they can not only be safe, but thrive like Tony.

“Boom, I’m sending out resumes,” said Crews. “I’m actually getting back in communication with my kids. It’s liberating is the only word I can come up with.”

If you or someone you know needs help getting off the street, it all starts with a call to the state’s help line. Just dial 2-1-1.

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