New housing hopes to change lives of homeless youth

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – State and city officials cut the ribbon on a New Haven building designed to give homeless young people a fresh start. Too often homelessness can be permanent, especially for someone who is on the streets already in their late teens and early 20s. The hope is Winchester Manor will change that, by giving them targeted services, and rooms that are actually really nice.

The building has seven beautiful new apartments that will soon be home to seven people who are homeless. Not just any people, though. Winchester Manor is strictly for people under the age of 25.

“When you’re 18-24, you’re still not fully developed,” said New Haven Mayor Toni Harp at the ribbon cutting ceremony. The folks who will live at Winchester House will have experienced a lot in their short lives.

“Some have extreme mental health or substance abuse issues,” explained Paul Kosowsky, Vice President of Youth Continuum, the group running Winchester Manor. “Some have been the victims of domestic violence, some have been discarded by their families due to unwanted pregnancy or to being part of a gender minority.”

Last year’s count showed around 4,300 unaccompanied, homeless youth in Connecticut. The ones who will come live here are the ones who have been on the street the longest, with the most severe issues.

Giving homeless youth permanent supportive housing, and the help they need, while they are young, can set them up for a whole lifetime of opportunities they never would have had.

“To go back to school, or to continue with their education, and have a future that includes contributing to a community,” said state Housing Commissioner Evonne Klein.

They call it “permanent supportive housing,” but maybe it should be called “no time limit” supportive housing. While it’s true that no one is going to get kicked out while they still need help, everybody wants the residents to eventually be able to support themselves on their own.

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