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No-freeze shelter already filling up

By MICHELLE FIRESTONE

Chronicle Staff Writer

WILLIMANTIC — The Windham Region No Freeze Hospitality Center, which opened Nov. 1, has filled up more quickly than usual.

“We’ve had about 45 people admitted, so we’re pretty full,” said Leigh Duffy, executive director of the shelter. “Usually, it takes about a month to fill up.”

Duffy said she thinks the high intake may be caused by the state budget crisis.

She noted, under the temporary state budget implemented by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy previously, many nonprofit agencies that help the homeless experienced state funding cuts. That included mental health programs.

After several months, legislators finally approved a state budget.

“The good part about that state budget is a lot of funding for our state homeless services system has remained in place,” she said.

Duffy said those who work at the shelter were hoping, given local efforts to combat homelessness, there would be a “significant drop” in the intake of shelter clients.

The shelter, located at 75 Bridge St., is open during the colder-weather months. It is open to anyone over age 18.

The Northeast Coordinated Access Network (NECAN), a regional network Duffy is involved with, has been working to house homeless people, including those at the shelter.

“We can only move people out of here (the shelter) when there’s a place to move them,” she said.

Last spring, Malloy announced a statewide initiative to combat homelessness, led by the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness, had been successful.

According to a press release issued by Malloy’s office in May, a census taken this year revealed the overall homeless population decreased 13 percent from the previous year and 24 percent since 2007.

The press release also stated the census revealed 415 people were unsheltered, a 38 percent decrease from 2016.

Duffy said the shelter operates only on local funds and doesn’t receive state or federal funding.

Financial donations can be given on the shelter’s website, www.windhamnofreeze.com, where a list of items the shelter is seeking can also be found.

Donations can also be mailed to Windham No Freeze Hospitality Center, P.O. Box 46, Willimantic 06226, or dropped off at the office during business hours, Monday through Thursday, 1 to 4 p.m.

The shelter can be reached at 860-450-1346.

 

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