Two weeks after some homeless activists protested her decision to proceed with the annual spring closing of an overflow emergency shelter, Mayor Toni Harp received a national award for helping the homeless.
Harp Thursday received the Medical Respite Award for Excellence at a conference of the National Health Care for the Homeless Council in New Orleans.
The award recognizes Harp’s work passing legislation to create and fund a medical respite program In New Haven during her time as a state senator. That program, administered by Columbus House, opened its doors in October 2013 as the first of its kind in the state.
“The key elements of a homeless medical respite program include short-term shelter, access to skilled nursing and other medical care, and behavioral health services as needed for acutely ill, injured, and recuperating homeless residents,” Mayor Harp said in a release. “The secure and structured environment we’ve created in New Haven gives respite staff the opportunity to provide primary medical care and earn the trust of homeless patients, so they in turn might be more willing to consider psychosocial assessments and additional case management services.”
“I’m honored to accept this recognition on behalf of all those in New Haven working to address the vulnerability of those living without a place to call home,” Mayor Harp added.
Homelessness has emerged as a hot issue in recent weeks. The closure of the city’s seasonal “overflow” homeless shelter prompted protests and led to activists erecting a camp for homeless people on city land in the Hill. The Harp administration dismantled that camp just one day after it was set up, and arrested two organizers.
Mearnwhile, Harp has been supportive of an ongoing inter-agency “100-day challenge” to house 75 percent of the city’s chronically homeless by the end of July.