During the last recession in Connecticut, both utilization rates in the state’s homeless shelters and the number of homeless turned away from shelters for lack of a bed spiked dramatically. Given that the current economic downturn is directly related to housing crises, homeless shelters may face an even greater strain in the coming months and years.
In a troubling trend, the utilization rate of homeless shelters has not returned to pre-recession levels, so shelters may be in an even more precarious position in this recession than the previous one, with less available space for an influx of clients struggling through this economic downturn. In April 2008, there was a 93% utilization rate, which was higher than the 2003 peak of 92% in the last recession. During the last recession, between 2000 and 2003, there was a 233% increase in the number of people turned away from homeless shelters for lack of a bed. In 2007, four years into a recovery that began in Connecticut in 2003, far more people were still being turned away from homeless shelters than in 2000, even though the number of shelter beds is greater now than in 2000.