Charting a Path for Low-Income Families

The Connecticut Association for Human Services is helping low-wage workers in Greater New Haven become more self-sufficient.

Above: From the DataHaven "Greater New Haven Community Index 2013", this chart represents all families with children living at home in the Greater New Haven region and their reported access to the items listed at all times over the past month or year.

With support from a Community Foundation grant, the Connecticut Association for Human Services (CAHS) is connecting low-wage workers in Greater New Haven with essential benefits they may need to survive in tough economic times, through the AccessBenefits Online (ABO) Program.

"On AccessBenefits Online, CAHS works with community-based organizations to provide application assistance services in neighborhoods all over New Haven, close to where families need them," says Roger Senserrich, ABO Director at CAHS. "This way they can get access to those benefits, working with organizations they trust, without having to go to DSS (the Dept. of Social Services)."

This means quicker access to benefits like SNAP (food stamps), Medicaid or HUSKY health insurance, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).

CAHS has expanded the program in the Greater New Haven region, training outreach workers at the Fair Haven Community Health Center, Cornell Scott Hill Health Center and Elm City Communities (New Haven Housing Authority). There are now over a dozen organizations in New Haven where people can learn of available resources that can help them get through tough times.

In one instance, a former Army corporal, returned from Afghanistan, was receiving treatment at the VA in West Haven and was directed to a CAHS outreach worker. He was homeless and had no money to purchase food until his disability claim for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was processed. CAHS helped him apply for SNAP benefits. Six months later, the man returned to the office to give the outreach worker a status update. He had found a part-time job and a place to live; he said the food stamps had saved his life.

CAHS recently announced another expansion of the ABO program into homeless shelters in Hartford in order to help people move off the streets.

Funding for this program was made possible through a preference fund at The Community Foundation. Learn more about CAHS and support their efforts by viewing their website.

Did You Know?

"Low-income" is characterized as a family's earnings below 200% of the poverty level. In 2012, the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey estimated that 66% of low-income families in Connecticut (earning less than $46,000 annually) were working families.
Source: The Working Poor Families Project