Bailey McKeon ’22
Led by Kyle Fields ’21, Trinity Homelessness Project (THP) aims to support the community of those experiencing homelessness in Hartford by both aiding organizations that help those experiencing homelessness in our community and helping spread awareness, educating others, and advocating for people experiencing homelessness.
Although homelessness in Connecticut has declined steadily over the past decade, the Connecticut Council for Philanthropy estimates that Hartford currently has around 500 people experiencing homelessness on any given day. To put the cost of housing in Hartford in perspective, the fair market monthly cost of a two-bedroom apartment in Metro Hartford is around $1,194, which means that a renter would need to make at least a consistent $22.97 an hour to live there, according to a National Low-Income Housing Coalition report. Vy Phan ’18 began THP as a way to address the needs of those experiencing homelessness in Hartford while also creating an opportunity for Trinity students to better connect with the Hartford community.
Fields joined the club upon its creation as a freshman eager to engage with the Hartford community. Although Trinity College emphasizes its location within an urban setting and relationship with the community, many students graduate without ever developing a true connection with the campus’ neighbors. Fields found that THP provides a positive opportunity to go beyond Trinity’s grounds and get in touch with those around him. “My favorite part about THP is meeting people and getting to know them on a person-to-person basis,” Fields explained.
During his sophomore year, Fields helped someone transition from a shelter by carrying clunky furniture up the four flights of narrow stairs to this man’s new apartment. Rather than just having a simple exchange, moving the furniture into the apartment and leaving, Fields and the other THP members sat and conversed with the man they were helping for a while. “We were just talking about life,” Fields commented. “He told us about himself and we told him about us.” For Fields, THP is all about being personable and having the opportunity to know people and understand the lives of those experiencing homelessness in Hartford, along with learning what he can do to help.
This semester, Fields has put together an informal guest speaker series for club meetings. Although THP is restricted in what they can help with off campus and in-person during the pandemic, Fields strives to maintain the partnerships THP has with many of the local organizations by asking those involved in the organizations to speak as a part of these virtual club meetings. Hands on Hartford, Footwear with Care, and Journey Home are among the local organizations that THP partners with.
In a typical year, Fields and other THP members would help serve community meals with Hands on Hartford downtown, run a necessities food drive for the food pantry at Hands on Hartford, deliver donated furniture with Journey Home to help foster a home when those who have experienced homelessness move into transitional housing, and help with the annual winter boot drive run by Footwear with Care, among other things. THP members also attend a Faces of Homelessness event once a semester held by Hands on Hartford, which allows speakers who have experienced homelessness to share their stories.
Currently, THP is holding a menstrual product drive in collaboration with WGRAC, TCBWO, CONNPIRG, and The Women’s Network to benefit My Sisters’ Place and Mercy Housing, two women’s shelters in Hartford. Members of the Trinity College community can donate menstrual products at donation boxes or donate money that will go toward the needs of the women at these shelters. Donation boxes are located in the Mather basement at the Community Service Office, in the WGRAC Office on the second floor of Mather, and at 47 Crescent Street. Monetary donations can be sent by Venmo to @trincollHP.