A $5 million federal grant will offer more housing to homeless families with children, particularly in the Middletown, Willimantic and Norwich areas.

Hundreds of state children are in foster care because their parent or parents were homeless. Five hundred families are staying intact and living in subsidized housing under a foster-care reduction program, and this federal grant, announced Thursday, will expand that program by 50 families.

The program provides safe, decent housing and support services. The grant will pay for an additional 50 housing vouchers for families with mental-health, substance abuse, domestic violence and other treatment needs.

Only five such grants were awarded in the country, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Joette Katz, commissioner of the Department of Children and Families, said Thursday.

Malloy said the goal was to “keep families together and help those who are in greatest need get back on their feet.”

Since Malloy appointed Katz in January 2011, there has been an 11-percent drop in the number of children in state care.

“Supportive housing is one of the critical ways we can keep more families together and reunify families where a removal was necessary,” Katz said.

She said the federal grant signals confidence in Connecticut’s child-protection efforts and allows for the expansion of an effective program at no cost to state taxpayers.

The grant will target chronically homeless families in eastern Connecticut, including Norwich, Willimantic and Middletown. Katz said that the housing program in these areas doesn’t meet the existing need.

The families pay up to 40 percent of their income for rent. The grant will pay for additional job training and other employment services to help parents get meaningful jobs, Malloy and Katz said in a joint statement.


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