History and Mission

Columbus House opened its doors in 1982 to provide services for men and women at least 18 years of age. Our goals quickly broadened from the mere provision of food and shelter and simple survival, to understanding and working toward overcoming the problems which cause people to become homeless.

Columbus House, along with its core of loyal supporters, friends and volunteers, has remained committed to fulfilling its mission: "To serve people experiencing homelessness or at imminent risk by providing life-saving outreach, shelter and housing and by fostering their personal growth and independence. We advocate for and create affordable housing to end homelessness in our communities."


In order to accomplish our mission, Columbus House relies on government grants as well as contributions from the private sector including businesses, foundations and individuals. It is also because of our extensive base of volunteer support and our collaborative partnerships with a number of community-based service providers that we are able to offer such a broad continuum of care for those experiencing homelessness.



1981.pngShelter doors open at 200 Columbus Avenue, our original location in New Haven.


Columbus House opens first Men's Seasonal Overflow Shelter in New Haven.


Outreach & Engagement program with collaborative partners begins serving those who are living on the street.


First-transitional-program-opens.pngColumbus House implements our first Transitional Living Program, Davenport House (now Recovery House), to help prepare clients for permanent housing and independent living.


Columbus House begins offering case management for clients in newly-opened Permanent Supportive Housing site, Cedar Hill. Several additional Supportive Housing sites would follow over the years.


CH_LosInt_1.jpgConstruction is completed on our new shelter at 586 Ella T. Grasso Boulevard in New Haven doubling our capacity to serve single adults.


Columbus House case managers begin serving Permanent Supportive Housing clients living in “scattered site” apartments.


Columbus House officially adopts a “Housing First” policy, thereby committing to the belief that everyone is ready for and deserves a home.


Columbus House expands Permanent Supportive Housing services to Waterbury residents.


family-services.pngThe Middlesex Family Shelter in Middletown becomes a Columbus House program, with enhanced services to help families move toward permanent housing.


Columbus House begins offering Rapid Re-Housing as a means to help people move directly from homelessness into permanent, independent housing.


Through a program known as Pathways to Independence, Columbus House integrates services for housing, benefits counseling, and behavioral health, recognizing that complex problems require comprehensive solutions.


As part of the nationwide effort to end Veteran homelessness, Columbus House expands dramatically to serve over 350 Veterans and their families in Middlesex, New Haven, and New London counties.


DSCN0620 (004).JPGColumbus House opens the first Medical Respite Program for people experiencing homelessness in Connecticut.


Federal government announces that Connecticut is the first state in the country to end “chronic” homelessness among Veterans. Columbus House and its many partners throughout the state contributed to this milestone.


The Wallingford Emergency Shelter—serving families year-round and single adults seasonally—becomes a program of Columbus House.


Adeline open house low res 2.jpgA small family and single adult move into the first of five multi-unit homes to be produced through HOMELESS:HOUSED — a five year design and building project with Columbus House and Yale School of Architecture’s Jim Vlock Building Project.


Three Columbus House programs – Supportive Services for Veteran Families/Rapid Re-Housing, Permanent Supportive Housing and Medical Respite – earn a three-year accreditation from CARF (The Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities) demonstrating our dedication to meeting international standards for program quality and accountability. The programs are reaccredited by CARF in April of 2021.


CTCanData_Dashboard_ScreenShot.jpgColumbus House and partners Supportive Housing WORKS, Opening Doors of Fairfield County, Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness, and the CT Department of Housing launch ctcandata.org – an unprecedented level of data transparency and accessibility to Connecticut’s Coordinated Access Networks (CAN) project performance data.


Alison Cunningham, Columbus House’s leader for over 21 years, says farewell.


Theresa_Lea_Outreach_Pandemic.jpgIn response to  COVID-19, Columbus House moves all emergency shelter and warming center guests to hotel rooms by April 6, and shelters are upgraded for virus protection. Our housing team develops a new Rapid Exit Approach which enables over 700 people to move into permanent housing between March 2020 and May 2022 – an unprecedented success. The efforts are recognized by local and national partners and media. 


Margaret Middleton accepts position as Columbus House’s new CEO.


With COVID safety measures in place – such as an upgraded HVAC system, reconfigured spaces for social distancing, staggered schedules, enhanced cleaning, and more – guests begin returning to the New Haven Shelter on April 1.