Veteran Stranded in East Haven Gets Housing Help

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A trespassing call at an East Haven hotel Tuesday turned out to be much more than police expected.

Robert Chapin came to Connecticut from Texas for a woman he met online, and things didn’t’ go well.

“When I got up here, she decided she didn’t want to meet me,” said Chapin. “I gave her the last $40 I own for her mother’s medicine, supposedly.”

 Chapin said he sold his car to pay for a hotel room, but that ran out on Tuesday and the police were called.

“I unloaded on the police department, but we separated as friends,” said Chapin.

That’s because Officer Jon Trinh stepped up.

“Originally, I was just going to take it as a routine call, someone who just didn’t pay and was refusing to leave, but when I got there and spoke with Mr. Chapin, I could see there was a lot more to the story,” said Trinh. “We really couldn’t leave without seeing that he and his dog were well taken care of.”

Officers got him lunch at Chili’s, and police said the restaurant made several meals for free. Next, Trinh connected Chapin with a homeless veteran’s housing program.  

“This is what we signed up for, to help people, and I’m just really glad there were services available for Mr. Chapin right away.”  

Things got better for Chapin and his dog Loulou when they got to the LaQuinta Inn. Chapin is one of more than 12 veterans living there while they look for a permanent place to call home.   

“Oh, it’s amazing, they’re wonderful people. They’re always nice, really polite,” said Daisy Rivera who works the front desk.

In the New Haven area, Columbus House runs the federal program Supportive Services for Veterans and Families (SSVF). It helps veterans and their families who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

“We help with security deposit, rental assistance, employment services, things to get veterans stably housed,” said Aimee DeMusis, a program manager for SSVF. She said 33 people across the area are living in hotels.

The program received extra federal funds this year to keep veterans out of shelters where there’s a risk of COVID-19 spreading. She said this year has been difficult for homeless veterans as well.

“They’re feeling those same stressors we all are, but they’re all very grateful for the opportunity to stay here,” said DeMusis.

That includes Chapin and Loulou who are thankful to all, especially the police.

“And if I ever get any kind of money, I would donate it to them because they’ve done everything they possibly could to put me here where I am today,” said Chapin, who’s planning to stay in Connecticut and make the best of his journey.

“We all have ups and downs in our lives. It’s what you make of those ups and downs that makes a difference.”

Those interested in supporting Columbus House can click here.

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