Sen. Murphy spends day as a homeless man

Greg Nash

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) spent Monday living the life of a homeless man in New Haven, Conn., and said afterwards that Congress needs to continue funding programs that help people in need.

According to a report in the New Haven Independent, Murphy spent the day with "Fred," a homeless man who was in advertising sales before he lost his job and home earlier this year due to substance abuse. Murphy said he wanted an up-close look at how the homeless live in order to better understand the problem.

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"There's a limit to what you can understand about the reality of homelessness when you're sitting around a conference table," Murphy told the Independent.

Murphy met Fred at a shelter, then spent the day with him at a methadone clinic, coffee and donut shops, and the public library, where Fred filled out job applications.

Murphy said he has no plans for federal legislation based on his day but said Congress needs to maintain funding for shelter and unemployment benefits.

"There's a continuum of housing that people need, and it's broken today because we've stopped putting money into it," he said. "This guy's unemployment benefits run out today. The easiest thing we can do is to extend unemployment benefits."

Senate Democrats are expected to push in January for an extension of emergency unemployment benefits that were put in place in 2008 and expired on Dec. 28. Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) has proposed a three-month extension, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said he supports this idea.

Some Democrats have said they would consider finding ways to pay for the extension, which would cost about $6.5 billion.