On January 30, in the midst of much needed rain, 656 homeless individuals and families, as well as people on the brink of homelessness, received much needed services from more than 100 service providers. The event took place simultaneously in Hanford, Tulare and Visalia and was organized by the Kings/Tulare Continuum of Care on Homelessness with support from hundreds of sponsors and volunteers.
Project Homeless Connect is a one-day, one-stop event that assists individuals and families experiencing homelessness with the resources they need to overcome barriers to housing. The event provided participants access to a wide range of services from dental health to mental health, to the health of their pets. Other services included haircuts, access to mainstream benefits, legal assistance and housing resources. DMV was on hand to offer state ID cards. Services were geared towards all ages, from children and youth to adults and seniors.
“Serving so many people in one day is only possible because of the collaborative efforts of community agencies, both private and governmental, as well as the outstanding volunteers who assisted with the event,” said Machael Smith, program manager of the Kings/ Tulare Continuum of Care. “Project Homeless Connect is about connecting people with services that remove barriers to housing. We were able to connect more than 100 people with replacement California ID cards and birth certificates. Without these forms of identification, one cannot obtain housing or secure employment.”
What makes it so special is that everything in it is free — including the services of hundreds of volunteers who are on hand to assist participants throughout the day. The event was made possible with support from sponsors as well as support from partner agencies, businesses and concerned citizens throughout the community.
This year’s event was combined with the Annual Point in Time Census Count. The census count is a one-night snapshot that enables communities to find out not just how many people are homeless, but who is homeless and more importantly, why they are homeless.
“We served 656 people at the Project Homeless Connect and also sent teams of people around the entire region in an effort to complete a survey for every street homeless person who did not attend the Project Homeless Connect,” said Smith. “Those who provided a survey were given a bag with a blanket and toiletry items. The data collected from both events will inform our local community on the issue of homelessness and enable us to apply for various grant funding.”
People who want to help can visit The Kings/Tulare Continuum of Care on Homelessness at www.kingstularecoc.org or like them on Facebook to keep informed about local homelessness, needs, solutions and opportunities to help in our community.