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Cities offer services to homeless individuals during project homeless connect week.

Nearly 40 cities and counties hosted events to provide housing and other services to homeless individuals during National Project Homeless Connect Week, which took place December 4-8, 2006.

Launched by the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) in 2005, the week offers an opportunity for mayors and other community leaders to sponsor Project Homeless Connect Days. Project Homeless Connect is an innovative model of service provision to homeless individuals in which cities host one-day events that bring volunteers, area businesses, nonprofit organizations and government agencies together to create a one-stop shop of services for the homeless.

Some of the services offered include public benefit enrollment, shelter, employment services, on-site dental care, hot meals, wheelchair repair and legal aid services.

The first Project Homeless Connect event was launched by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom in October 2004 in a large warehouse in the city. Since that time, this model of service provision has spread to cities across the country and has been identified by USICH as an innovation that mobilizes civic will toward ending homelessness.

During the most recent Project Homeless Connect Week, more than 6,100 volunteers worked with businesses, community organizations and state and federal agencies in 39 cities to provide assistance to more than 15,000 homeless individuals, helping them move closer to permanent housing.

"Project Homeless Connect is making a big impact on how cities across the nation are solving the problem of homelessness," said Mayor Newsom. "One by one, we're helping people off the streets and into permanent housing."

San Francisco, Calif.

In San Francisco, 1,993 homeless individuals received services on December 7 at the city's bi-weekly event, which drew 1,600 volunteers--a record for San Francisco's Project Homeless Connect events. Of the participants, 331 people received assistance accessing public benefits such as food stamps or Social Security, 388 were screened for employment opportunities, 267 received flu shots and 212 received legal assistance. By the end of the day, the event helped 132 people secure shelter or housing.

Louisville, Ky.

Also on December 7, Louisville-Jefferson Country Metropolitan Government launched its first Project Homeless Connect Day. Although the city had little time to plan the event, it was a great success, in which 327 individuals accessed an array of services.

The event brought more than 70 volunteers and 25 service providers together to provide participants with vision screening, flu shots, identification cards, legal services, medical and mental health screening and applications for federal benefits. One participant was found to have an extremely high blood pressure reading. On-site health center staff believed he was at risk of having a stroke and immediately transported him to a nearby hospital for treatment.

Miami, Fla.

On December 11, the City of Miami sponsored "Miami Cares II," its second Project Homeless Connect Day. Mayor Manny Diaz welcomed the more than 200 volunteers and 500 homeless participants who attended. The city gave each participant a "Care Package" that consisted of sweaters, hygiene kits and other personal items.

The event provided 445 participants with a "sit-down" meal. In addition, 148 people received optical services, 134 got haircuts, 24 people applied for permanent housing, 25 individuals received mental health assessments and 15 families were reunited.

Orlando, Fla.

Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orange County Mayor Richard Crotty launched the joint city-county Project Homeless Connect event for the first time on December 8. Three hundred fifty volunteers connected more than 600 homeless individuals to services.

Throughout the day, 22 people were placed in permanent housing. The state's ID Mobile Unit issued a record number 83 State Identification cards. More than 300 participants received packages that included blankets, socks and underwear. Volunteers at the Orlando event even offered pet care for homeless individual with pets.

Project Homeless Connect is an "idea that has inspired a national innovation targeted to our homeless neighbors, capturing the creative imagination and best instincts of our country," says Philip Mangano, executive director of USICH. "At the Council, we have rapidly disseminated this initiative and now 70 other cities across the nation have joined San Francisco in this innovative and results focused phenomenon."

Details: For more information about Project Homeless Connect, including tools to help cities start their own projects, visit the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness website at www.ich.gov.

For other questions about how cities can become involved in Project Homeless Connect or promoting family economic success, contact Heidi Goldberg at NLC's Institute for Youth, Education, and Families at (202) 626-3069 or goldberg@nlc.org.
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Author:Goldberg, Heidi
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 29, 2007
Words:747
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