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carried clothing donations in his arms today at The 11th Project Homeless Connect –
Downtown San Diego, but for a far
different reason than when he was one of the homeless individuals who attended
this resource fair in 2015.
This time, David, a 53-year-old Point Loma resident who works full-time today as an
airport parking dispatcher, was volunteering to help the 1,016 homeless San
Diegans who attended Project Homeless Connect to get the services they need to
begin to get back on their feet, just as he did.
“I reach out to people like this because I was there, and I understand,” said
David, who added that Project Homeless Connect helped connect him with the Serial
Inebriate Program that helped him turn his life around.
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer greeted homeless individuals and thanked the volunteers
at Project Homeless Connect.
“I’m just so thankful for all of the volunteers for coming out. They are making a
difference. Today, it’s about connecting people with help—helping them get back
into housing, helping them get the services they need, and showing the kindness
and compassion that helps define who we are as San Diegans,” said Mayor
More than 350
volunteers and close to 90 service providers assisted homeless individuals and
families at Project Homeless Connect.
“Every person who walks through these doors has a need, has a story. That’s what is
most important as we serve hundreds of homeless San Diegans today,” said President
& CEO Richard C. Gentry of the San Diego Housing Commission (SDHC), the
lead organizer of Project Homeless Connect.
services, such as eye exams, as well as an increase in major donations of socks,
non-prescription reading glasses, jackets, sweatshirts, and blankets provided
homeless San Diegans with resources to meet their immediate and long-term needs
at Project Homeless Connect.
Major donations for
Project Homeless Connect from companies and organizations increased, such as 7,000
pairs of new socks from STANCE; 500 new and gently used jackets from the San
Diego Rescue Mission; as well as 143 new, nonprescription reading glasses from the
SDHC employee donation drive.
Lt. Carole Beason of the San Diego Police Department
Homeless Outreach Team (HOT), which handed out flyers to let homeless San
Diegans know about Project Homeless Connect, said homeless individuals looked
forward to this resource fair.
“Many of them were excited that they were going to have this opportunity to come out
here and get some of the services that they need to start getting themselves
back on track,” Lt. Beason said.
Early in the day, Kurt
– who said he sleeps on the streets downtown in the Gaslamp Quarter nearby – had
already crossed most of the services he had hoped to receive off his list. He
had obtained warm clothing and housing information, and was looking forward to
getting a haircut and a warm meal.
“This helps a lot.
It’s just a one-stop-shop. For those who come here for help and have a plan of
the services they want to receive, this is the place to come to,” Kurt said.
Community Health Centers performed eye exams at Project Homeless Connect,
fulfilling a need that had been among the most requested services at Project
Homeless Connect in previous years.
Also for the first
time, representatives from the SDHC’s 1,000 Homeless Veterans Initiative, which
includes the “Housing Our Heroes” Landlord Outreach Program, helped homeless
Veterans start their search for housing or connect with a service provider that
could refer them to the program. SDHC’s 1,000 Homeless Veterans Initiative will
provide housing opportunities for up to 1,000 homeless Veterans and is part of HOUSING
FIRST – SAN DIEGO, SDHC’s three-year Homelessness Action Plan (2014-17).
In addition, more
than 100 homeless San Diegans were registered for a database list for housing
at a booth staffed by volunteers from the Regional Task Force on the Homeless.
providers participating in Project Homeless Connect for the first time included:
the Susan G. Komen Foundation, which provided referrals for free health exams;
the San Diego Public Library, which provided information about its programs, services
and obtaining library cards; and HEAL – Homeless Empowerment through Art &
Leadership, a nonprofit that provides opportunities for artistic
self-expression for homeless individuals.
One of the
volunteers at Project Homeless Connect was Shavonne, a former recipient of
Federal rental assistance who is now a homeowner and the owner of a childcare business.
Shavonne participated in the SDHC Achievement Academy, a state-of-the-art
learning and resource center and computer that provides programs that emphasize
career planning, job skills and personal financial education at no cost to
Federal rental assistance participants and public housing residents.
As she walked into
Golden Hall and saw the faces of the homeless individuals eager with
anticipation for the services they would receive, Shavonne could put herself in
their position as she reflected on the services she’s been fortunate to
“It really brought
warmth to my heart,” she said. “Today is the day they brought all of the
services to them. They didn’t have to go look for it, call around, wait on hold
or hope that they get to the right place. They’re actually here, they’re doing
intake, they’re offering screenings, the DMV is here, you can get IDs here –
it’s amazing. So I’m happy to be a part of it,”
provided to homeless individuals on-site included medical exams and additional
health services from the Family Health Centers of San Diego’s mobile medical
unit; and haircuts from Bellus Academy, along with additional hairstylists and
barbers. The San Diego County Dental Society and the San Diego County Dental
Hygienists’ Society provided dental screenings.
Department of Motor Vehicles once again provided identification card
registration for Project Homeless Connect participants, who need the cards to
apply for jobs, housing and additional services. The U.S. Social Security
Administration was also on-site to register participants for benefits.
Villages also provided 1,200 hot meals for homeless San Diegans at Project
returning services include mental health and substance abuse referrals; flu
shots; pet care services; and counseling for housing, employment, and legal
A U.S. Marine
Corps Veteran who served from 1980-1991, including combat in the first Persian
Gulf War, 57-year-old William, received a variety of services at Project
“I was getting
ready to do a haircut and eyeglasses, vision. I got some clothes. I’ll be ready
to get a meal in a little while. I just got a flu shot. And I’m trying to get
some dental work done. … My day is going good so far, and I’m looking forward
to more better days,” said William, who has been homeless for a month after
losing his job in security.
For the last three
weeks, he has been living in interim housing at Connections Housing Downtown
through PATH San Diego. He is working on obtaining benefits through the U.S.
Department of Veterans Affairs.
San Diego City
Councilmembers Chris Ward and Barbara Bry stopped by Project Homeless Connect
to speak with homeless individuals and volunteers.
Connect volunteers today included SDHC Commissioners Gary Gramling, Roberta
Spoon and Margaret Davis.
In addition, also
among volunteers today were close to 100 students from San Ysidro High School
and from the Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program at Innovation Middle
School in Clairemont Mesa, who are also donating kits with hygiene supplies.
provided by Cox Communications allowed for a real-time count of the
participants at Project Homeless Connect, which included information they
provide about themselves in response to a voluntary survey when they enter the
resource fair. The answers also provide crucial data about the participants.
SDHC will compile the results of the surveys into a report.
The previous one-day resource fair, The
10th Project Homeless Connect, was held on January 27, 2016, and served
1,215 San Diegans.
This year is the
seventh consecutive time that SDHC was lead organizer of Project Homeless
Connect, providing financial
support and volunteer recruitment through its website. Major organizing
partners were the City of San Diego, Interfaith Shelter Network, Family Health
Centers of San Diego, and Father Joe's Villages.
1122 Broadway, Suite 300, San Diego, CA 92101
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