What Working Together is All About, Project Homeless Connect
In 2004, with well over 6,000 homeless residing in the city, The City of San Francisco was ready to do something about it. Thus Project Homeless Connect was created as a one-day, one-stop shop for housing, support and quality of life services for the homeless. The following year in the fall of 2005, this model was replicated in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. By winter of 2006, 40 cities across the United States joined together to take part in a National Project Homeless Connect Week. Today over 200 cities participate in Project Homeless Connect with Redding being one of the most recent additions.
On May 19, 2009 Redding held its first Project Homeless Connect Day at the Convention Center. Over 400 people, many of whom live on the streets or in shelters, came through the door to experience the range of services provided. The services seemed endless. A person could get a haircut, repair their wheelchair, get new eyeglasses and file for Social Security all within the same room. Food and beverages were provided throughout the day and each attendee received a gift bag with their choice of toiletries and other necessities on the way out. Some of the more unique services provided were free massages and personal photographs. There were even animal service providers present to animal-sit and provide free vaccinations and vouchers for spay and neuter.
The health services provided were tremendous. Over 90 people had their vision checked by Dr. Casa and 64 people received new glasses that day from Dan’s Optical. Shasta Community Health Center conducted examinations and health screenings for 114 people. The medical staff noted that they “saw a number of patients that we’ve never seen before.”
Don Meek, of the Redding/Shasta Homeless Continuum of Care Council and the coordinator for the event, noted the importance of this event was that “typically each of the services provided are single silo kind of work. With very little effort each service came together offering a whole new plateau of efficiency for the providers and recipients.” Another outcome was seeing homeless people access services not typically available to them; proving that this type of innovation can break down socio-economic barriers while also helping those in need.
Sandy Shelby, Director of Another Chance Animal Welfare League, reflected on the day saying “this is definitely what working together is all about.” With over 350 volunteers and over 450 individuals and families receiving, food, clothing, grooming, DMV services, health services and more, we definitely agree.
Project Homeless Connect had many sources of funding and support for the event including a $2,000 grant from the Community Foundation with support by The California Endowment.