This Weeks Right Resources Bulletin from One Family

This Week’s News from the ICHH Regional Networks and the Right Resources Bulletin Board
October 19, 2009

On September 29, 2009 the City of Springfield hosted its third annual Project Homeless Connect (PHC). Nearly one thousand homeless and low-income families and individuals took part in the city’s Project Homeless Connect.  With the help of 80 vendor-service provider agencies, state and city departments, and landlords, and over 600 volunteers, the PHC provided services in areas ranging from housing, identification, civic representation and advocacy, health, income, and veterans affairs.  While Gerry McCafferty, the City of Springfield’s Director of Housing,  is inclined to attribute the growth of this year’s 6-hour event from the previous year’s high of 600 to the growing number of at-risk people affected by the current economic climate, the value of the PHC is clearly gaining traction among homeless advocates and low-income individuals.

The figures from this year’s PHC largely speak for themselves. 364 individuals were issued Massachusetts IDs, a feat considering that this year’s rise in the price of identification had made obtaining an ID impossible for many. The essential first step in insuring that the demand would be met at this year’s PHC was successful private fundraising prior to the event. Additionally, 642 people were able to have candid conversations with trained ‘housing triage’ counselors, with 13 people eventually housed by the end of the day. A special court session for people with outstanding warrants was held, and one man was able to clear his warrant and get his driver’s license – crucial to his ability to travel to work.

In addition to housing assistance, some of the more popular programs included assistance with birth certificates, vision tests, haircuts, influenza shots, food and clothing, legal assistance, and mental health care. The most promising outcomes of the day’s event, however, were the un-measurable steps made towards getting people in housing and the relationships built between service providers and landlords and the individuals they help.

A far greater emphasis was placed on families this year, a demographic that has shown the greatest expansion of need for easily-accessible services since last year’s PHC. At-risk and low-income families were bused in from motels, and every homeless household that came had a volunteer advocate by their side throughout the day to assist with cutting down red tape and expediting the provision of essential services. The volunteers themselves, largely drawn from faith communities and local colleges, would later describe their service as a remarkably educational and enlightening experience that shed light on the arduous struggle to receive services that families and individuals regularly endure. In every regard, Project Homeless Connect was an overwhelming success for the city of Springfield.

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