SANTA CRUZ > Data from the third annual event is in
The variety of offerings at the recent Project Homeless Connect (PHC) included everything from reading glasses and dental screenings to one-on-one assistance and ID cards.
The April 17 event was the third annual installment of PHC—a one-stop shop that crops up once a year to provide a wide range services and support for the growing homeless population in Santa Cruz County.
“Homelessness is a really hot topic in Santa Cruz,” says Samantha Green, research analyst for Watsonville-based nonprofit Applied Survey Research, which organizes the event along with the United Way of Santa Cruz County. Together, the organizations gather 45 service agencies and 450 community volunteers for an eight-hour event that Green says has visibly changed lives.
“It’s wonderful to see people who were homeless two years ago who have a home now, who have gained weight, who we can see again, and who can see people who they’ve been helped by,” says Green. “It’s really amazing.”
In 2011, PHC provided 91 medical screenings and services. This year, that number increased to 194. The project also distributed 120 reading glasses, 219 clothing vouchers, 33 dental screenings, and more than 700 hygiene kits and supplies, to name just a few. This year, 63 California IDs were issued to those who had no form of identification before, thus having very limited access to a number of services, including shelter. Green believes this is one of the most important things PHC has to offer.
In addition to reaching out to new participants, PHC provides follow-up services to participants from previous years. According to Green, the hope is that this can help them streamline their services for future events. For instance, by knowing which individuals got help from the project in finding a home last year, organizers can now send them straight through to the triage system to get them help with whatever they need this time around.
“In just a few hours you can really see something change,” says Green. “So much happens in those eight hours, and we would love to see more people who don’t think there’s anything we can do come and see what a big difference a community coming together can really make.”
For more information on Project Homeless Connect, visit phc-santacruz.org.