June 2, 2009
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An increasing number of families hit hard by the recession are seeking help in Contra Costa County, according to homeless program officials. Many of those families are experiencing homelessness for the first time and are in need of services that will place them in stable housing.
Cynthia Belon, Director of the Homeless Programs for Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS), expects to see a lot of those families June 17 at Project Homeless Connect, an annual free event that connects homeless people with the resources they need to end their homelessness.
"The reality is newly homeless families are not on the streets; they are living with friends and family members or staying in motels," Belon said. "But those are temporary solutions. We anticipate to see more families than in previous years."
Project Homeless Connect is a single-day event that offers everything from haircuts to health care, as well as food, referrals to area services and housing. Project Homeless Connect 4, sponsored by CCHS and the City of Richmond, will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 17 at the Richmond Memorial Auditorium, 403 Civic Center Street, in Richmond.
The event heavily relies on volunteers and donations from the community. This year, Belon said, donations have been lighter than in the past.
"We are in desperate need of socks, soap, deodorant, hand sanitizer, insect repellent, visors and sunglasses," she said. Donations can be delivered to 2047-C Arnold Industrial Way, Concord.
During a one-day count in January, the Homeless Program tallied nearly 4,000 sheltered and unsheltered homeless people. Shuttle transportation to and from the event is available at local homeless shelters, multi-service centers and other locations from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Services are provided on a first-come, first-serve basis.
"The idea of Project Homeless Connect is to not just hand out a flyer with phone numbers," Belon said. "People will actually receive the services they need on the spot and we will arrange for those services to be provided for the long term. It's more than a one-shot deal."
To volunteer at the event, contact the CCHS Homeless Program at 925-313-6124.
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