Project Homeless Connect Marin OVERVIEW PREPARED BY MARINLINK JANUARY 8, 2008 Project Homeless Connect - Marin Marin County’s first Project Homeless Connect was held on December 5, 2007 at the First Presbyterian Church in San Rafael This was a pilot project, to determine the usefulness of this type of event to Marin’s homeless community and Marin’s service providers The Meaning and Purpose of Marin Connect in San Rafael To acknowledge, affirm, and appreciate that all persons, no matter their disadvantage, are born free and equal in dignity and rights, and are treated in the spirit of brotherhood and sisterhood. To provide homeless and near-homeless individuals and families with a special place where the entire community can embrace them so they can find opportunities for growth and healing with the immediate services they need and ask for. To awaken the gentle giant of goodness in the heart of volunteers in building and expressing a caring community so that all members, looking into the eyes of others, especially the homeless and poor, can see themselves. WRITTEN BY Cyr Miller, San Rafael City Council, after visiting the 18th PHC in San Francisco Thirty Two service organizations, agencies and departments participated in the event: • • • • Catholic Charities United Way of the Bay Area Center for Volunteer and Non Profit Leadership (CVNL) City of San Rafael • Police Department • Al Boro, Mayor, Council Members: Cyr Miller and Greg Brockbank • Community Development Department • Fire Department Community Action Marin (CAM) CAM-Marin Jobs and Careers • • • County of Marin Supervisors Susan Adams, Steve Kinsey Department of Motor Vehicles Image for Success • • • • • Family Service Agency Friends of the San Rafael Library Helen Vine Detox Center Homeward Bound of Marin Legal Aid of Marin • • • • Community Institute for Psychotherapy Jewish Family & Children's Services County of Marin: Health and Human Services • Dental • Public Assistance • Veterans Affairs • Health Services • Mental Health: • Employment • • • • • Marin Housing Authority MarinLink Ritter Center St. Vincent de Paul Society of Marin Warm Wishes 81 volunteers supported the services providers at the event: 48 volunteers from the general community were check-in workers, greeters, guides, service area managers, translators, etc. 27 volunteer attorneys from the legal community provided legal advice and counseling 6 St. Vincent’s Homeless Helpdesk volunteers supported this service area Services were organized into the 11 primary service areas: General Assistance Veterans Affairs DMV - California ID (including Check In Check Out Van to DMV) Shelter Housing Substance Use Employment Health Screening Dental Legal Mental Health Homeless Help Desk GIVE AWAYS Soup and Sandwiches Books Winter Coats Backpacks with socks, etc. Pianist Marcia Miget provided music Approximately 200 homeless or near-homeless attended the event 176 Check-In Forms were completed, with an additional 25 attendees who chose not to complete the form The estimated 200 attendees is 18% of the 1,125 Marin homeless counted in January, 2007 The event had been planned for between 50 and 100 attendees The Housing area saw the most people; dental, with only one chair, was the most restricted Specific Outcomes included the following: 5 people entered shelter that night 1 person entered a substance use program the next day Over 30 people were identified with health issues and referred to a health care clinic 10 individuals treated for dental problems 3 individuals decided to return home and were given bus tickets for home 35 applications for housing completed with another 50 handed out 13 individuals obtained California IDs 7 people completed employment applications 15 individuals completed applications for public assistance; over 40 low-income DMV letters given out 8 people scheduled for follow up with mental health programs 13 people to be followed up for Veterans benefits 18 individuals met with the Public Defender; 27 others counseled on a variety of legal issues 165 received backpacks; over 100 warm coats given out; 70 books were taken, over 200 meals served The response to the event from the 123 attendees who completed the check out questionnaire was overwhelmingly positive: 120, or 97%, said the event was helpful (1 person felt the handout was not large enough, 2 indicated too much follow up was needed) 115, or 93%, said they would come to another such event (several felt they had received what they needed and would “hopefully not need to attend again”). Positive Comments: It is helping a lot of people Everything good Very! Helpful Everyone is very helpful and kind; every one attended me very fast Helps a lot I will recommend it highly – very helpful For sure will come to another event Really appreciate bus tickets At the follow-up meeting held December 11th, the service providers were also overwhelmingly in favor of holding more Project Homeless Connect Events Service providers found it very helpful to “Get out of the office” and meet the homeless directly Work together with other service providers Explore new ways to do things Many had ideas and suggestions for improving services and the event in general More health care services with better follow up, more translators, temporary employment on site, kids area, internet area, better forms, volunteer training, etc. Service providers thought they could support 3-4 Project Homeless Connect events a year A volunteer survey indicates that the volunteers found the event very meaningful. Below are a few of the responses to the question: “Please describe the highlight of your experience” I was concerned at first before the day began as I was unsure of how I would feel with the people who came in and yet, I found it very easy to communicate with individuals and I was very comfortable with each person as well. I felt a great sense of satisfaction as I was able to direct individuals to essential services. At one point during the day I found myself crying because I had such strong feelings for each person that came in, but I realized that I was providing a great service and that each person would receive help. I was able to connect with a lady who was once a professional banker and is now sick and homeless. It felt good to be able to guide her through from health screening, to dental, to legal, to housing, employment etc and to bring her snacks and lunch. I wish I could have done more, but that was a good thing to do then. One Hispanic couple in particular, who spoke almost no English, (and had a severely retarded child) was able to get most of the services available there, including vaccines shots badly needed. They were very grateful and that felt very rewarding. Next Steps: Other cities are queuing up to host future events in their communities. HHS has committed $10,000 for this next event; MarinLink will again be the lead agency in organizing the event. Most of the same agencies will be involved, building on the strong foundation that was developed in the first event. See you Next Time!
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