January 30, 2019
Project Homeless Connect – Downtown San Diego Serves 905 San Diegans Experiencing Homelessness
SAN DIEGO, CA – Finding work and a place to call home for herself and her two children was the focus today for Juana, one of the 905 San Diegans experiencing homelessness who were served at the 13th Project Homeless Connect – Downtown San Diego.
“Emotionally, the kids are changing. My kids complain about moving all the time,” said Juana, who has a 12-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter. “A therapist recommended me and my kids need medication. No, my kids need a home. I need to work. That is therapy for me.”
Project Homeless Connect is a one-day resource fair that provides access to a variety of services for San Diegans experiencing homelessness like Juana—who has alternated between living in a shelter and on the streets for the past year after becoming homeless because of domestic violence.
“It’s a safe, inviting place with one goal—helping people,” said Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer, who visited with attendees, service providers and volunteers at today’s event. “This represents the best of our community coming together. It’s a lot of work to do. In San Diego, we really are pushing the envelope of more housing, more services, and taking bold leadership action to help people, to get people off the streets. That’s what Project Homeless Connect is all about.”
Approximately 140 volunteers assisted attendees at the event, which included approximately 100 service provider booths.
“Project Homeless Connect is an important, critical annual event where we bring our unsheltered residents together with the organizations to provide the services they need. I want to thank the hundred service providers that are here today, as well as all of the volunteers and all San Diegans who donated time and resources to make this event happen,” said Council President Georgette Gómez, Honorary Co-Chair of this year’s Project Homeless Connect.
This is the ninth consecutive time that the San Diego Housing Commission (SDHC) served as the event’s lead organizer, with major organizing partners the City of San Diego, Interfaith Shelter Network, Family Health Centers of San Diego, and Father Joe’s Villages.
“It truly is a one-stop shop. If you need eye exams, dental screenings, health care, behavioral health or mental health care, if you need that housing connection opportunity, if you need pet care, additional services—it’s all here under one roof,” said Councilmember Chris Ward, Honorary Co-Chair of this year’s Project Homeless Connect.
Snacks and a warm meal also were provided to the San Diegans experiencing homelessness who attended Project Homeless Connect.
“A lot of people are sitting down and eating. That’s food for the soul. I hope to just be able to connect people even more with the services that they are in need of on a more regular basis. I know it’s hard with our homeless brothers and sisters because there’s not always a safe place to make contacts. So this is very, very important,” said Councilmember Monica Montgomery, who also visited Project Homeless Connect today.
Attendees were able to find out if they are already in the regional Coordinated Entry System, an essential step to identify appropriate housing options and potential referrals to housing. If they were in the system, they were referred to service providers on-site. If they were not in the system, they were referred to the Regional Task Force on the Homeless for assistance to be added to the system.
In addition, staff from the programs of HOUSING FIRST – SAN DIEGO, SDHC’s homelessness action plan, were on hand to answer questions and provide important information about how to connect with the regional Coordinated Entry System.
Additional services available at Project Homeless Connect included: flu shots; haircuts; pet care; identification cards from the California Department of Motor Vehicles; benefits assistance from the Social Security Administration; and legal aid. This year, for the first time, the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office Victim Services Division also was on-site to provide information about domestic violence and human trafficking
“I’m particularly touched by the breadth of service that we have here. We’re really thinking about this population in a holistic way and a way that takes into consideration the many facets of being a human, of living out here in San Diego, particularly living on the streets, and dealing with myriad problems that reflect the challenges of that. And it looks like we’ve got all of those different factors covered,” SDHC Chair of the Board Stefanie Benvenuto said.
A check-in station for attendees’ personal belongings also was offered this year to help make it easier to navigate through the event.
For people like Joey, a 50-year-old Navy Veteran who served in Desert Storm, today’s event meant finally getting something many take for granted: a pair of shoes that fit.
“A good walking pair of shoes like this feel so good,” Joey said. “I’ve lost everything, you know. The shoes, if they don’t fit, there on the street, it’s the only thing you’ve got. Tie them laces up tight.”
Shoes were available to choose from today because of donations from the community, including 163 pairs from the nonprofit HavASole and 238 pairs collected through an employee donation drive at SDHC.
Project Homeless Connect also is meaningful for volunteers who donated time and services at the event.
“I think it’s fantastic, trying to help people get back on their feet and transition off the streets, and just being of service in the community is a very big thing,” said Dr. Jennifer Lonsky of Banfield Pet Hospital, who was part of a group providing vaccines, exams and tests for the pets accompanying their owners experiencing homelessness.
Beyond the immediate services provided at Project Homeless Connect today, the event also provided a break from the day-to-day hardships of homelessness and, for some, offered inspiration.
“I feel pretty good. Definitely wasn’t expecting all that to be available. I’m impressed,” said Dylan, a three-month resident of one of the City of San Diego’s Temporary Bridge shelters, after receiving a dental cleaning. “For a brief moment there, I wasn’t homeless. Definitely want to say thank you to every single person who put this together.”
Based on self-reported information provided as part of a voluntary survey as attendees checked in for Project Homeless Connect today:
- 57.5 percent were male and 41.8 percent were female (two individuals identified as transgender)
- 45.9 percent were age 55 and older and 23.8 percent were age 45 to 54
- 12.8 percent were Veterans
- 84.6 percent were single individuals; 7.5 percent were single parents; and 2.9 percent were in two-parent families
- 62.7 percent have been homeless more than one year; 11.6 percent have been homeless for six months to one year; and 15.8 percent have been homeless less than six months.
- 46.9 percent were white; 28.3 percent were black or African-American; and 14.3 percent did not identify with any race
For more information about SDHC, visit www.sdhc.org.
Scott Marshall, Vice President of Communications