Second Homeless Connect in the works

Based on the success of last year’s Project Homeless Connect, a group of caring volunteers are meeting to organize a second event to provide a one-stop venue for information on housing, services, and hospitality at a convenient location. According to Regina Theisen, Alaska Health & Social Services, Project Homeless Connect (PHC) is a one-day, one-stop event to provide housing, services, and hospitality in a convenient one-stop model directly to people experiencing homelessness. “It is a way to bring service providers, government agencies, and the general community together to address a problem that affects everyone. P.H.C. is a national event that takes place in cities of all sizes,” she said. Kenai’s second annual Project Homeless Connect event is scheduled for Wednesday, January 30th from 9:00am to 4:00pm at the Kenai Merit Inn. The Central Kenai Peninsula Continuum of Care along with People Promoting Wellness are working together to coordinate this year’s event. “It is really a collaborative effort between service providers, government agencies, private sector and the general community. While the work group called Homeless Action Committee is providing the infrastructure for the event, no one entity can do this alone. The success of the events depends on the willingness of agencies, organizations and individuals to step up and help. The entire community is affected by homelessness and it is only the entire community that can end homelessness,” said Theisen.

“Last year’s success was more than we could have imagined,” commented Marti Slater of Love Inc. in an interview. “The support from the community was marvelous and the homeless and near homeless learned of services and ways to help themselves that they may never have known about and meet providers face to face who were able to give them one on one contact.” Lori Engler of Independent Living added, “If you understand homelessness you realize that it could be anyone of us tomorrow that’s why we volunteer to make this event a one stop shop to network with the services or the boot straps if you will that they can pull themselves up with. Project Homeless Connect is about real solutions to a complex problem that results in a stronger community. Our mission is to bring together all sectors of the community to be active members in reducing and preventing homelessness. This model has been used by over a hundred communities and they all report success. Individuals experiencing homelessness are being connected to services quicker, gaining housing, and experiencing an increase in overall quality of life,” said Engler. To sign up as a vendor contact Lori Engler at 262-6333.

Volunteers are need and if you are interested in offering services such as haircuts or clothing or assisting in the event contact Amber Delago at 335-7324. Everyone is also encouraged to help get the word out to those who are homeless or near homeless about the event. Though Project Homeless Connect is a one day event, the partnership between the Kenai Peninsula Continuum of Care and People Promoting Wellness has evolved into an ongoing work group called the Homeless Action Committee whose goals are to continue collaborative efforts on addressing homelessness and to work with agencies and individuals to address homeless issues and develop a picture of homelessness on the Central Peninsula.