The path out of homelessness can be long and full of pitfalls. If you’re unemployed, you might not have a phone or any means of getting messages from job prospects. Or you might have an interview set up, but you’re a change of clothes and a haircut short of a successful one. Or you might have landed a job but can’t afford a way to get there reliably.
Project Connect launched to provide an integrated system of care to better tackle the roots of homelessness, bringing together many of the services and necessities people need when they’re trying to get back on their feet.
“Hundreds of individuals, corporations, nonprofits, and government agencies provide … services such as dental care, eyeglasses, family support, food, HIV testing, housing, hygiene products, medical care, mental health services, substance abuse treatment, SSI benefits, legal advice, California identification cards, voice mail, employment counseling, job placement, wheelchair repair, veterinary services, and more,” according to their website.
Conventional wisdom often pegs the lack of housing on a lack of will or initiative, or a desire to sleep on cold and perilous streets. But more often, the barriers are practical, numerous, and mundane.
Second Harvest contributes to the project’s efforts by connecting people with food they need to get by. After all, no one can learn a new skill or take care of a family member or do nearly anything in life when they lack the nutrition and energy that come with consistent access to food.
Our outreach staff talked with many people at the July 18 Connect event, hosted by Santa Cruz Bible Church–homeless individuals like Sam, who can’t afford rent in Santa Cruz and was forced to move into his van. We told him how CalFresh could help him buy basic foods, but he didn’t think he qualified. A few questions later, we learned that he did, so we put him on the phone with the County and got him signed up on the spot. Other organizations connected him with other basic needs.
“When you have enough to eat, it’s easy to forget how debilitating it is to skip meals or eat only cheap junk food,” said Joel Campos, Director of Community Outreach at Second Harvest. “Project Connect puts empowering resources in reach of people who need them so much, and who are ready to do so much in life, if they have the opportunity.”
Sam didn’t magically obtain housing on Tuesday, but thanks to Project Connect, he eliminated some of the pernicious barriers in his way. Now, he’ll have more time, energy, and resources to put his initiative to work to obtain that other basic necessity–a roof over his head.
Click here to learn how to get involved with Project Connect.