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Numbers down at Project Homeless Connect

Date: 9/20/2010

Sept. 20, 2010

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD -- Although the statistical results of the fourth annual Project Homeless Connect does not reveal whether or not the recession has increased the number of homeless people in the city, Director of Housing Geraldine McCafferty said this year's turnout was not as large as last year.

In 2009, there were about 1,000 people at the event, while this year there were about 750 people who sought services at the MassMutual Center on Sept. 15.

Project Homeless Connect brought together over 70 agencies offering services to homeless people that ranged from job and housing searches to health services.

McCafferty said the city performs an annual census of homeless people every January. She added the 2010 census was less than the 2009.

Pointing to a pile of intake papers McCafferty told Reminder Publications there were many people who called themselves homeless because they were temporarily staying with family or friends. Another group of intake papers denoted the number of people who were homeless and not staying in a shelter.

McCafferty said the city has been successful through its Housing First plan in finding housing for the recently homeless before they go to a shelter and in creating long-term housing solutions for those who are in shelters.

The events fell on the United Way's annual Day of Caring volunteer effort, something McCafferty had tried to arrange for a number of years. She said 150 volunteers from areas businesses worked at the event helping people find the help they need.

The results of the event are as follows:

&bull An estimated 750 guests, of which about 25 percent are actually homeless at the present time;

&bull More than 300 volunteers, 150 of which were participating in the United Way Day of Caring;

&bull 25 people housed;

&bull 587 people received housing triage counseling from trained housing counselors;

&bull 503 completed applications for public and Section 8 housing;

&bull 307 people obtained Massachusetts IDs;

&bull 381 people ordered birth certificates;

&bull 230 people obtained advocacy and advice about consumer, legal and tax issues;

&bull 166 people applied for MassHealth;

&bull 50 people obtained health exams/direct medical care, and 25 people made follow-up medical appointments;

&bull 1 person transported to the emergency room;

&bull 49 people received foot care;

&bull 20 people obtained mental health screens, and 13 mental health appointments were made;

&bull 5 people were admitted to detoxification programs;

&bull 192 blood sugar screens completed;

&bull 94 hypertension screenings completed;

&bull 113 dental screenings completed;

&bull 25 tuberculosis tests completed;

&bull 317 pairs of reading glasses distributed;

&bull 40 people received resume assistance;

&bull 82 women received business suits for job interviews;

&bull 17 applications for Social Security Administration;

&bull 28 people applied for food stamps;

&bull 19 people completed applications for veteran's benefits;

and 95 accessed veteran's services, with 26 follow-up appointments made.

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