Free ride from homelessness to home

Help will be just a free bus ride away Thursday, Jan. 28, for people who are or may become homeless.

Clallam County's Project Homeless Connect, from 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. at the Vern Burton Center, Fourth and Peabody streets in Port Angeles, will feature all the community resources that could help local people who are homeless end their homelessness.

People who are worried about losing their housing and those who are in housing assistance programs also will benefit from the exposition.

"Some people who walk in homeless should have housing by the end of the day," said event co-chairman Cindy Burdine, Serenity House of Clallam County deputy director for family services.

Home on the spot

The county Housing Authority, Serenity House's Housing Resource Centers and Olympic Community Action won't just give out information.

"The HRCs expect to make some actual housing placements," Burdine said.

Clallam Transit will make it easy to get there.

"Just board any bus on the last Thursday of this month and say you are going to Vern Burton," said event co-chairman Jill Dole, of Clallam County Health and Human Services. "The ride will be free."

Not just the ride -

everything at the event will be free.

Many other services

Among the services and items offered are haircuts, warm clothing, driver's licenses and identification cards, tribal health and financial services, work clothing, toiletries, medical screenings and needs assessments, assistance in finding work, immunizations against tetanus, diphtheria, hepatitis and seasonal and H1N1 influenzas, eye exams, nondiabetic foot care, chair massages, acupuncture, dental assessments and X-rays.

Also available will be mental health assessments, triage for chemical dependency and mental health issues, legal assistance, child care and children's activities, hot meals and a salad bar, Social Security, DSHS, Peninsula College, U.S. Census, county Veterans Assistance, Senior Information and Assistance, Literacy Council, Healthy Families and Serenity House Youth Services assistance, pet vaccinations, mini-veterinary exams, pet food and equipment.

Volunteers step up

"Volunteers have really stepped up to help," Burdine said. "Now we need everyone's help to get the word out to people who are homeless, have been homeless or are worried about becoming homeless to come connect with real help."

Clallam County's Homelessness Task Force, sponsor of the expo, chose the fourth Thursday in January to coincide with the annual federally designated Point-In-Time Count of homeless people.

For more information, call 565-2608 or 452-7224 or visit the Clallam County Project Homeless Connect page on Facebook.

Meanwhile, it's time

for the homeless count

Shelter providers, current and formerly homeless individuals and other volunteers will take to the streets Thursday, Jan. 28, to count the number of homeless individuals and families in Clallam County.

Households will be anonymously surveyed and asked questions about where they stayed the previous night, whether on the streets, in emergency shelter, temporarily with friends or in other nonpermanent settings. The survey also asks their current needs and what contributed to their homelessness.

The count coincides with the first Homeless Connect at the Vern Burton Center from 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Homeless households will be directed there to be connected immediately with local resources to help them access needed housing assistance and services.

The Point-in-Time count is done concurrently in all counties in Washington. Survey information is used to determine the extent of homelessness and what housing assistance and services are needed.

In 2006, Clallam County adopted a 10-year plan to end homelessness, which parallels the state's plan to reduce homelessness by 50 percent by 2016.

"Our local plan has been recognized at the state and national level of its effectiveness in building capacity and resources for the homeless," said Kathy Wahto, executive director of Serenity House of Clallam County.

"I believe we are so effective because of this community's willingness to reach out, listen and respond to their needs."

For more information, call Serenity House of Clallam County at 452-7224 or West End Outreach Services at 360-374-6177.

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