For the sixth consecutive year, the Clatsop County’s homeless and near-homeless population are invited to an event at the Seaside Civic and Convention Center to receive services ranging from free haircuts to housing assistance.
The sixth annual Project Homeless Connect Jessica Maclay Memorial will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 29 at the convention center.
Project Homeless Connect, organized by the Clatsop Community Action, will feature services from at least 42 nonprofit, governmental and faith-based agencies.
The one-day, one-stop event will offer medical screenings, hearing testing, eye exams, immunizations, haircuts, personal care items, clothing vouchers and a hot meal. In addition, many assistance services will be available, including housing, mail service, food stamps, identification, Social Security, employment, education and legal aid.
“The whole focus is to link people up to services and we only have five hours to do it. All the key agencies will be there,” Tony DeGoede, Clatsop Community Action staff member, said.
DeGoede said the annual event helps an average of about 200 homeless individuals, which is still a fraction of the overall population. In 2014, Clatsop County recorded 638 homeless families and 1,038 individuals. Records show 321 individuals were under the age of 18.
Homelessness includes people living with others due to losing their own housing and are “doubled up,” which has become more common among the county’s youth, according to the CCA.
DeGoede said he hopes to see more homeless take advantage of the event this year.
About 150 volunteers will be helping out during the event and prior to the event by handing out fliers to the homeless. The annual program has become a communitywide effort, DeGoede said.
“In this community, we have embraced this program. We have made it very realistic to do,” DeGoede said. “Our main goal is to help the homeless.”
Sunset Empire Transportation District will offer a “Ridership Appreciation Day” Jan. 29 during Project Homeless Connect. All bus services in Clatsop County will be free to all riders for the entire day.
Clatsop County’s Project Homeless Connect is put on each year in honor of Jessica MacLay, the originator and organizer the first two years, who died in 2011 from injuries suffered in a fatal car accident. The event has since been named in her memory.
Project Homeless Connect, founded in San Francisco, began Dec. 8, 2005, in 26 cities across the country. Each event varies in size, content and frequency, but has the same goals.
“We are just trying to link people up to services to better their situation,” DeGoede said.