Nearly 150 persons attended St. Louis City Department of Human Services (Homeless Services Division) and St. Louis City Continuum of Care for Ending Homelessness (CoC) 6th Annual National Project Homeless Connect (PHC) event on Saturday, December 11, 2010 at Grace Hill Water Tower Auditorium and Neighborhood Center.
National Project Homeless Connect is part of a nationwide initiative to engage the public in developing innovative solutions to homelessness. Project Homeless Connect links homeless individuals to services that include enrollment in mainstream services such as social security and veterans benefits, legal services, employment assistance, substance abuse and mental health counseling, health related services, and access to e-mail and long distance phone calls, chiropractic services, and social services. These services are coordinated in a centralized location with the ultimate goal of housing and self-sufficiency.
This event focused on providing permanent supportive housing for those who qualified; immediate referral to emergency shelter and health care for chronically homeless people. 45 units of permanent supportive housing for chronically homeless people were available via the St. Louis City and County’s Shelter Plus Care (S+C) Programs, provided by the Missouri Department of Mental Health. Also, as the result of receiving $8.4 million in funding from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), 32 homeless people had the potential to be housed through the Rapid Re-housing Program portion of the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-housing Program (HPRP).
“PHC gives people and organizations who have never been involved in homelessness before a way to make a difference in their community; this was by far the most rewarding PHC yet,” said Antonio Byrd, Project Homeless Connect Regional Coordinator.
This year the services participants utilized the most were Housing/Shelter, Medical Services, Employment Services, and United Way 2-1-1 referral services. Over 50 vendors provided an array of other services; supported by over 100 volunteers. Project Homeless Connect builds upon other initiatives the City of St. Louis sponsors each year to connect homeless individuals with supportive services and housing. Continued collaboration with Madison and St. Clair Counties in Illinois helped facilitate very successful PHC events in the St. Louis Metropolitan Area.