Project Homeless Connect Dec. 7

Communications Director

Kristin Farley
(865) 215-2589

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Project Homeless Connect Dec. 7

Posted: 12/03/2007
 Project Homeless Connect is a one-day event designed to connect homeless people with the resources that can help lead them to housing and self-sufficiency.

It happens Friday, Dec. 7, at the Knoxville Convention and Exhibition Center. Anyone who is homeless is invited to the event. It runs from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the exhibition center beneath the Holiday Inn at World's Fair Park.

Medical, dental and vision care services will be available. So will many other services, including mental health counseling, legal assistance and information on housing. This is the third annual Project Homeless Connect. It is sponsored by Knoxville and Knox County in partnership with Remote Area Medical, and is an important way every year to engage the community in supporting the city and county's Ten-Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness.While food, coats and various benefits will be available on Friday the goal of the event is not just to feed and clothe the homeless and make their lives on the street a little easier.

 Instead the aim of Project Homeless Connect is to assemble the entire homeless assistance community - ranging from government agencies, to faith-based and non-profit organizations, churches and individual volunteers - at the same time and place to bring our homeless neighbors into contact with services that could help get them off the streets.

"This effort brings all the organizations that help the homeless together under one roof," said Mayor Bill Haslam, "to collectively try and find a way to put a roof over the heads of as many of these folks as we can."Jon Lawler, director of the Office of the Ten-Year Plan, said, "Project Homeless Connect is a significant event for our office because it helps to bring people in our community together around our common purpose: to stop simply managing homelessness and really get after the work of ending it.

"During the 2006 event, for example, some 461 volunteers and professionals worked with about 500 homeless clients.As a result two people were placed into housing at Samaritan Place, six signed leases for apartments and there were another 105 housing referrals - many of which led to housing for previously homeless individuals. Also there were a total of 262 medical visits, with treatment given by staff and volunteers with Remote Area Medical and the University of Tennessee College of Nursing including skin, vision, and blood glucose checks among other treatments.

Nearly 70 people also received dental care.In addition there were 39 employment referrals, more than 50 mental health screenings and appointments arranged and 94 calls were made to family and friends."It's obvious from the success of last year's event that Project Homeless Connect is filling a real need," Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale said. "This event puts plans into action where homeless individuals can receive real services, and hopefully find a home."

Michael Dunthorn, a community development project manager with the city said sponsors hope the numbers who are helped and end up housed rise this year. "It's because of something they have access to that day that gets them housed," said Dunthorn. "Everything is in one place. Our goal is to do it better each time."

He said Knoxville and Knox County are grateful to Remote Area Medical, which is providing all the setup and materials for the medical and dental practitioners.To find out more about Project Homeless Connect, or to volunteer to help that day, please call Mike Dunthorn, project manager for the Knoxville/Knox County Ten-Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness.