Updated: Apr 11, 2019
Homeless people in need of aid were offered free services at this month’s Homeless Connect Day.
By Gabriel Arizon, Co-Editor-in-Chief
Homeless and those with significant financial troubles gathered in Valley College last Thursday to seek free aid and clothing through Homeless Connect Day.
On Sept. 20 in Monarch Hall, Valley hosted Homeless Connect Day, a monthly event that brings together non-profit organizations and agencies that provide free assistance to the homeless. At least 34 organizations were present, ranging from Los Angeles Family Housing, Healthy People in Healthy Communities, the Legal Aid Foundation of LA, Operation Blankets of Love and Sisters on the Streets.
Attendees were provided with information about housing, legal aid, sexual and mental health, employment and voting. In addition, attendees were able to receive free vaccines for Hepatitis A, pet food, lunches, backpacks, clothing, sexual health screenings and purses.
“If this happened all the time, if this was happening every day all over the city, then half of the problems would be over,” said Valley student David Elam, who has been looking for a new apartment. “Landlords would be here helping the homeless people, homeless would be meeting landlords, doctors would be meeting patients. Everything would work.”
Empowered Gifts, a non-profit organization that serves economically disadvantaged women and girls, provides mentoring and aid in finding jobs, though their base objective is giving out purses. “The purses that I give them is to uplift them and give them back dignity,” Chief Executive Officer Candy Williams said. “For us, women and purses are inseparable twins. It’s where we keep all of our personal everything. It’s our life.”
Homeless Connect Day is a collaboration between the LA County, the City of LA, the state of California and non-profit organizations. It takes place at different locations each month, enabling those free resources to reach as many people as possible.
“It’s important to provide assistance where they are, someplace they can get to make it accessible,” said Josephine Hernandez, business development coordinator at Health Advocates. “They all don’t like to walk into a high-rise [building] and ask for help.”
“People need to know that these services are available, so they know they aren’t alone,” said volunteer Jeff Yeager.
According to figures released by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority in 2018, there are 52,765 homeless in the Los Angeles County, with 7,738 residing in the San Fernando Valley.
According to a 2017 report by the Los Angeles Community College District, more than 18 percent of student respondents are homeless and more than 60 percent experience food insecurity.
The next Homeless Connect Day will take place in Eagle Rock on Oct. 4 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, contact Northeast Regional Coordinator Monica Alcaraz at firstname.lastname@example.org.