“Project Homeless Connect” by the Numbers

Mayor Domenic Sarno’s office yesterday released some stats from “Project Homeless Connect,” held Tuesday at the MassMutual Center, where homeless people were invited to meet with representatives from various service agencies and to partake of free services offered by local businesses.

According to the mayor’s office, about 1,000 homeless people came to the event, which was staffed by 600 volunteers and 80 “vendors,” including assistance agencies, government departments and landlords.

By day’s end, the report said, 13 attendees had found housing; at least 10 more had begun the process and were expected to have housing by the end of this week. In addition, 576 people completed applications for Section 8 or public housing; 85 to 90 applied for “sober housing programs”; and another 20 for other housing programs.

Twenty-five people applied for Social Security cards; 31 applied for food stamps. Twenty received information about fuel assistance programs, and 82 received help with tax issues. Twenty-two homeless vets applied for veterans’ benefits.

Almost 400 people obtained state ID cards (triple the number that did at last year’s event, according to mayoral spokesman Tom Walsh); 221 ordered birth certificates; and eight registered to vote. Two went to court to address outstanding warrants, including a homeless vet who was then able to get back a suspended driver’s license.

Seventy-six people applied for insurance through MassHealth. Forty-one got health exams at the event, and 225 received dental screenings. Two went into detox programs. Others had mental health screenings (or made appointments to do so); were screened for health problems like high blood sugar, hypertension and skin cancer; or had HIV or TB tests. Forty-five people got eye exams, 244 received reading glasses, and 290 got sunglasses.

After the public housing assistance, the most popular service that day? Free haircuts (525 attendees took advantage). Another 200 received free bus tickets.

Walsh, relaying figures from the city’s Housing Department, said this year’s Project Homeless Connect cost $22,000. While MassMutual donated the space for the event, set-up and insurance cost $6,600. Another $5,500 was spent on 750 backpacks, which were given to attendees, and t-shirts for the roughly 700 volunteers. The money also went to pay for the cost of state IDs and birth certificates.

The event was sponsored by a long list of local businesses, foundations, churches, charities and individuals, either through cash contributions or in-kind services. The city kicked in $6,000 of the cost.

“The event participants can take comfort in knowing that they helped to improve the quality of life for many thankful service recipients,” Sarno said in the announcement.

Author: On Springfield

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