For the third year in a row, local organizations will join forces offering on-site and off-site resources to combat homelessness in the Jefferson City community.
Project Homeless Connect, slated for Oct. 20, is a nationwide model adopted by cities across the country that works to reduce barriers for people facing homelessness or eviction.
"It's more than a resource fair; it's an in-depth service provision we can offer to the community," Common Ground Executive Director Kristen Hilty said. "It's one of the best things I've been a part of since I've been in Jefferson City because we have so many different people coming together to put this on."
Common Ground is a local nonprofit that focuses on addressing the needs of clients in poverty through relationships with community-based partners and services.
More than 50 service providers will participate in this year's event.
Project Homeless Connect will offer individuals an opportunity to get state identification cards, birth certificates, dental services, haircuts, access to Medicaid and food stamps, and hot showers, as well as services geared toward substance abuse and mental health counseling.
Through a collaboration among JCMG Footcare, Community Health Center, Bodenhamer Eye Consultants and the Missouri Department of Mental Health, new services like podiatry, eye exams and glasses, and assessments of vulnerability for the potential of being placed in permanent housing will be available.
Most medical services will be conducted off-site, allowing people to get the in-depth care they need, Hilty said. Transportation will be provided.
The Missouri Balance of State Point in Time Count in 2016 identified 69 people in Cole County as homeless — 441 people across Region Five, which accounts for all of Cole County and 15 surrounding counties.
Project Homeless Connect is designed primarily for people experiencing homelessness, but services also are open to those who are doubled up or uninsured.
Through the Region Five Balance of State Coordinated Entry System, individuals will be assessed and placed on a list looked at by agencies across 16 counties, ranking the individuals and placing them in permanent housing as resources become available, Hilty explained.
It's a standard way other communities treat homelessness, and participation is required for organizations that receive funding from the Housing and Urban Development, she said.
"One of the coolest parts of Project Homeless Connect, we believe, is the volunteer and participant interaction," Hilty said. "Our goal is to have enough volunteers for every single individual who comes through the door to be paired one on one with a tour guide."
The event is designed so those community volunteers can talk to people experiencing homelessness and really get to know their situation, she added.
Project Homeless Connect is scheduled 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Oct. 20 in 300 block of East Capitol Avenue in Jefferson City.
Those interested in volunteering can sign up on the Project Homeless Connect Facebook Page or by emailing the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.