Event connects homeless, low-income to services
EVERETT - They came from all corners of Snohomish County to get their needs met.
More than 1,000 people were served at last week’s Project Homeless Connect, a one-stop site for low-income and homeless people to get medical, housing and pet care.
Pet care and housing needs topped the list for many people, event spokeswoman Suzanne Pate of the Snohomish Health District said. Others got medical checkups, social services information, haircuts and pedicures.
For people like Chad Hanson, the event gave him exactly what he needed as he rebuilds his life.
Hanson was arrested for pawning a lawnmower he bought years ago, which he said he didn’t know was stolen. He got out of jail 10 days before Project Homeless Connect, which happened Wednesday, July 11 at Cascade High School in Everett.
As a former small business owner, the arrest obliterated Hanson’s income and life. He currently stays at the Everett Gospel Mission Men’s Shelter. Project Homeless Connect was his “best opportunity since getting out of jail” to put his life back together, he said. He got a bus pass and a state identification card at the event.
“Without that ID and bus pass, I couldn’t go to the doctor appointment I have on Friday,” Hanson said.
The lines at the Everett Animal Shelter’s pet care clinic lasted two hours long at the event.
Janice Parker of Lynnwood had no complaints. Her husky dog Azriel needed a checkup.
The cost of living is pinching Parker’s budget. Because pet food costs money, Azriel is fed a mix of pet food and food from the fridge.
“Between gas and food, and stuff with (her son), money goes really fast,” Parker said. Her son was there to get help with a dislocated shoulder.
For some pets, it could be the only time they see a veterinarian, said Anna Dykas, a veterinarian’s assistant with the pet adoption organization NOAH in Stanwood.
The clinic usually sees the same people come every year with their pets, Everett Animal Shelter manager Shannon Delgado said.
More than 50 people got medical checkups put on by the Community Health Clinic of Snohomish County. People received referrals for any medical findings.
Since the start of the Great Recession in 2008, the number of low-income clients went up by the thousands. The clinic saw 40,000 people last year, up from 30,000 in 2009, clinic spokeswoman LuAnne Kay said.
“What we are really seeing are a lot more chronic conditions” among the homeless population such as high blood pressure and diabetes, Kay said. “Chronic conditions are not being taken care of because they can’t find someone who’ll take them” at low cost.
More than 90 people received HIV tests from the Evergreen AIDS Foundation and the Snohomish Health District. Some people said they never have received one. Numerous others got free adult whooping cough vaccines from the district. Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is at epidemic levels in this state.
People also got haircuts and pedicures at the event.
Most people told hair stylist Jennifer Reid that their last haircut was a year ago, she said. Reid, who also works for Housing Hope, manned her station the entire event.
Mother and daughter Geneva Marie Rocco and Dee Dee Rocco got haircuts there, as did Dee Dee’s two boys. Dee Dee’s son Brandon, 4, squirmed throughout his haircut.
Geneva Marie, 65, of Snohomish is rebuilding her life. After being laid off from her job as a sheet metal fabricator, she finally found a part-time janitorial job and lives in transitional housing. Last year, Geneva Marie lived at the Everett Gospel Mission Women’s Shelter.
“I feel a lot more comfortable having a job,” Geneva Marie said. She’s excited to be getting an apartment in Lake Stevens soon.
Dee Dee, who lives in Section 8 housing in Everett, got her eye care taken care of and is set to get new glasses through a Lions Club program. Her current pair is held together with electrical tape and bobby pins.
She appreciated the one-stop shopping Project Homeless Connect offers.
“Besides having two very busy boys, I don’t have a vehicle,” Dee Dee said. “This project is a Godsend.”
There were long lines of people looking for shelter from the YWCA, Housing Hope and other groups. Housing Hope, for example, provided 144 households with housing information, Pate said.
The YWCA houses 120 single moms at sites in Lynnwood, Monroe and Everett. It can take up to 48 months for someone to find a place to live, family advocate Kristina Doherty said.
The YWCA put 30 people on their housing waitlist, but it had to redirect almost as many people who were ineligible.
Each person at Project Homeless Connect received a lunch of stir-fry vegetables and about 670 received backpacks filled with toiletries.
The number of backpacks was down from last year, but it was a good effort, YWCA regional manager Mary Anne Dillon said.
“Next year, we really have to get more backpacks,” Dillon said. Most nonprofits are tapped out.
Jim Gregoire, who oversaw the kitchen, said this is just one good meal. The clients were served like they were in a restaurant.
“The ideal would be to serve none because then there wouldn’t be a need,” Gregoire said.
By the numbers:
• More than 1,000 people registered. More might have come in.
• Approximately 1,150 meals were served.
• More than 670 bags and backpacks of toiletries were distributed.
• 130 people received foot care.
• 127 pets received basic care.
• 102 people received dental care.
• Approximately 400 volunteers came, and more than 60 organizations provided booths and services.
Courtesy: Suzanne Pate/Project Homeless Connect