Hinesville will host the third annual Project Homeless Connect from noon-2 p.m. Saturday at Mount Zion Community Center, 1370 Shaw Road, next to Lyman Hall Elementary School.
Daisy Jones, Hinesville’s Homeless Prevention Program coordinator, said the free, one-day, one-stop-shopping opportunity for the homeless or those at risk of becoming homeless connects them with agencies and organizations best able to help them get back on their feet.
Services provided will include food, clothing, dental and health checks and haircuts, she said. Information about veterans assistance, legal assistance, financial literacy, housing and spiritual needs also will be available.
“I expect around 150 people,” said Jones, who added that the first year of the project saw 339 people and last year had 149 people. “We recently had a phone debriefing with the state (Department of Community Affairs). Jason Rodriguez, the state count coordinator for January’s statewide homeless count, said the number of homeless has decreased by 38 percent.”
Jones emphasized January’s homeless count was only a “snapshot in time” but added that the state’s data showed the number of homeless veterans has decreased by 36 percent. She said this decrease possibly is connected to the increased number of programs helping veterans.
The number of homeless families with children also has decreased, and even the number of what the state calls “precariously homeless” (at risk for homelessness) has decreased. The statewide homeless count was 4,927, she said. Hinesville’s homeless count was 235.
“The state is still analyzing their homeless data,” she said, explaining that the city’s focus is on keeping people from becoming homeless. “Most of the people who come into our office have an unstable work history. They work a lot of food-service jobs. Many haven’t finished high school. That’s why our program is built around helping them build those skills needed to become self-sufficient.”
The help the city provides includes assisting the homeless or nearly homeless find stable employment. The city also helps them increase their income by increasing their knowledge and skills by earning a general education diploma or special certification, she said.
“Since August 2012, the city of Hinesville has disbursed $31,989.30 to assist 253 individuals — including school-aged children — with hotel vouchers for temporary shelter, which equals 743 nights,” Jones said.
Jones said the city’s homeless-prevention program also provides financial literacy personal-enhancement classes that teach life skills like budgeting, good nutrition habits, better parenting and coping skills and better mental, emotional and physical health.
Part of this year’s project will be a necktie giveaway, Jones said. Local organizations, churches and the Hinesville Rotary Club are giving away more than 100 neckties. The giveaway will be followed by an empowerment workshop on July 13 called “Tied to Success,” which Jones said will teach males how to properly tie a necktie and the importance of proper dress in getting a good-paying job. Every man should have at least one necktie, she said.
Transportation to the event is available through First Calvary Missionary Baptist Church by calling 876-3911. For more information on the event, call 876-6573 or go to www.cityofhinesville.org/communitydevelopment.
This year’s project is sponsored by the city, the Liberty County Homeless Coalition, Townsend Family Dental, Heritage Bank, Aire Serv Heating and Air Conditioning, A-1 Discount Flooring and Unique Social Club.