Project Homeless Connect kicks off summer event after three year hiatus
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - On Friday, August 12, 2022, the Fairbanks Housing and Homeless Coalition will hold the Summer Project Homeless Connect (PHC) event in the parking lot of the Immaculate Conception Church located at 115 North Cushman St.
This free event is aimed to help those in the community who are experiencing homelessness with a “one-stop, one-day” opportunity to provide services and resources to housing, non-profit organizations, and government agencies.
“Project Homeless Connect is an event that we usually do, well we always to in January, in conjunction with the point in time count for counting the homeless population in Fairbanks for the Fairbanks Coalition,” said Program and Operational Manager for the Fairbanks Rescue Mission, Lisa Pollock. “It helps us to know what the needs are in the community and what the possible future programs that could help fill those needs.”
Pollock said the event also works like a census. It helps the coalition know how many people in the community are experiencing homelessness. She said although the winter census is helpful, summertime can bring new faces and open the door for resources to those before the winter months.
Before COVID-19 put a temporary halt to events, the coalition had one other successful summertime event. This will be the first event since restrictions have been lifted.
“So a few years ago we decided as a coalition let’s try a summer one to see and to capture some of the population that we may not have gotten in the wintertime,” said Roscoe Britton with No Limits. “So that was pre-COVID. I think that we have only had one, so post COVID, it has been at least three or four years since we have had one.”
Together Pollock and Britton say events such as these help figure out how to help, outsource, and refer individuals who may need help overcoming various obstacles and barriers they may be facing. One of the main goals is to help those find permanent or temporary housing before the summer months come to an end.
A new addition the coalition has added to the event is the availability for those to acquire or replace an identification card. Payment will be provided for those looking to obtain an ID and a representative will be on-site to help with paperwork. Transportation will also be provided to the new Department of Motor Vehicles location, if needed.
Haircuts will also be available on-site, which Britton said, has a huge impact on a person’s self-esteem and confidence.
“So we definitely wanted to give a special shout-out to Beyond the Mirror because they have done haircuts and they bring people in and they give haircuts and they just do their thing,” said Britton. “You can just see when a person gets their hair cut that hasn’t done it for a while, being in the streets their self-esteem just rises up, automatically, boom,” he gestured. “So they feel good about themselves for at least a few days and so within that time span, we can send them to some resources.”
The Interior AIDS Association will be at the event as well with a new testing kit. This 5-minute test is used to quickly and effectively test for those with chronic or long-lasting HIV infection.
“I think the most exciting part of it is, fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on how you want to look at it is seeing the new faces of individuals that have become homeless, and to hopefully be able to communicate with them and find out how that situation happened,” said Britton.
He said meeting these new people gives the coalition an idea of how many people and an idea of how to best help them into permanent housing.
“Because when someone is housed, then they can work on anything else that needs to be done,” he added. “But if you are trying to find a job or if you are trying to get substance abuse and you are trying to get mental health, at the end of the day you don’t have anywhere to lay your head down on, then what’s the point after a few days you just give up.”
Pollock added that summertime in Fairbanks can be easier for those experiencing homelessness, but as winter approaches the goal is to help find them housing in this frame so they don’t have to spend another winter outside.
Britton said he wants individuals to know the community is there for them and they care. “It [PHC] gives an individual hope, and if you have hope, then you have a reason to get out of where you are at no matter what it takes and get the resources,” he said heartily. “People have a hard time raising their hand and sometimes saying they need help, and we are going to try and help them with the hard ones and let them know they are being loved by the community and the coalition.”
Members of the Fairbanks community are encouraged to volunteer at the event. Information can be found at the Summer Project Homeless Connect website.
Below is a list of the resources available at Summer Project Homeless Connect:
Alaska Behavioral Health
Beyond the Mirror - Haircuts
Fairbanks Job Center
Fairbanks Lutheran Church
Fairbanks Native Association - Community Opioid Intervention Project
Fairbanks Native Association ANPP1/ANPP2
Fairbanks Native Association Building Bridges suicide prevention
Fairbanks Native Association Community Services
Fairbanks Vet Center
Fairbanks Wellness Coalition
Fairbanks Youth Advocates - The Door
Interior AIDS Association
Interior Alaska Center for Non-Violent Living
Learning Inside Out Network (L.I.O.N.)
No Limits, Inc.
Northern Hope Center
Northern Hope Center
Presbyterian Hospitality House
SOA Project HOPE
Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic
The Salvation Army
True North Recovery
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