Program reaches out to homeless vets

An estimated 2,000 veterans are now homeless and living on San Francisco’s streets, according to Ed DeMasi, a spokesman for Mayor Gavin Newsom’s Project Homeless Connect program.

On Tuesday, the program will reach out to those who once served in the military but are now without a place to live — offering medical, legal, employment and other services — as well as the chance to get a haircut, massage and make a phone call to loved ones.

The one-stop resource event will be held at the VA Downtown Clinic, 401 Third St., from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. It has been put together by Project Homeless Connect, The City, the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs and the San Francisco VA Medical Center, among other organizations.

Recent outreach events have not drawn out veterans that are in need, DeMasi said.
Local Veterans Affairs officials estimate that about 30 percent of the people living on San Francisco’s streets are
veterans.

At an event held by Project Homeless Connect last month, however, only about 5 to 10 percent of those who came for help were veterans, DeMasi said.

“We’re not hitting somebody along the way,” he said.

The Veterans Connect event will help connect veterans with VA benefits, provide a computer center to type up résumés, offer free health services and, in some cases, temporary housing situations.

“One of our goals in doing a Vet Connect is also to get those veterans who are available and are for some reason not hooked up to that system,’’ DeMasi said.

Veterans will be informed of the resources available to them and a personal escort will help connect them on-site to the needed services.

Veterans Connect will also aim to help participants get employment — veterans who attend will get clothes for job interviews with people on-site to fit the clothes accordingly.

Participants will also be provided with blankets and food, said Alice Aronow, the VA’s assistant director for social work.

“People find things [at Homeless Connect events] that they are looking for along with some good advice and connections,” Aronow said.

kkelkar@sfexaminer.com

Lending a helping hand

Veterans Connect, aevent to give support and services to homeless veterans iSaFrancisco, will be held Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the downtowVA Clinic at 401 Third St. at HarrisoStreet.

Among resources that will be provided:

  • Medical help
  • Legal advice
  • Job search support
  • Work clothes
  • Haircuts
  • Massages
  • Phone calls
  • HIV and TB testing
  • Access to food stamps

Source: Project Homeless Connect

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