‘Project Homeless Connect’ Event April 23 Aims to Help the Homeless in Fort Collins

Homeward 2020 – an initiative of the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado that seeks to end homelessness in Fort Collins by 2020- and the Colorado State University Student Leadership, Involvement, and Community Engagement (SLiCE) Office are sponsoring the first-ever “Project Homeless Connect” event in Fort Collins on April 23. The event will be held at the University Center of the Arts in an effort to help find solutions to homelessness in the community with fundamental support of the homeless population in the area through an array of resources.

Project Homeless Connect will provide immediate free access to important services including: dental and medical screenings, haircuts, employment assistance, grocery cards, homeless gear, bike repair and legal services. Free transportation will be provided by Green Ride Colorado and the event also offers free breakfast and lunch.

“The first goal of Project Homeless Connect is to provide a full range of high quality support services in a user-friendly environment,” said Homeward 2020 Director Bryce Hach. “The second goal is to engage the broader community about the issues and needs of our homeless population.”

This summer, the Fort Collins community will come together to look at data that clarifies the circumstances and severity of homelessness in the city. This understanding will help guide local leadership in devising a plan to end homelessness that addresses multifaceted issues like housing, services, employment and education. In order to create, implement and maintain a 10-year plan to end homelessness, it requires significant community will from both the local agencies that daily address the needs of the homeless as well as leadership from the business, government, education and faith communities.

Project Homeless Connect is a way to keep the issue of homelessness on the front burner of the community’s consciousness so that the 10-year plan continues to maintain necessary momentum and the plan is to make this an annual event.

Project Homeless Connect will bring together people and organizations that have never been involved in homelessness in a direct effort to make a difference in their community. About 150 CSU students will be paired one-on-one with homeless and near-homeless clients, escorting them to the different stations at the event.

"Homelessness is an issue that affects the entire community and one that requires the participation of the entire community to solve,” said CSU Project Homeless Connect Student Coordinator Melisa Panagakos. “Students represent a large portion of Fort Collins and should take an active role to ensure its well-being.”

The SLiCE office successfully obtained a grant from the Daniel’s Fund in order to host this event. “This is an incredible opportunity for our students to participate in active learning,” said Pamela Sampson, director of SLiCE. “Our hope is that students gain an awareness and embrace the idea that anyone is susceptible to homelessness and that we all should care enough about our neighbors who are experiencing a tough time to support them.”

Project Homeless Connect is a national program and events vary in size, content and frequency in each community, but share a common intent – to remedy the homelessness of their neighbors. The under-one-roof offerings for clients and the mobile hospitality of volunteers who act as escorts and conductors for their homeless neighbors help lower their barriers and achieve results. Events catalyze community involvement, generating new partnership, commitment, and investment to end homelessness. Project Homeless Connect gives people and organizations that have never been involved in homelessness before a way to make a difference in their community.

“We hope this will be an annual event that will bring the community together in support of the homeless, the homeless service providers and the 10-year plan to end homelessness in Fort Collins,” Hach said.

For more event information and a list of community partners, please visit http://www.homeward2020.org/projecthomelessconnect.php.

For more information about CSU’s SLiCE office please visit http://www.slce.colostate.edu/

To schedule an interview, contact Bryce Hach at (970) 412-1290 or bryce@Homeward2020.org.