Every other month, hundreds of homeless can be seen coming for services at San Francisco's Civic Auditorium. "We came here last night. We slept outside to get in the line to get in here," Cheryl Benn told ABC7 News. She was hoping to get her stolen ID replaced. Others were there for dental exams, massages, even acupuncture and of course, many wanted access to social services.
Now, instead of getting this help every other month, it'll be offered daily, though on a smaller scale. "For many individuals, when they're ready to seek services, there's sort of an immediacy. You never know when that moment is going to come," San Francisco Homeless Director Bevan Dufty said.
With what's called "Everyday Connect," workers will answer a hotline at an office on Van Ness or handle walk-ins, linking the homeless to city resources and community contacts. "With that Everyday Connection, we'll get more people to talk about what their lives are going through and perhaps entice even more people to get out of the rain, get into shelters with some services," San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said.
It was Lee's predecessor Gavin Newsom who created Homeless Connect in 2004. Since then, it has served 64,000 people including Arthur Owens. He's needed new glasses for over a month and is pleased about the program's expansion. "I think I'll try to utilize that at any given time that I need something like this," he said.
Officials are confident Everyday Connect will work because during a pilot project, 227 people accessed services in just one month. Everyday Connect begins on Monday.
For more information, call toll free 1-855-588-7968 or call the city at 3-1-1.