People On The Streets Get Resources in Project Homeless Connect
(Memphis) Life on the street can be tough for those fighting homelessness.
“[I’m] having problems getting a place to stay, sleeping on the streets, bugs biting you,” said Robert Cotton, who came to the event looking for help.
The days of struggling could be coming to end for him thanks to the help Cotton received at the Project Homeless Connect event at the Cook Convention Center on Thursday.
“They’re getting me housing and they’re getting my disability started,” said Cotton.
1,204 homeless people received help in things like housing, employment and ID’s.
“I think what most people learn is how hard it is to leave homelessness,” said Katie Kitchen, one of the organizers. “You would think, ‘Get a job, get an ID or whatever’, but it’s actually extremely difficult.”
Kitchin says the massive one day event pools many of the resources the homeless need and puts them under one roof.
This year the event has a working courtroom called Street Court with a criminal judge, prosecutors and defense, helping clear things like previous, non-convicted arrests…
“We’re seeing more expungements than I thought but we’re mostly seeing old court costs and fines, which the judge has discretion to waive,” said Josh Spickler, who works with Shelby County Public Defender’s Office. “[The judge] must find that the person is indigent, unable to afford to pay them and that it is a hardship and the judge can waive those and that’s mostly what we’re doing.”
It’s just another way to offer a helping hand to those trying to get off the streets.
“This is going to give me hope,” said Cotton, “and I appreciate it.”
Kitchin says there are nearly 2,000 homeless people in Memphis on any given day and around 6,000 homeless throughout the year.
FACTS ABOUT THE EVENT:
- 1,204 people were helped by 826 volunteers
- 242 IDs were issued
- 121 people received social security services (ID printout, new cards, disability claims)
- 298 Medical screenings were done, 241 saw physicians and nurses, 237 got follow up appointments
- There were 3 ER transports
- 30 dental treatments were done
- 708 Housing screenings were done and 44 guests were approved for housing
- Two were transported to permanent housing
- 172 food stamp applications were processed.
- 161 guests received legal counseling
- 20 cases with action taken by the judge