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051210-project-homeless-connect-078.gifAccording to www.about.com, almost 303,000 people live in Cumberland County. Adolph Thomas, City of Fayetteville community development specialist, knows that about 1,033 of them are homeless, and that there are not enough resources to go around to help these people.

That is why the City of Fayetteville is joining forces with other agencies to try and bring changes to the community with Project Homeless Connect on May 20 at First Baptist Church on Moore Street.

“Project Homeless Connect is an event sponsored by the 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness steering committee,” said Thomas. “The purpose is to bring the community together — and when I say that, we are talking about the primary agencies that deal with housing, health issues, parenting — all these different agencies under one roof — to provide a one-day service to the homeless residents of our county. The idea is that any issues that these people have we are asking people to help us deal with it.”

For example, North Carolina identification cards are a big deal. Without one you can’t get get a job and you miss out on many services that are available. Project Homeless Connect has asked the N.C. Department of Motor Vehicles to provide a way to get ID cards to those who need them and would not otherwise know how to go about getting them. The $10 fee is waived for homeless individuals, for obvious reasons.

“That is a big stumbling block for a lot of these folks,” said Thomas. “A lot of them don’t walk around with $10 in their pocket.”

This is just one of the many areas that the event will focus on. It starts at 7:30 a.m. and runs through 1:30 p.m. Breakfast and lunch will be served. Free haircuts will be offered along with medical prescription assistance, medical and dental assistance, housing assistance, job placement, government assistance and more.

“We are trying to include local, private agencies as well,” said Thomas.

Everyone from local churches and non-profits who are looking for ways to be helpful in solving this problem while ensuring financial accountability is offered the chance to participate.

Local businesses will be on hand, as well.

“We are trying to include them as part of the solution, and to make them feel a responsibility for helping to solve the problem,” said Thomas, noting that the city is also reaching out to Fort Bragg in an effort to deal with the large number of homeless veterans.

Transportation is provided free of charge to the event for those wishing to attend. Thomas said homeless individuals need to procure and give the bus driver the Homeless Connect F.A.S.T pass.

“Most people think of homelessness as the guy on the street corner with a sign,” said Thomas. “What they don’t realize is that a lot of our homeless in Cumberland County are families sleeping in cars — single moms and children.”

For more information about this event, or to volunteer call 433-2161.

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