As the holidays approach and rain sets in, many Bay Area residents are looking forward to warm fireplaces and home-cooked meals. For some, however, winter only exaggerates the most basic of needs.
San Mateo County and Project WeHOPE on Thursday hosted East Palo Alto Connect II, an event that provided free food, shelter and health services to the homeless and those at risk of homelessness. More than 25 organizations came together to offer foot massages, wound care, hair cuts, counseling and raffle prizes to the more than 100 people who turned out for the event.
One station in particular — the Ravenswood Mobile Health Clinic — was in high demand. Staff members Tiffany Hautau and Marisol Aceveda registered guests for medical appointments and gave flu shots through lunchtime. The van was donated by Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford; patient care is covered by a federal Health Care for the Homeless grant.
A primary goal of the event was to connect the homeless to long-term services that could benefit them. Of 400 people interviewed in the San Mateo County 2009 Homeless Census and Survey:
- 89 percent were unemployed, but only 6 percent were taking advantage of job training services.
- 68 percent reported having at least one disability, but only 17 percent were receiving Medi-Cal benefits.
- Only a third of those with mental illness were using mental health services.
- And 37 percent used the emergency room as a first point of medical care.