Individuals and families at risk of, or who are experiencing homelessness, face a wide array of challenges to resolve their housing crisis. In order to secure employment or housing, individuals often need to regain access to vital records like birth certificates or social security cards.
Unfortunately, most struggle to get transportation to the locations that issue vital documents. The time spent maneuvering to and through these systems cost valuable time that could be spent looking for work and securing housing.
With the support of hundreds of volunteers, Valley of the Sun United Way’s Project Connect program has helped those who are experiencing, or on the brink of, homelessness. Since this program’s inception in 2008, Project Connect has served more than 22,000.
Historically, Project Connect events have been held year-round in strategic locations around the greater Phoenix area. Events link individuals and families, referred to as guests, to vital services and resources by bringing together more than 40+ health and human services providers to one accessible location.
Specific services available at Project Connect events have included: shelter and food resources, obtaining vital records, medical care and mental health services, signing up for appropriate benefits and employment counseling. Guests have been able to also shower, get a haircut and select donated clothing.
The ability to access these services free of charge, and in one location, is significantly better than the alternative of long lines, appointments at multiple local agencies and lack of resources for transportation or ID fees.
United Way has served as the backbone agency for Project Connect, convening all of the service providers, supervising the volunteers, coordinating the venue logistics and providing community outreach.
Partnerships, with service providers, have been at the heart of the Project Connect program. Some specific providers include, but are not limited to:
The overall goal of the Project Connect events has been to assist those who are at risk of, or are experiencing, homelessness complete in one day what often take weeks or months to accomplish. As mentioned, this program links guests to a variety of vital services and resources.
Due to the health concerns with the current pandemic, the Project Connect program is temporarily on hold. United Way is exploring other methods and new options for this program to effectively reach those in need.