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Homeless Connect In North County

Aired 11/17/11 on KPBS News.

Cal State San Marcos hosted a one-stop shop event for North County homeless people on Wednesday, the first in a decade.

About a third of the San Diego’s homeless live in North County.

Homeless people arrived by bicycle, bus, trolley and car at the "Homeless Connect" event, and vans picked people up from as far away as Poway and Encinitas. Booths filled the students’ union at CSU San Marcos, offering legal and medical help, warm clothes, survival backpacks and haircuts.

Coordinator Laurin Pause, executive director of the Community Resource Center in Encinitas, said the event, involving dozens of agencies, kicks off the winter shelter season.

“We have counseling, dental, health services, DMV to get ID cards," she said. "We even have the Humane Society to give dog screenings to those people who have animals.“

Student Kristee Novak with Vietnam veteran Richard Jones and his dog Katie at the "Homeless Connect" event in Cal State San Marcos Nov 16th 2011
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Above: Student Kristee Novak with Vietnam veteran Richard Jones and his dog Katie at the "Homeless Connect" event in Cal State San Marcos Nov 16th 2011

Many of those attending were veterans, and many did have dogs. One of them was Richard Jones, a Vietnam vet who lives out of his van in Vista, and brought his dog Katie. He was glad to find help for a back log of child support payments he said he would never be able to fulfill. Jones cooks breakfast for a number of homeless people in his neighborhood.

“There’s a lot more people becoming homeless now that have finally expunged all their savings,” he said. “Now they’re coming out on the streets and don’t know where to go, where to turn, what to do.“

More than 100 students volunteered as docents to help the homeless find the resources they need.

Few homeless families showed up, but Pause says they may get help in other ways.

“In the last year,” she said, “we have more than doubled the number of families. Their unemployment benefits are gone and now they can’t make ends meet. We have more than 350 families currently being case managed through our food program and we have about 150 on the wait list.”

The winter shelter for homeless families opened in Vista last night with beds for about 50.

The Alliance for Regional Solutions will open a network of other shelters for adults around North County December 1st.

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