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Project Homeless Connect Gives Health Services, Counseling, Haircuts to San Diego’s Homeless

The San Diego Housing Commission links resources with people in need. Today, they put on their seventh annual Project Homeless Connect, a one-day resource fair that drew a large crowd of people to the Community Concourse in downtown.

The crowds gathered at the fair are just a swipe of the estimated 1,100 homeless people living in and around downtown. They range from veterans to young people, seniors and disabled. They even brought their dogs, who were taken care of by Humane Society volunteers.

Photo by Guillermo Sevilla

Joshua Shuffield gets a buzz cut after spending six months homeless on the streets.

When guests entered Golden Hall, volunteers in purple t-shirts directed them to a slew of free services, from health screenings and flu shots to legal aid and housing counseling.

"Look around, you see nonprofit organizations, shoes, clothing and whatnot," said City Council President Todd Gloria.

Volunteer stylists from Bellus Academy, San Diego Rescue Mission and California Hair Design Academy were also working four-hour shifts.

Joshua Shuffield was getting a buzz cut after spending six months on the streets. He's originally from Oregon, lost his job and unemployment benefits and eventually landed in San Diego.

"I ended up down at the bottoms," he said.

That's under a highway overpass downtown where many homeless people are living. Like the hundreds of people at this event, Shuffield wasted no time in taking advantage of the many services.

"Yeah, I just got the haircut, I just got the flu shot and I got my teeth cleaned," he said.

Now he's looking for a place to live. He learned the city's permanent housing for homeless people will open soon downtown and says he's going to spread the word.

"I'll be checking it out and bringing my friends in to check it out and telling fellow homeless people to try to help them out too," he said.

That's what Project Homeless Connect is all about. People helping people reconnect and hopefully turn their lives around.

Last year, 941 people were helped by Project Homeless Connect in San Diego. They used computers for the first time to register people this year and had a goal to serve at least 1,000 homeless.

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