Soaring Unemployment and Foreclosures Increase Homeless in San Francisco


Newswise — Each day brings news of more job losses and more home foreclosures in California, pushing more people out onto the streets of our cities. But simple statistics can't capture the full scale of the tragedy. Behind the numbers are the faces of ordinary men and women, overwhelmed by forces outside their control, trying hard to hold on to their dignity and self-respect.

"We are seeing more and more people coming in for the first time," says Marguerite Nowak, Advocacy and Education Manager with the San Francisco Food Bank. "Demand for help at our pantries is up 15 percent compared to last year. Many of our new clients are working families who now find themselves on the edge because of reduced work hours, or seniors living on fixed incomes. And the problem of hunger exists in every single neighborhood."

"We are facing a growing crisis," says Judith Klain, Director of Project Homeless Connect. "With the loss of over 850,000 homes around the country and two million jobs, things are only going to get worse."

That's why volunteers are needed more than ever for the next Project Homeless Connect (PHC) event at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, 99 Grove Street in San Francisco, on Wednesday, February 11, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Volunteers help provide much needed services to all those who come to the event. This time, for the third year in a row, many of those volunteers will come from California Pacific Medical Center which is sponsoring the February PHC event and providing both medical and non-medical staff, as well as financial support and medical supplies, to help meet the needs of the clients.

"As physicians we are trained to respond to need when we see it, and we are seeing it more and more on the streets of San Francisco," says Martin Brotman, M.D., President and CEO of California Pacific. "As a community-based hospital we are committed to doing whatever we can to help those struggling in these difficult times. The people we see at Project Homeless Connect (PHC) could so easily be personal friends, neighbors, or members of our own family. We will not turn our back on them when they need us most."

By creating a one-stop-shopping model, PHC makes it possible for people experiencing homelessness to access services like medical care, mental health and substance abuse treatment, benefits, legal support, dental care, shelter, eyeglasses, food, and more. At the most recent PHC event in December, on one single day more than 1,900 people came to seek services provided by over 1,200 volunteers.

This is the 26th Project Homeless Connect event. Since October 2004 more than 19,600 volunteers helped provide services to more than 26,000 homeless and poor San Franciscans. In that time almost 6,000 people were screened for benefits, more than 3,000 were given help finding a job, and almost 5,000 were provided medical care.

PHC has proven so effective that it is serving as the model for similar programs in more than 200 cities across the U.S. as well as in Australia and Canada.

For more information contact Kevin McCormack or go to www.projecthomelessconnect.com

About Project Homeless ConnectProject Homeless Connect makes a real difference in the lives of the City's homeless by bringing together almost 250 non-profit agencies, private businesses and volunteers to assist San Franciscans in need. Since the program's inception in October 2004 as a joint effort of San Francisco's health care, housing and human service systems, Project Homeless Connect has been supported by tens of thousands of volunteers, individuals and companies giving their time, cash, clothing, food and essential services. To date, this program has provided services to thousands of the City's most economically disadvantaged men, women and children with basic human needs and housing. Project Homeless Connect is a key component of Mayor Newsom's 10-year plan to abolish homelessness in San Francisco. This unprecedented approach to helping the homeless has been adopted as a national model in more than 200 jurisdictions in the U.S and has also been implemented in Canada and Australia.

California Pacific Medical Center. Beyond Medicine.At San Francisco's California Pacific Medical Center, we believe in the power of medicine. We research the most up-to-date treatments, hire the most qualified individuals, and practice the most modern, innovative medicine available. We deliver the highest quality expert care, with kindness and compassion, in acute, post-acute and outpatient services, as well as preventive and complementary medicine. But we also believe that medicine alone is only part of the solution. That's why we look intently at each individual case and treat the whole person, not just the illness. It's why we go beyond medical care and provide our patients with things like disease counseling, family support and wellness treatments. As one of California's largest private, community-based, not-for-profit, teaching medical centers, and a Sutter Health affiliate, we are able to reach deep into our community to provide education, screening and financial support in some of the city's most underserved neighborhoods. Because medicine can transform a body. But going beyond medicine can transform a life. www.cpmc.org

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