Event at Convention Center to connect homeless, services

Monday afternoon to-do list: get a haircut, eyeglasses, a job and a place to live.

Those experiencing homelessness in Minneapolis can do it all at Project Homeless Connect, an event at the Minneapolis Convention Center today that will bring together a wide variety of services under one roof.

The event will offer basic dental and medical care, clothes, food and, yes, even haircuts.

The fair will also help attendees find housing and get jobs, things that would “normally take an individual two to three weeks, all in that day,” said Matthew Ayres, the program analyst for Minneapolis and Hennepin County’s Office to End Homelessness.

Those attending the event will be paired up one-on-one with a volunteer who will guide them through the “one-stop shop” of services such as eyeglass shops, dental fillings and extractions, on-the-spot job interviews, housing applications, and vouchers for free shoes and state IDs, Ayres said.

This is the third Project Homeless Connect. The project has tripled its services since the last fair and organizers are expecting a lot of new participants to show up.
“Word on the street gets out pretty quick. People know this is a good event,” Ayres said.

The event is successful because it helps people experiencing homelessness overcome the multitude of barriers they might normally face. The event is not only useful in concrete and financial ways for individuals experiencing homelessness, but also serves to boost morale and build community between attendees and volunteers.

“[Those experiencing homelessness] are appreciative of being treated like a human, that they weren’t judged, (but) treated with respect and humanity,” Ayres said.
The event runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m on Monday, October 11. For more information, contact Project Homeless Connect by at 612-673-2525 or go to www.homelessconnectminneapolis.org.