Historic Harris-Stowe State College was the site of St. Louis’ Project Homeless Connect event last week, with an unprecedented collaboration of two adjacent Illinois Counties St. Clair and Madison simultaneously convening a "welcome" to their homeless neighbors.
St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and East St. Louis Mayor Alvin Parks and United States Interagency Council on Homelessness Executive Director Philip Mangano welcomed over 135 guests and 110 volunteers at the event at the Emerson Performing Arts Center at the College, hosted and welcomed by Dr. George Hyram, Executive Vice President representing Dr. Henry Givens, President of Harris-Stowe State College. St. Louis Department of Human Services Director William Siedhoff and Homeless Services Manager Antoinette Triplett, who are key to the city’s plan and results, were instrumental to the Connect event. Mayor Slay and Director Mangano are pictured above, and Dr. Hyram is pictured here at the podium.
Mayor Slay told the partners: "I’m really pleased to have Mayor Parks here with us and to have St. Clair County and Madison County in Illinois, join us in holding their own events. We are pleased that the City of St. Louis could assist these counties in their inaugural events and look forward to further collaboration in addressing the needs of homeless people in the region." Added the Mayor: "And I am pleased Philip Mangano is here he was here with us in 2005 when we released our 10-Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness and has been instrumental in facilitating our plan and those of more than 350 cities." Organizers reported that guests and volunteers were excited to be speaking to someone from Washington, DC and one said it "felt good to get his voice heard from someone in Washington."
"We are here in this special place which has its own abolitionist roots in ending another social wrong in our country. We welcome our Neighbors here today with the affirmation of our commitment to end the moral wrong of homelessness in our country," indicated Director Mangano.
Demonstrating the commitment that the Social Security Administration has consistently shown to the goal of ending chronic homelessness and to the Connect opportunity, from its Washington leadership, including Ed Beane who has overseen the agency’s national 41-site HOPE enrollment initiative for people who are chronically homeless, to District Manager Pat Gaffigan, SSA staff shown here set up an enrollment station at Connect to expedite access for guests.
Ten guests left the streets, with two linked with family and making arrangements to get home. Five were housed through one of the City of St. Louis’ Permanent Supportive Housing Programs, St. Patrick Center’s new Rosati House Program (see related story). Seven individuals will be participating in St. Patrick Center’s new BEGIN Training & Education Center programs. Organizers also reported on the importance of linking individuals not only with needed services, but with needed love ones. Guests were able to make long distance calls using free cell phones provided at the Cricket Wireless booth.