COC connects needy with essentials

Katrice Perkins/Daily Mining Gazette Brian Foreman awaits the arrival of those in need of services at the Project Homeless Connect Initiative on Wednesday at the Salvation Army in Hancock.

The Continuum of Care (COC) for Houghton, Keweenaw and Baraga counties invited the public to learn about services provided for people in need at the Department of Health and Human Services office in Houghton and the lobby of the Salvation Army in Hancock on Wednesday.

They were there to provide helpful information, goodie bag and a light snack for people who were homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

The event was a part of the Project Homeless Connect Initiative to connect with the people who are homeless in the area.

Brian Foreman of the Child and Family Services of the Upper Peninsula said this is something the group does once a year. The timing this year was changed from November to January.

“We wanted to do it the same time we did our pit count to get an accurate account of who’s on the streets,” said Foreman.

COC is a coalition for homeless services. It refers those in need to services in a 10-county area.

The state Department of Health and Human Services is the COC’s main referral.

“They’ll point people in our direction,” said Foreman.

One of those services in the area include the Wrap it Rehousing program, which is an 18-month program where Child and Family Services pays the person’s rent while helping them obtain a job and work toward getting back on their feet.

There are also things like a domestic violence shelter, food pantries and other places people in need can be referred to.

There were bags available to those who came in. The bags had hygiene products such as toothpaste, toothbrush, tissue and feminine hygiene products.

For food, there were only crackers inside of the bag, but if it was needed, people could get some from the food pantry at the Salvation Army.

The lack of attendees was concerning, but there was a person who came in to report seeing a person who appeared to be homeless. This was a way to add to the COC street count.

Foreman mentioned the lack of access for those who are homeless to hear about these types of events.

“They’re not seeing the ads, so unless they come in here today for help or they randomly caught an ad, how are they gonna know?” asked Foreman.

Foreman suggested community members can help by referring people in need to resources.

“Charity begins at home,” he said.