MUSKEGON, MICH. - The goal of 2016 Project Homeless Connect in Muskegon is to find shelter for the homeless in the area.
An event Wednesday, Oct. 26, filled the L.C. Walker Arena with 45 agencies offering services to those currently homeless, and others who are at-risk of becoming homeless. Often small life events can lead to homelessness.
"And it is as much as let's say having an argument with the person on whose couch you are sleeping -- and then you either go to a shelter, which a lot of people do not do, or you sleep under a bridge," said Michael Ramsey, the Muskegon County Homeless Continuum of Care Network Outreach Committee chair.
Agencies at the event were able to offer a variety of help to at-risk individuals and families, many who have various needs that go unmet .
"For some people it is hungry, they need to eat now, for some people it is where will they sleep tonight, for some people it's I need someone to help my children," Ramsey said.
The event made extra effort to reach out to veterans. The Department of Veterans Affairs has helped 39-Muskegon Vets secure H.U.D. housing vouchers. Tiyanna Payne is a supervisor for the V.A. Health Care for Homeless program.
"Everybody needs to have a home and everybody needs to feel safe," she said.
She knows there are likely veterans in the Muskegon area who sleep in shelters or tents.
"It is heartbreaking, and so that is why we try to do as much as possible," Payne said.
Muskegon veteran Peter Dells was at the event to gather resources for friends. He knows those who served in the military are taught to be self reliant, and they don't often ask for help.
"We figure we can handle just about anything, but a lot of time you need that extra support," Dells said.
Veteran Christian Harter took advantage of the boots and back pack one agency offered. He says the items will help him survive.
Harter is currently plugged into the local V.A. and has a small apartment. He's moving forward after a bad year.
"I lived out of my car for a full-year, through the winter time when it was real bad," Harter said. "I lived at the rest area."
Harter asked for and is receiving help -- it's the kind of connection to community organizers say is needed to end homelessness in Muskegon County.
The Michigan Department of Veterans Affairs operates an homeless hotline: that number is 1-877-424-3838.
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