Oct. 25 Homelessness Summit in Visalia to focus on best-practice strategies and resource commitment

@TheSunGazette

VISALIA – Homelessness is a universal problem in one way or another. Cities who want to show compassion provide services, but on the other hand those services hold a very real cost. And that is why the Tulare County Task Force on Homelessness (TCTFH) is hosting a summit on Wednesday, Oct. 25 in Visalia with hopes of continuing the discussion of creating more efficient and economical systems that follow best practices to serve individuals experiencing homelessness.

The summit is designed as an invite-only day for local and regional professionals to discuss homelessness issues affecting our communities, and look at ways to coordinate existing local services and programs for homeless populations, leading to an overall reduction of homelessness in Tulare County.

“I’m looking forward to us bringing together community partners, stakeholders, and interested citizens as we work collaboratively to find best practices to manage and offer resources for our homeless population in Tulare County,” said Amy Shuklian, Tulare County Board of Supervisors, District Three.

The Kings/Tulare Alliance 2017 Point in Time Count Report surveyed 700 individuals experiencing homelessness, and although homelessness has decreased in Kings/Tulare since 2009 by 12 percent, homelessness increased by eight percent between 2016 and 2017.

The same report notes that 9 percent of those experiencing homelessness are children and 91 percent are adults. Of those experiencing homelessness, the majority identify as non-Hispanic/non-Latino (55 percent). One third of those surveyed, 31 percent reported having a mental health condition and 78 percent reported suffering from a disabling condition.

Invitees include city and county elected officials and management, community leaders, law enforcement officials, members of the agricultural and faith communities, and members of the media.

The keynote speaker for the event is Dr. Joe Colletti, an Adjunct Professor of Urban Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, and the Executive Director of the Hub for Urban Initiatives. Dr. Colletti has worked with cities and counties for more than 20 years developing and implementing jurisdictional plans and programs to prevent and end homelessness.

Speakers addressing our local situation include: Machael Smith, Executive Director at the Kings/Tulare Homeless Alliance; Ryan Stillwater, Director of Development with the Visalia Rescue Mission; and Deirdre Fisher, Case Manager with the Kings View PATH Program.

The summit moderator is Dr. Matthew Jendian, who is a tenured professor and chair of sociology, and the founding director of the Humanics Program in Community Benefit Administration at Fresno State.

Regional best-practices speakers include representatives from Yuba County’s “14 Forward” program, the City of Albuquerque and St. Martin’s Hospitality Center’s “There’s a Better Way” program, the City of San Diego Housing Commission, and the Housing Authority of the County of Los Angeles.

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