IF YOU GO
• What: Project Homeless Connect
• When: 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Thursday
• Where: 1801 S. Holtzclaw Ave.
• Transportation: Provided from the Community Kitchen, Salvation Army, Burks United Methodist Church, the Samaritan Center and the Career Center at Eastgate beginning at 8:30 a.m.
• For more information: www.hboc.org
Michael Davis has a loose tooth that has hurt him for more than a month. He hopes to get it pulled Thursday.
"It aches so bad at night," he said this week while visiting the Chattanooga Community Kitchen.
The 19-year-old Golden Gateway resident is among 500 to 600 people expected to attend the eighth annual Project Homeless Connect, scheduled Thursday at the National Guard Armory on Holtzclaw Avenue
About 30 agencies will meet under one roof to help homeless people get the medical, dental and housing services they need. Those attending probably will not get immediate housing, officials said, but workers for the Home Place will screen HIV-positive people for housing.
Community Kitchen employees will assess people who may qualify for the Supplemental Assistance for Facilities To Aid the Homeless program, which is designed to prevent formerly homeless women and children from cycling back into homelessness.
"I hope guests can connect with at least one service that helps them and build their network of support," said John Dorris, chairman of Project Homeless Connect.
Tami Weathers hopes the event can help position her for housing. The 49-year-old mother of two gets a monthly Social Security check, but it's not enough for an apartment, so she lives in motels until the money runs out, then stays for free at the Community Kitchen.
Before the Kitchen started its daily emergency shelter in November, she lived in vacant cars and on the streets.
"I've been scared. I've been hurt," she said while washing clothes at the Kitchen.
At Thursday's event, dental hygienists from Chattanooga State Community College and three local dentists will provide dental care, including some tooth extractions. Virginia College will give free haircuts, and the MaryEllen Locher Breast Center will provide mammograms.
Service providers include the Homeless Health Care Center, Chattanooga Homeless Coalition and the Interfaith Homeless Network. Representatives will offer veterans services, voter registration and job interview tips.
"If they have transportation, I'll go," said 59-year-old Jerry Jordan, sitting at a Community Kitchen table behind Davis.
Jordan said he became homeless three weeks ago after separating from a relationship, and he is looking for housing.
Access to available services and knowledge of services is critical to greater stability and real solutions for those in crisis, said Dorris. Project Homeless Connect is also beneficial because it breaks down barriers among all types of people from different political, religious and economic backgrounds, he said.
"Given the rhetoric and polarized views that seem to dominate public discussions these days," said Dorris, "I find that very refreshing."