Eleven-year-old Jacob Bolen stood in the fog Thursday morning in front of the Hanford Pentecostal Church of God, clutching a bag of blankets and other necessities.
Nearby, volunteers worked on his BMX bike.
Bolen isn’t homeless yet, but he’s concerned he soon will be. He said his mother is disabled, and the only income earner for his family is his aunt.
Bolen was one of dozens of people who came Thursday to Project Homeless Connect, a one-stop-shop for homeless services.
Many brought their dogs, leaving them with volunteers who watched them and vaccinated them while the owners took a shower, ate breakfast, picked up supplies and checked out the many services being offered at tables inside the church.
Hanford resident Ally Slate, a first timer at the event, brought Hippie, her female German shepherd dog mix.
Slate said she became homeless about two months ago after a dispute with a landlord. She said she’s been couch-surfing at friends’ homes when she can.
“It sucks,” she said.
Slate said it’s tough to find food for Hippie, but she wouldn’t consider giving her up.
“She’s someone that cares,” she said. “She just wants to be with me.”
Slate said she and others get dog food thrown out in the trash bins behind PetSmart.
Slate was one of several people who said that they get Supplemental Security Income through the Social Security Administration. Many said it was enough to buy food and clothing, but not sufficient to make the deposit and regular monthly payments on an apartment.
Hanford resident Ann Jorgensen said her approximately $800 a month SSI check goes for food, clothing and transportation for herself and her three children.
She said she can afford about one week a month in one of the cheaper motels on East Lacey Boulevard. The rest of the time, like Slate, she crashes at friends’ places.
Housing options were a topic of discussion at many of the tables.
At the Kings County Housing Authority table, Housing Management Coordinator Sandra Jackson-Bobo said she was letting people know that there’s a two-to-five-year waiting list for Section 8 vouchers.
“Sometimes they say, ‘I can’t do that. I need a house right away,’ ” Jackson-Bobo said.
Section 8, a federally funded rent assistance program, is first-come, first-served.
Jackson-Bobo said funding increased last year, but not enough to make up for past cuts.
At a nearby table, KCAO employees were telling people about programs being offered that follow the “housing-first” model.
That approach seeks to get the “street homeless” into a subsidized apartment quickly, then start lining up services such as drug treatment, counseling and medical help.
Street homeless are those who are out in the open at night,