ECHO INCREASES HOMELESS OUTREACH DISTRIBUTING SAFETY BAGS DURING COVID 19
EL CAMINO HOMELESS ORGANIZATION INCREASES HOMELESS OUTREACH
SERVICES IN NORTH COUNTY
Atascadero, CA (April 21, 2020) Homeless Services in North County takes another step forward in serving a vulnerable population of the homeless in our community. In November, the city of Paso Robles contracted with El Camino Homeless Organization (ECHO) to provide services to community members who are experiencing homelessness. During the same timeframe, ECHO also began more one-to-one outreach with people experiencing homelessness and are considered unsheltered living on the streets, in encampments and out of their cars throughout North County.
ECHO has now expanded that program and has added an Emergency Resource Outreach Specialist, Brad Zimmer to its team. Zimmer will work directly with people who are experiencing unsheltered homelessness to find solutions that will help them stay safe, nourished and provide options to finding shelter. Zimmer has worked with homeless individuals in a number of settings, including at Five Cities Homeless Coalition in the southern part of San Luis Obispo county.
“This is another cornerstone piece of our program being put into place to serve the Paso Robles, Atascadero and Cambria communities,” said Jeff Al-Mashat, Director of Homeless Services. “Having a staff member dedicated to building relationships and trust with people experiencing unsheltered homelessness is a huge step in reducing homelessness and helping people succeed in long term housing.”
One of the tools ECHO will be using as part of this outreach will be the distribution of “safety bags.” The bags are a response to COVID-19 and will provide food, safety and hygiene products including face masks, gloves and hand sanitizer. Zimmer will carry safety bags as he visits areas where homeless individuals gather. This potential life-saving effort will not only help people facing hunger and homelessness, it will help in the prevention of community spread COVID 19.
“We are very excited to add this position, especially as people facing unsheltered homelessness are particularly vulnerable to something like COVID-19,” said Wendy Lewis, ECHO’s President/CEO. “In a time when a lot of organizations have had to scale back staff and services, providing comprehensive services to our clients, has actually led to expansion of our services to meet unmet needs.”