Connecting people in need to the social services many of us take for granted is the tenet of Homeless Connect Day in Malibu. Advocates for the needy and unhoused held the seventh Homeless Connect Day last Thursday at the Malibu Civic Center.
After more than a year without the event that connects people to the services they require to get housed or survive without a home, it was sorely needed for the many who attended after a chaotic year living through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kay Gabbard represents the Malibu Methodist Church’s Outreach Program to unhoused people. Gabbard also serves on the Malibu Community and Resource Team (CART) board and the Malibu Community Labor Exchange Board. Los Angeles County Third District Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, along with CART, organized the event that has become vital to our most vulnerable in the community.
Just over 50 people showed up Thursday in front of the Malibu Library and the old courthouse building.
“They didn’t have to be unhoused,” Gabbard explained. “Just people in need of connecting with the services we had there.
“The whole idea of when you live in poverty, when you live unhoused on the streets for any period of time, your life becomes in disarray. You lose your birth certificate, your social security card. You let things lapse that you wouldn’t let lapse otherwise. Mental health becomes an issue. Keeping your identification becomes an issue when you live on the street or when you live in poverty. Things get lost. Things get stolen. This day we try to connect people who have been disconnected from services that you and I take for granted. We try to connect them back to the services they desperately need.”
Some of the agencies that came to last Thursday’s event were the Department of Motor Vehicles to assist those with a lost California driver’s license or those in need of an identification card; Pepperdine Legal Aid Clinic; and the Public Defender’s office to help with housing, eviction, domestic abuse or immigration issues.
The People Concern that works to empower the most vulnerable suffering from poverty, abuse, mental illness and homelessness provided services. Goodwill, the Listening Post, Animal Care and Control, local veterinarian Dr. John Lupo and a host of other agencies took part to offer help. There were agencies to assist with gaining employment and Veterans Affairs.
Health was not overlooked either as UCLA’s Jules Stein Eye Institute brought a team as did the Venice Family Clinic and the Department of Mental Health. Flu shots and COVID-19 vaccinations were given.
Five hair stylists volunteered to give free haircuts to men and women.
“It was amazing,” commented Bianca Torrence, who serves on the CART board of directors. “We want people to get the services to find a pathway to a shelter or the services they need.”
Torrence, who’s been working assisting the homeless for nearly a decade said, “I believe, whether we like it or not, these people live in Malibu and are a part of our community. They’re the less fortunate—more vulnerable. It’s important to touch base with them, find out how to better assist them—not give them a handout, but a hand up.”
Torrence expressed disappointment that she saw no one from the city’s Homeless Task Force and only a handful of Malibu representatives at the event.
“How can you even try to find a solution to a problem if you don’t learn about it and get involved?” she asked. “That’s puzzling to me. We need to find balance and bring harmony to the community.”
Gabbard spoke of her advocacy: “I’ve been involved with unhoused people and people in need for as many years as I can remember. I think it’s the right thing to do. It’s my responsibility to help people who need help. It’s pretty simple for me.”
Gabbard said CART would like to present two Homeless Connect Days each year. Donations to Malibu CART go to buy people furniture, backpacks, bedding, tickets to return home and other necessities.
Contact MalibuCART.org to make a donation or volunteer.