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County, U.S Census looking for "hard-to-count"

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(MONDAY, APRIL 05, 2010) County, U.S Census looking for "hard-to-count" homeless By James Wagner, Staff Writer Posted: 03/31/2010 04:21:05 PM PDT ROWLAND HEIGHTS - Even after a year of living on the streets, Rick Carver, 58, doesn't have pleasant memories of his first night. After his lender foreclosed on his Rowland Heights home, he said he threw as much as he could into a shopping cart and went on his way. "I had no clue where to stay," Carver said Tuesday, dressed in a dark flannel shirt and worn jeans. Carver and friend, Luis Vasquez, 52, have survived on the streets of the San Gabriel Valley for nearly a year. On Tuesday, they stopped at Schabarum Park for an outreach hosted by several county agencies geared to count and aid homeless like them. Though Carver and Vasquez say they're fairly self-sufficient, they welcomed the three-day event. Angel Sapien, 23, who is homeless, is weighed by Azusa Pacific University nursing student Jennifer Macasieb during the Los Angeles County Sheriff's homeless clinic at Schabarum Regional Park Tuesday, March 30, 2010. (SGVN/Staff Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz) "We don't see too many smiles," Carver said. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department organized the event as a way to give free aid to the local homeless, Deputy Paul Archambault said. It also gave local U.S. Census Bureau officials a chance account for the area's homeless, he said. "These homeless are the hard-to-count ones," Archambault said. "You have to give them a nice carrot to get them out here." Mounted deputies went into the hills of the park to encourage homeless who stay there to receive free help. The Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and other organizations are participated. Vaccines, check-ups and legal advice was offered to anyone who needed it. Michele Colon, an El Monte podiatrist, took a day off work to check on the homeless. She brought eight bags of donated shoes to give to the homeless, who she said often have worn and sprained feet and ankles from living on the streets. "I wanted to do it," she said. "I felt the calling to." Nearly 575 people came to all three events, the first of which was held at Bassett Park in La Puente on Monday, organizers said. Photo Gallery God Provides Ministry Food Bank, a Native American Christian Food bank serving the greater Los Angeles provides food and Christian music in support of Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department and Los Angeles County Health Department with Homeless Outreaches. Free Medical Clinic for Homeless The third day was held Wednesday at Charter Oak Park in Covina. About 300 homeless were counted by the census officials, Archambault said. Sheriff's checked outstanding warrants of homeless people voluntarily, he said. But free legal advice was on hand. Sixteen people were booked and issued new court dates, and one was taken into custody for an outstanding felony warrant, he said. The Buddhist Tzu Chi Free Clinic, based in Alhambra, had mobile dental station for dental help. Census officials handed out $5 gift cards for food to people who filled out the forms. Carver and Vasquez said they signed up and received a gift card for McDonalds. Local church groups also helped. Allan Espinoza, director of South El Monte-based God Provides Ministry, said the event help show the area's homeless the services available to them."They don't know about all the programs," he said. The recession has forced more families out their homes and struggling to live, he said. Carver said he is hoping to get a job with the help of the county's Department of Public Social Services - and eventually, off the streets. Homeless outreach events such as these are reminders that people care about them, Vasquez said. "It gives me hope for something better," he said. james.wagner@sgvn.com 626-962-8811, ext. 2236

 

 

 

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