NILAND, Calif.- The Imperial Valley Regional Task Force on Homelessness hosted a Homeless Connect Resource Fair at the Niland Chamber of Commerce Wednesday. Different agencies provided services for close to 300 homeless people as well as low income families from Niland, including free food, clothes, and eye exams. Task Force Chairman Orlando Johnson says this is a big event because word gets out and people just start to show up.
“A lot of the services that they need these agencies can provide you know so it’s easy for us to coordinate the efforts. All these agencies are part of the task force on homelessness so it’s easy for us to contact them we know what the need are and we bring them to these individuals.” said Johnson.
The free food is provided by CalFresh Giveaway and the clothing is provided by organizations like the Salvation Army and The Sister Evelyn Mourey Center. Coordinator Karen Hall says it took a lot of hard work and volunteers to put this great event together.
“A lot of our communities service workers with behavioral health volunteers and other agencies such as Imperial Valley Food Bank pitched in and met bi-weekly; we had a planning committee and we got the event organized.” said Hall.
The event is put on at least three times a year throughout the Imperial Valley. Johnson says they estimate about 500 people living in the slab area and he says at least 300 of them were at the fair. Slab City residents live without electricity or water systems, so an event like this one came as blessing to many of them.
Jimmy Ray has lived in Slab City for about five years, he says he really benefits from these types of events. “It’s positive for the community because there’s a lot of people that need help in our neighborhood.” A couple that go by the name of “Clown Star” also live in the slabs and they say, “we think it’s great that people are willing to help each other we’ve spent time in a lot of big cities and you don’t see that human connection that you do here and even in slab city we’ve seen a lot of people helping each other.”
Organizers say it’s important to host these types of events in Niland, since a lot of the surrounding residents do not have transportation to travel outside of the city to get the aid they need.