By Eric Heinz

Tuesday through Thursday, May 23-25, local agencies will offer free assessments for homeless families in need of resources.

Families can meet with volunteers who will help log their information and the situations they currently face.

The assessments are geared toward families who are homeless by federal definition, which includes living in their car, places not meant for human habitation or a hotel paid for an agency, Family Assistance Ministries’ (FAM) executive director Mary Perdue said.

“This is the first countywide assessment, and eight agencies (participating) will share the information among themselves,” Perdue said. “The idea is we’re all in this together, and the goal is to help the county collect the true number of homeless families. Many (homeless families) hide during the Point-in-Time study. They’re afraid they’ll lose custody of their children. That’s not what this is about. It’s about helping people get the services that they need.”

The Point-in-Time study is a census taken by volunteer organizations every two years to try to accurately gauge the homeless populations in Orange County. The full report is expected to be released in June.

The organizations participating are FAM, American Family Housing, Families Forward, Mercy House, Pathways of Hope, South County Outreach, the County of Orange, 211OC and The Children and Families Commission of Orange County.

“Based on best practices nationwide, we will follow the key framework: Housing First, finding out who is out there, tracking our progress and improving local systems,” a FAM press release stated. “You can help by sending families with minor-aged children who are living in their car, living on the streets, or camping to one of the assessment sites. They will complete a questionnaire at the assessment site, which takes 30 minutes to an hour. No appointment is necessary.”

The families will receive a food gift card as a “thank you” for participating.

The assessments take place Tuesday through Thursday, May 23-25, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. There is no Tuesday assessment at the Laguna Niguel location, and that location’s hours will be 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Assessments will be held at:

San Clemente: FAM Resource Center, located at 1030 Calle Negocio

Dana Point: San Felipe de Jesus Catholic Church, located at 26010 Domingo Avenue

San Juan Capistrano: Community Presbyterian Church, located at 32202 Del Obispo Street

Laguna Niguel: Laguna Niguel Presbyterian Church, 30071 Ivy Glenn Drive

For information and additional assessment sites, visit www.homelessfamiliescount.com.

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