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County's homeless get some help at Project Connect

In its fourth year, Project Connect — a day of free services, information and items for the homeless — drew a crowd at the end of January, but attendance was lower than the year before.

About 650 people attended the day-long event Jan. 25 at the Sheridan Park Community Center in Bremerton, according to Phedra Elliot, event coordinator. The year before the event drew about 1,000 people.

Elliot said the decline in numbers doesn't mean homelessness in Kitsap County is less of a problem.

"Many agencies would tell you things are worse and people continue to struggle," she said. Elliot said the snow from the previous week before the event could have been a factor, many agencies were closed and the word may not have gotten out to everyone.

About 60 different agencies or organizations were at Project Connect giving advice and help to free hair cuts.

One hundred and sixty-three people received free vision screenings and the Salvation Army and Bremerton Rescue Mission talked to about 200 people each.

In 2010, 633 people self-identified themselves as being homeless, according to a point-in-time count taken place in winter. Of that number, 108 were families with children, said Elliot.

The year before, the total count was 672 homeless people.

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