The COVID-19 pandemic has definitely hurt the ability of the homeless to reach out to organizations that can help them.

So one of those organizations, the Central California Family Crisis Center, is reaching out to the homeless.

Several of the center's staff members will be out along the Tule River this morning looking for homeless encampments. The center's housing case manager, Aron Hernandez, said the group will head out to provide needed relief for the homeless at about 10:30 a.m. Today.

He said he's heard there are homeless here who are gravitating to the westside of town along the river, so the group will start west of Highway 65 and make their way along the river to Main Street and Central Porterville, Hernandez said. “They do move around,” said Hernandez about the homeless.

And like a lot of us many of the homeless have dogs to provide them comfort. “Numerous,” said Hernandez about the number of dogs the homeless have, adding many homeless individuals have a number of dogs.

So Hernandez said he's glad 100 pounds of dog food has been donated to provide for the dogs of the homeless today.

He said it's typical for the homeless after they collect cans to have a few dollars and they use that money for items such as rice and beans that goes a long ways and whatever's left over is given to the dogs. The homeless obviously don't have money for dog food so it will be nice to be able to provide the dogs with dog food, Hernandez said.

The number of homeless the group will find today will be hard to determine because many of the homeless have received vouchers to stay at motels. But Hernandez said because many of the homeless also have dogs they choose not to go to motels because they don't want to leave their dogs behind.

It will also be nice just to provide the homeless comfort in general, Hernandez said. The homeless had been dealing with brutal heat last week until the heat wave finally broke on Sunday. And they'll get even more of a break today as the National Weather Service is forecasting a high of 85 for today.

But there's still a lot of the summer left. “The conditions out there can just get miserable at times,” Hernandez said.

And because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Family Crisis Center office on Main and Putnam across from Union Bank has been closed.

“That really places a strain on them,” said Hernandez about the homeless. “The office is a place they come in and cool off.”

The Kings/Tulare Homeless Alliance has also provided hygiene kits for Family Crisis Center staff to pass out. The hygiene kits include a face covering, hand sanitizer and sun screen. “That's really needed for sure,” said Hernandez about the sun screen.

Hernandez also said the center has received a COVID-19 grant for the outreach. The center staff will also be providing 15 boxes of pizza from Little Caesars and cold water to the homeless along the river.

But Hernandez said more donations are needed for center staff to make more trips to reach out to the homeless on the river. “We do it as often as we can,” he said.

Those who would like to make a donation to the family crisis center can call 781-7462.

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