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Homeless men, including Roberto Garcia, left, Donald Carr, right, and Samuel Vazquez, eat snacks left by outreach workers during the Homeless Count, which takes place every two years, in Richmond, Calif. on Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2011. The count helps advocates observe trends in homelessness and helps ensure the county receives adequate federal support for homeless services and housing. (Dean Coppola/Staff)

Regional and national leaders who fight homelessness will be in Richmond next week for the third annual conference hosted by local organization Saffron Strand.

"Defragmenting the Homeless Continuum: Linking Pathways to Self-Sufficiency" is the theme of the conference June 18-19 at the Richmond Memorial Auditorium, 403 Civic Center Plaza.

Saffron Strand is a membership organization dedicated to helping homeless people in Contra Costa County find decent jobs and reach economic independence.

The Richmond-based program provides membership for free to homeless adults in return for their time and work at its center, including training intended to make them employable.

The organization was joined by Mayor Gayle McLaughlin for an overnight vigil May 26-27 at Civic Center Plaza to show support and concern for homeless people locally and around the county.

According to county officials, an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 residents are homeless at some point during the year and about 5,000 at any given time.

The conference is co-hosted by the city's Human Rights and Human Relations Commission and the West County Mayors and Supervisors Association. Workshops and other sessions with 10 expert presenters in the fields of employment, health care and housing will discuss approaches to issues such as job training, transportation, recovery from substance abuse, physical and mental health and shelter.


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The conference is open to individuals and public and private agencies working to eliminate homelessness, as well as those who have experienced it.

For more details, call 510-275-9594, visit saffron strand.org or send an email to info@saffronstrand.org.

Contact Chris Treadway at 510-262-2784 or ctreadway@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/christreadway. Stay up-to-date on West Contra Costa news at IBABuzz.com/westcounty.

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