OC’s new $750,000 vehicle takes social services on the road – Orange County Register

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Even with 19 offices around the county, Orange County Social Services Agency officials know there are people who may have trouble getting to them — and that’s why they have the MRVs.

The newest and largest MRV — short for Mobile Response Vehicle — just arrived and will soon be out on the road to bring county services directly to people at area colleges, homeless shelters and encampments, vaccination clinics, and other community events, including after wildfires or other disasters.

“Anything you can do in an SSA office, we can do here,” OC Community Relations Outreach Manager Catherine Garrett said Tuesday while standing in the $750,000 customized motorhome.

That includes helping people see if they’re eligible for programs such as CalFresh (food assistance) or MediCal (health insurance), signing them up right away, and even printing an embossed benefit card and activating it on the spot.

The new vehicle, which replaces one that was about 15 years old, has a wheelchair lift for better access and multiple computer stations inside where social services workers can look up information and enroll people in the appropriate programs. It’s the largest in a fleet of three — the other two are specially outfitted vans — that have been used to reach people who may not know about the agency, have no transportation to its offices, or aren’t sure they’re eligible for benefits, Garrett said.

The county estimates that over the past five years, its mobile response vehicles have served more than 22,000 people. The new MRV was paid for using county general funds.

“It makes everything accessible and kind of puts our name out there,” she said. When an MRV shows up at events, people notice it, then “come and ask questions, and that’s how they end up getting benefits.”

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