A panel of speakers will address homelessness -- and the related problem of veterans dealing with post-traumatic-stress disorder -- at a "Healthy Communities" forum, set for 7 to 10 p.m. Wednesday, May 28, in the Menlo Park council chambers in the Civic Center, between Laurel and Alma streets.
Mayor Andy Cohen invites people to bring family and friends to join the discussion. Participating cities, he said, include Menlo Park, Portola Valley, East Palo Alto, Atherton and Woodside.
He said he has been organizing the forum for several months, and hopes it will be one of a series on issues shared by local towns.
For the May 28 forum, Mayor Cohen has invited officials from nearby towns to attend, and asked San Mateo Supervisor Rose Jacobs Gibson to speak.
The panel includes:
• Dr. Don Barr and Dr. Lars Osterberg of the Palo Alto Opportunity Health Center, both of whom have researched and written about homeless trends and services in the Bay Area.
• Kathy Espinoza-Howard of Palo Alto's Office of Human Services.
• Dr. Keith Harris of the Veteran's Affairs' Homeless Veteran Program.
"What do you do to help a homeless person?" Mayor Cohen said. "Do you give them money? Do you give them food? Do you volunteer for some organization? These are all good questions that I think people want answered."
If all goes according to Mr. Cohen's plan, the forum will be the first of several aimed at spurring Menlo Park and nearby cities to work together to tackle complicated issues facing the Peninsula and the greater Bay Area.
A forum devoted to keeping local youth out of gangs is scheduled for June 11 in the council chambers, Mayor Cohen said.
This event will be co-hosted by county Supervisor Rose Jacobs Gibson and Shauna Wilson-Mora, facilitation manager of the Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center.
That event is expected to have a panel made up of Menlo Park Police Cmdr. Lacey Burt and Sgt. Eric Cowans; Boys and Girls Club Executive Director Peter Fortenbaugh; and David Cherniss, the manager of juvenile mediation programs for the San Mateo County Superior Court.
Mayor Cohen said a future forum could focus on how to address the impacts of the construction of large residential basements in Menlo Park, Atherton, Portola Valley and Woodside.
"There's a tradition of [cities working together, but for the most part, it's been for isolated issues," Mr. Cohen said. "I think if we team up, and take a sub regional approach to problems in general, more things will get done."