Measure A funds have allowed the expansion of an innovative homeless outreach program to San Mateo County’s coastal communities, which one police captain there says will help bring social services to those individuals who need it most.
Pacifica police Capt. Joe Spanheimer said this week the county Board of Supervisors’ September approval of $300,000 to bring the Homeless Outreach Team to the coast helps his department continue its pursuit of being proactive in helping its local homeless by identifying those who need services and referring them to the proper service providers for help.
The HOT is a collaborative countywide effort between the San Mateo County Human Services Agency’s Center on Homelessness, InnVision Shelter Network, San Mateo County and local agencies and services such as the Half Moon Bay and Pacifica police departments, as well as the Pacifica Resource Center and Coastal Hope, Spanheimer said. The expanded coastal program includes Pacifica, Half Moon Bay and the unincorporated areas in between.
The program, which began in Central County, in the cities of East Palo Alto, Redwood City and San Mateo, seeks to engage chronic homeless people, those suffering from addiction and incapacitating mental illnesses and bring them the services they need to become self-sufficient.
The HOT formula worked in the trial cities by dramatically reducing medical and law enforcement costs associated with the individuals in the program, according to Spanheimer.
Pacifica and Half Moon Bay police, along with some of the areas social service groups have been discussing the need for a program like this for more than a year now, Spanheimer said. But the Measure A funding allows the discussion to become action.
The program, which officially launched this week, adds one full-time outreach professional for the cities of Half Moon Bay and Pacifica and a part-time employee for the surrounding areas.
The program works by reaching out to the homeless who are the target of the most merchant and residential complaints to police and the highest visits to county emergency rooms for medical treatment. By developing a rapport with the individual, the HOT team works to link the person with medical and behavioral services and eventually works to find the person housing and employment.
The program, according to Spanheimer, is a great way for law enforcement to help get those who need it most back on their feet and give them the tools they need to have permanent residency and employment.
“It’s about us being proactive, that’s law enforcement’s role in it,” he said.