Do "service offers" accompany "homeless sweeps" where you live?

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Tue, 27 Jul 1999 20:25:14 -0700 (PDT)


Are there programs which combine "offers of services" with "police sweeps"
of homeless people from business and gentrifying districts in your
community?

How have such programs affected homeless people's daily lives?

Have these programs improved homeless people's prospects for freedom,
safety and the material resources to survive and thrive?

Can you cite personal experience or other credible sources for your
conclusions?

For a tough-love "carrot & stick" program example, see the article below:

http://www.uniontrib.com/news/metro/990727-0010_7m27fontana.html
FWD  Union-Tribune - July 27, 1999

     CHULA VISTA GROUP SETS SIGHTS ON BRINGING
     SUCCESSFUL HOMELESS PROGRAM TO THE CITY

     By Luis Monteagudo Jr.
     Union-Tribune Staff Writer

CHULA VISTA -- A program that has won national recognition for getting
homeless people off the streets in San Bernardino County may be coming here.

"It's kind of like a neighborhood watch for the homeless," said Jerry
Rindone, a former Chula Vista councilman. He is part of a coalition of
business and civic leaders trying to raise support for a local version of
the Transient Enrichment Network 4-Fontana.

The program has helped homeless in Fontana find jobs and apartments. It
also has clamped down on homeless who have harassed shoppers and residents.

Rindone, principal of Hilltop High School, is working with restaurant owner
Henri Harb and two Chula Vista police officers to spark local support for
the Fontana program, known as TEN-4.

One of the officers, Oliver Demery, had attended a community policing
conference and heard about the program's success. He talked to the people
behind it, and they agreed to spread their message to Chula Vista.

In the past five months, TEN-4 directors Deylyne McCampbell and Margo Smith
have visited Chula Vista three times to discuss details of their program
with civic leaders.

Started three years ago, the program began as an effort by Fontana citizens
to combat the problem of homeless people who bothered residents and
customers of businesses.

"They were aggravating people," McCampbell said. "People were afraid to go
out and shop."

McCampbell, senior pastor at Lion Heart Ministries, met with business
people, police and others and came up with the idea for a program to help
the homeless get off the streets.

"That is done by us finding out their true needs and getting them back into
society," McCampbell said.

He and others set out to talk to all of the city's homeless and ask them
what they needed. But the program also offered a tough-love type of help.

"We tell them you need to get with the group or leave town," McCampbell
said. "We don't play with them; we don't patronize them. We can get you a
job, get you clothes, help you get an apartment."

Homeless people who accepted the offer were directed to the TEN-4 office,
in an old strip mall on a busy street. There, they could get bus vouchers,
clothes and even take a shower.

"We're a processing center," said Smith, who also is a pastor at Bethel
Christian Fellowship Assembly of God.

Since the program started, it has moved 900 people off the streets, said
McCampbell and Smith. They added that 92 percent of the people they've
talked to found work or housing.

"Those that want to get off the streets, we get off the streets,"
McCampbell said.

For their efforts, the program has been honored by the National League of
Cities and an international police group. It also won a $94,000 grant from
the federal Housing and Urban Development Department.

Not that the program has been able to help everyone.

McCampbell and Smith said Fontana has about 75 street people who survive on
Social Security payments or savings, and prefer to live on the streets.

"Everyone in the city knows them," McCampbell said. "They were born in
Fontana, and they're going to die in Fontana."

Chula Vista admirers of the program said it's needed here to address
problems caused by some of an estimated 150 homeless people who live in the
area.

They have been responsible for such problems as burglaries, vandalism and
harassment of citizens, said Demery and fellow Officer David Edwards.

"Right now, there's a Band-Aid approach," Demery said. "We get them, arrest
them for a day and they come back. We need something long-term."

Rindone, Harb and the officers plan community meetings to rally support for
the program and find volunteers willing to get it off the ground.

"It's going to take a lot of effort," said Harb, co-owner of Mr. V's Pizza.
"You can't just do something like this all gung-ho and stop."

Harb said volunteers or others wishing to offer support can call the
restaurant, (619) 691-6339.

Rindone said the group also hopes to make a presentation to the City
Council to get its help.

"We need to realize Chula Vista is growing up, it's developing problems
similar to larger cities," Rindone said. "The homeless problem is not going
to cure itself. Chula Vista cannot be an ostrich and put its head in the
sand."

END FORWARD

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