A new law enforcement/social-services collaborative is operating in the East County to help hundreds of chronically homeless people in the area turn their lives around, officials announced Monday.
The East Region Homeless Outreach Team was created in response to recent increases in problems involving those who live on the streets, according to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.
The types of incidents prompting the more frequent calls for service range from crimes perpetrated against the homeless to mental health issues to illegal activities stemming from substance abuse.
“Public safety is for all,” Sheriff Bill Gore said. “It makes no difference who you are or your status in life. If assistance is needed, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department partners with (other) agencies to ensure everything that can be done for our residents will be done.”
Along with Gore’s agency, other entities taking part in the effort are the Health and Human Services Agency, the Psychiatric Emergency Response Team and the El Cajon Police Department. The goal is to provide services and seek lasting solutions for the long-term homeless in eastern San Diego County, whose numbers are estimated at roughly 750.
To that end, the new squad — which consists of sheriff’s deputies and El Cajon police officers, human services specialists and a PERT clinician when needed — provides evaluations and assessments of mental health and needed social services, along with substance abuse referrals.
While in the field, the team conducts follow-up visits with clients and searches for and contacts homeless people where they live to offer assistance.
“Working with county health officials and homeless experts, we can make a real difference in getting people the help they need while improving neighborhood safety,” county Supervisor Dianne Jacob said.
While similar programs exist in the cities of San Diego and Oceanside, such an outreach effort is new to the East County.
— City New Service
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