CARLSBAD, Calif. (KGTV) - “Right now, it’s worse than I’ve ever seen it in my life. I see a new face come through here every day,” says Gregory Parada of Carlsbad. He has been homeless for several years.
The City of Carlsbad reports there’s a growing number of homeless people in the community. A team of specially-trained police officers have been doing homeless outreach for the last eight months. As of last week, the City Council approved a $245,000 contract with Interfaith Community Services which will provide two full time socials workers to assist with outreach in the field.
On Saturday, 10News was granted permission to ride along with law enforcement during “compassion enforcement”, as the city calls it. “That's as simple as connecting them to a family member [or they] might have hygiene needs and we have hygiene kits that we got from a bunch of nonprofits," says Sgt. Bryan Hargett. These officers are working to get the homeless population the items and services they need.
The city of San Diego still has a much bigger homeless population than Carlsbad. According to San Diego County’s WeAllCount report, there are 4,912 homeless people in the City of San Diego. There are only 210 homeless people in the City of Carlsbad, but that’s up from 160 homeless people in Carlsbad last year.
Davye Sauermilch tells us she’s considering getting help after her interactions with the officers. "My boyfriend's now in rehab because of these guys,” she adds.
“I guess they protect me. I feel fine about them,” says Parada.
Sgt. Hargett explains, “If they don't trust us, we're not going to be able to work together.” He adds, “One of the things we're learning about being out here is consistency. It could take us 30 contacts [with a person] and on the 31st they're like, ‘Hey, I want help now.’”
Outreach coordinators will report back to the City Council on the progress of the initiative later this year.