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Council Members Propose Social Workers Oversee Homeless Outreach Instead Of Police

Homeless outreach specialist Jessie Angeles Jr. drives his work vehicle aroun...

Photo by Tarryn Mento

Above: Homeless outreach specialist Jessie Angeles Jr. drives his work vehicle around areas in North Park where people without shelter typically gather, March 7, 2019.

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Two San Diego council members are proposing using more social workers and fewer police officers to do homeless outreach in the city.

Aired: June 3, 2020 | Transcript

Two San Diego council members are proposing using more social workers and fewer police officers to do homeless outreach in the city.

The proposal would be modeled after the PATH program in the Mid-City area. In that program, a social worker travels along the streets and into the area's canyons to offer snacks, toiletries and a range of services to homeless residents. The social worker can help homeless individuals get an ID, food stamps, health insurance, cash assistance and hopefully a spot in a housing program.

"So he goes there every single day, he's building relationships, he's intimately understanding the client and eventually there's trust that gets developed over that relationship. That's when he starts figuring out, what's the best program for you to be placed in," San Diego Council President Georgette Gomez told Midday Edition. Councilman Chris Ward is partnering with Gomez on the proposal.

RELATED: Imperial County Slow To Spend $1.7 Million In State Aid To Help Homeless Residents

Gomez said the PATH program is having higher rates of success than outreach done by police departments. In 2019, a single outreach worker from PATH managed to help nearly 60 people move from the streets into housing.

Gomez joined Midday Edition on Wednesday to discuss the proposal.

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