The Coast News Group

Police HOT Team partners with county services

OCEANSIDE — The Oceanside Police Homeless Outreach Team (HOT) is set to launch a partnership with the County Health and Human Services Agency this month to better serve city homeless.

The HOT Team is a unique police outreach effort that connects homeless individuals with needed services in a focused effort to end homelessness.

The county partnership adds a part-time social service worker to the HOT Team office and officers’ field visits.

This increases the police team’s ability to link homeless individuals and families to needed services, and boost community health and safety.

The social service worker remains a county employee, with no cost to the city.

A future goal is to have a full-time county social worker assigned to HOT Team efforts.

The Police HOT Team was established in November 2014, and began field operations in January 2015.

A myriad of duties are undertaken by Oceanside’s two HOT Team officers to provide homeless individuals the resources and means to acquire permanent housing.

While there is no “typical” day on the job, routine duties for officers include responding by email and phone to referrals, setting appointments with homeless clientele, and answering field officers’ requests.

Additionally HOT Team officers take service providers on ride-alongs to locate and assist homeless individuals, response to citizens’ complaints, attend monthly meetings with service providers, and lead community group and police trainings. As well as, respond to standard police priority calls for service.

A lot has been accomplished in two years.

The team established a downtown office on North Nevada Street. Thursday office hours are kept for meetings with clients and service providers, and conducting housing assessment interviews.

“Establishing office hours where homeless individuals can come to assess their specific needs is one milestone,” Oceanside HOT Team officer Josh Ferry said. “Other outside entities such as Alpha Project and Interfaith Community Services are available during office hours.”

The HOT Team also utilizes a custom designed van to shuttle service providers into the field, and transport homeless to needed services such as the Department of Motor Vehicles, the Social Security Office, local day centers for basic needs, and to detox.

The team’s efforts have made an impact. Homeless individuals have achieved sobriety, mental health relief, and found permanent housing.

“The most significant change is that we have been able to help the city’s homeless get housed,” Ferry said.

Addressing the needs of city homeless takes a village. Police have formed partnerships with Bread of Life, Brother Benno, the Department of Housing, Exodus Recovery, Health Human Services and Aging, independent living facilities, La Posada de Guadalupe, McAlister Institute, Mental Health Systems, Regional Taskforce for the Homeless, Tri-City Hospital, and Veterans Affairs.

Most partners are a part of the North County’s 25 Cities Initiative to end homelessness.