Weary not in doing good, as an old Hebrew Proverb says, but it’s tough to remember day after day when you are dealing with difficult populations such as an entrenched homeless population. EPD, Park and Recreation and other City staff members wade into the area of heavy homeless populations to offer support, find resources and solve problems. We have constructed and put out the MIST team whose sole purpose is to contact the most difficult of the homeless population. One must realize that dealing with the homeless population is tough, messy and difficult work, yet they officers faithfully delve in anyway. Day after day, they contact the same person dozens of time and sometimes the officers find success and get someone housed.
There is progress to report. Eurekan’s need to know all of our efforts are paying off…albeit slowly. If we can fix this problem 20% a year, is it worth the effort? I believe so.
As of late August, two months into our efforts at the MAC here are the numbers:
- 92 people completed eligibility screening for acceptance into the MAC. 76 were from Eureka.
- 51 intakes were completed and 49 entered the MAC. Two were not from Eureka.
- 26 await intake.
- 15 are pending review and need documents.
- Average daily census is 30 people
- 21 people left the MAC
- 3 for violation of substance abuse policy
- 7 for history of violent behavior
- 9 chose to leave
- 14 were house in one of several types of housing
- 9 gained employment while at the MAC
In addition to a successful start, the MAC processes have been examined and improved to increase the ability of the police to get people into the MAC through MIST and Measure Z personnel. EPD has found housing for 10 people over the past 11 months.
Yet homeless problems continue in the City of Eureka. 72% of the arrests by EPD for serious violent crime was committed by the transient population. 87% of robbery arrests were of transient people. So to minimize and reduce the problem EPD is directing the homeless to move to an area more accessible by police, fire and medics. This area is near the poll shed area along the bay. Many have cooperated but those who refuse will be cited and then arrested. Our analysis showed that people living there want isolation, concealment and freedom from theft and the police. The location was attractive because this area provided all of these traits. We are also strictly enforcing the law else where in the city to prevent displacement.
By condensing the population into a fairly large but controllable area it allows the police to treat it as a “hot spot.” Some research would suggest that as little as 20 minutes of treatment a few times a day will help to control and reduce crime and criminal opportunity in hot spots. EPD officers have been directed to as often as possible patrol the area where people camp and arrest those committing crimes. The outlying areas where people are camping illegally will receive maximum enforcement by officers specifically assigned to carry out this effort. Now the big trick…do this compassionately. After all, weary not in doing good.