The El Centro Police Department created a special unit to offer the homeless community resources - 13 On Your Side's Vince Ybarra reports
EL CENTRO, Calif. (KECY, KYMA) - The El Centro Police Department recently started receiving more calls about the homeless community. Officers there responded by creating the Community Relations Unit. It is aimed to help offer services to those in need of a home or resources.
“We do the outreach portion where we go and offer help and you know, see what it is they need,” said Sergeant James Thompson who is head of the Community Relations Unit.
Those on the Community Relations Unit partner alongside local nonprofits to give resources to the community in need. One of the nonprofits is Spread The Love.
Spread The Love helps provide items for the homeless shelter. They also help people in need get in contact with loved ones, buy a bus ticket or help find a housing locally.
“We try to see if we’re able to house them if they have some kind of income. That is our main thing, we try to house them,” said Lisa Garcia, a case manager for Spread The Love.
Garcia said the communication between the El Centro special unit and Spread The Love is great. Partnered together, they have been able to house 67 locals this year.
Although there are some who refuse to get help from Thompson and programs like Spread The Love.
Thompson said the programs that help feed the homeless only band-aid the issue and don't really help combat the problem of homelessness.
“We’re obviously out there trying to help the homeless but there’s a difference between a handout and a hand up,” said Thompson.
One other issue is not having a program accessible to people who need help and shelter. Thompson said he hopes a program to offer help 24/7 to those who need it will happen soon. Until then, he says he plans to continue to clean up our streets by offering a hand-up versus a handout.