City Attorney’s Office Leads New Approach to Homelessness Service Delivery
October 7, 2020 1:07 PM
by Jenna Grigsby-Taggart
The City of Santa Monica is committed to addressing homelessness in our community through collaboration across City departments and with our dedicated direct service providers. In addition to our street outreach teams, we look for every opportunity to engage with people experiencing homelessness in order to connect them with vital services that are a bridge to stability and housing.
In light of COVID-19’s impact on the regional court system and not pursuing certain crimes and the City’s commitment to connect people experiencing homelessness with wraparound services, we held our first POP citation clearing event last week. The Santa Monica Police Department, Community Services Department, and City Attorney’s Office collaborated with local service providers Alcott Center, Chrysalis, CLARE|Matrix, SHARE! Collaborative Housing, The People Concern, and West Coast Care, to offer services to people who have recently received citations. The goal was to connect people who have received citations for camping in public, sleeping in a doorway, and other quality of life crimes to service providers that can address their needs. The teams followed public health guidelines, including wearing masks and maintaining physical distance to offer a safe experience for all who participated.
Once an individual with a citation met with the different service providers, the City Attorney’s Office agreed not to file their citations with the Court. This pre-filing diversion program allows those experiencing homelessness the opportunity to avoid the consequences of a criminal case and move out of homelessness. Over the last four weeks, officers from the Santa Monica Police Department’s Homeless Liaison Project (“HLP”) team wrote 35 qualifying citations. 15% of those individuals successfully participated and will have their citations not filed in the criminal court system. There were five additional individuals who showed up who were able to access resources, including a CLARE|Matrix intake which led to an appointment for inpatient rehabilitation. Another individual was able to coordinate to receive medical care from the Venice Family Clinic.
In light of the success of the program, the City will be looking at expanding this model in the next few months as another tool to meet people where they are and make connections essential to wraparound supports and housing.