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Rodriguez does ride along with Oceanside Police Homeless Outreach Team

I did my first of 2 HOT ride alongs this past Thursday, April 18th from 8am to 3pm. My first hour was a briefing with HOT which comprises of 2 specially trained Oceanside Police officers and 1 contracted social worker. We rolled out in the HOT Van around 9am to patrol beach and pier areas to check in with "Clients", all homeless are referred to as clients. If "any" services are provided the "client" elects to be voluntarily enrolled in a county database called Clarity (https://www.rtfhsd.org/hmis/). Clarity is an improved way for ALL local jurisdictions to keep track of individuals helped and to better collaborate on the regional problem of homelessness.
Almost immediately the HOT team officers noticed a “client” we will call "Jane", who had pitched a tent at Tyson park (see photo). Jane is an active drug user and alcoholic, after about 7 interactions with HOT, Jane finally has had enough of the streets and wants to get sober and so the social worker mad arrangements to get Jane checked into detox and an Escondido based women’s program called “Serenity House” where she will go through an intensive 90 program of recovery, healing and life skills training to prepare for a transitional sober living back into society. According to HOT, it takes 7 to 10 interactions to build enough trust before a “client” accepts help to go into a variety of programs and to get off the street. One of the keys to success with Oceanside HOT is the approach and relationship building that takes place between HOT and homeless population.
HOT wears a different uniform that’s less threatening than standard issue, they also ride in a Van and not a “black and white” which helps make interactions less intimidating. The social worker is in civilian clothes and balances out HOT. Everywhere we went the homeless recognized HOT and the officers and social worker new everyone by name and when they did not recognize an individual, they proceeded to ask unique questions in an attempt to figure out next steps to enroll them into Clarity and develop report. We had multiple interactions with clients all morning including a veteran who HOT referred immediately to a specialized social worker to get services, a Carlsbad resident that HOT referred back to Carlsbad for assistance by Carlsbad HOT and several individuals just passing through Oceanside. The HOT team prioritizes Oceanside residents.
In my assessment the HOT approach is effective and productive, the day was overwhelming and my small glimpse of multiple successes had a long history of failed attempts before an individual commits to wanting help. HOT has mastered the art of relationship building with the less fortunate. The HOT social worker works toward the goal to help those that are willing to get off the street and into a program and on a pathway to self-dependency. Oceanside needs another HOT to cover parts of Oceanside that the current HOT is just not able to get too. The need for HOT is real and the approach is working.
The population of homeless we interacted with were NOT from the riverbed. The riverbed population is a unique and hardened subset of homeless that from my understanding do not have any desire to change their life style. I have a planned tour of the riverbed area coming up before my next HOT ride along. I will keep everyone posted as I get to the heart of ensuring that your tax dollars are being spent on solutions that are effective and backed with results. OPD is working on providing monthly stats on all the results that HOT is getting done as they constantly evolve to make Oceanside safer.
Happy Easter and God Bless
Christopher Rodriguez City Councilmember District 2

Paid for By Rodriguez for Oceanside City Council 2018 # 1405642
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