Over the past few days, we've heard from a number of residents with concerns and questions about people described as transients or homeless. The following information is a collective response from city staff and law enforcement partners at the Poway Sheriff's station who work on issues related to homelessness and maintaining our community's quality of life here in Poway:
Thank you for your concern about the quality of life in Poway and for residents in our community that are living unsheltered. Our entire region is facing growing levels of displacement as more people struggle to afford housing. Even when it hasn’t been as visible in our “city in the country,” we have not been immune to it. Responding to homelessness requires a multi-faceted approach. While we continue to work with our regional partners on this issue, we know that it is not something we can do by ourselves. It takes a coordinated partnership between the local, state and federal governments alongside of the private sector, nonprofits, faith community, and others for the best results.
In Poway, it’s our city’s goal to connect people who are homeless with the services they need. Annually, in partnership with other cities in North County, the City of Poway budgets funding for the Alliance for Regional Solutions which provides a regional system of emergency winter shelters, several year-round shelters, and case management services to transition individuals to permanent housing and other needed services.
When our Sheriff’s Deputies are in contact with homeless individuals they relay the individual’s name and location to the County’s Health and Human Services Agency, who in coordination with a contractor, sends outreach teams to Poway to reach out to the individuals and offer information about services and resources available to assist them. The Sheriff’s Department station in Poway is also fortunate to have a PERT (Psychiatric Emergency Response Team) clinician working in the field with deputies. The PERT clinician is a trained mental health professional who can assess an individual's mental health condition and needs, and, if appropriate, transport individuals to a hospital or other treatment center, or refer him/her to a community-based resource or treatment facility.
When you see something that is of concern to you in Poway, please remember that not everyone who is offered help will accept it, and merely being homeless is not a crime. A recent court ruling underscored that sleeping in public places (sidewalks, streets and other public property) is not a criminal activity. However, please know that if you find personal items being stored on public property or an encampment on either public or private property, you can report it to our city’s Code Compliance officers at 858-668-4660 or email@example.com. It is important for residents to understand that the City cannot simply remove personal items, we are required to post notice that gives individuals a minimum of 48 hours to remove their personal items. If items are not removed within that timeframe, the City is responsible for collecting and storing the items to give the individual additional time to retrieve them.
We encourage anyone who sees illegal activity or is concerned about their safety to contact the Sheriff’s department. For non-emergency events call 858-565-5200. For a crime in progress call 9-1-1.
The City will continue our efforts to respond to homelessness through our strategic regional partnerships for service coordination and address the immediate impacts of homelessness to the extent the law allows, to ensure a safe environment for everyone in our Poway community.