With the lifting of many coronavirus restrictions, the City of La Verne is proud to announce the resurgence of its La Verne Police Department (LVPD) Homeless Outreach Services Team (HOST). With the support of neighboring communities including Pomona, Claremont, Irwindale, West Covina and Azusa, the LVPD HOST team makes contact with local homeless populations and works with them to provide the necessary resources to help lift individuals out of homelessness. They conduct this outreach two to three times per week.
“Tailoring our approach to each individual allows us to ensure that they get the resources they need to get back on their feet, whether it be veteran assistance, mental health care or temporary shelter placement,” said LVPD Sergeant Michael Martinez. “Since starting this regional approach, we have noticed progress in addressing the size of the homeless population throughout the region. Additionally, by focusing on outreach and providing resources as opposed to relying on enforcement efforts, we are seeing an increase in cooperation and willingness to take part in the resources offered.”
While the entire police department is regularly trained in the basics of conducting this type of outreach, there are ten designated HOST program officers that specialize in the local resources available to the regional homeless population. Each LVPD HOST officer has their own area of specialty, such as acting as the liaison with specific partner organizations like Hope for Home. The program focuses on building relationships, providing resources and enforcement process education.
The HOST program not only works closely with nearby cities, but also with mental health services including Tri-City Mental Health and Union Station Homeless Services. These programs provide counselors who advise HOST officers on how to best approach various situations. These mental health partners also conduct homeless outreach and help coordinate temporary housing, provide mental health and medical resources, conduct landlord outreach, provide financial assistance, and food and clothing referrals.
Despite the police department’s temporary pause of its HOST program due to COVID-19, the City also implemented additional programs to aid both at-risk and homeless individuals during the pandemic. For example, the City partnered with Union Station Homeless Services to launch a Prevention and Diversion Program that provides assistance to families and individuals at risk of experiencing homelessness. Through this program, financial assistance is being provided to help cover rent, utility bill, moving, food and transportation costs to community members in need.
“Although we understand this is a complex and statewide challenge, we are committed to working with our panthers to do all we can to provide the resources and assistance necessary to thwart homelessness,” said Yvonne Duran, City of La Verne Community Services Manager. “I encourage all La Verne residents to get to know these resources and refer both at-risk individuals and those already struggling with homelessness to these programs.”
In addition to providing services and resources directly to those in need, the City has also leveraged grant funding to help address regional homelessness issues and regional affordable housing goals by partnering with the San Gabriel Valley Regional Housing Trust. The City also partnered with the Los Angeles County’s Southern California Regional Energy Network and the Department of Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services, as well as the Cities of Baldwin Park, Duarte, Irwindale and West Covina, to launch the Green Pathway Career Program. This program will provide education, training, and vocational certification in the energy efficiency industry to Transitional Age Youth vulnerable to homelessness.
To learn more about various resources or access contact information, please visit the City’s online homelessness resources.