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Why Are More Homeless People Coming to Concord?

Police have noticed unfamiliar faces joining the city's homeless population recently. Have you seen more homeless people on street?

Concord's homeless population has grown in the last few months as the police department and homeless outreach workers see an influx of unfamilar faces. 

The reason is due in part to non-violent offenders being released from prison through California's AB 109 law, according to Lt. Robin Heinemann. The law aims to reduce the state's budget deficit by removing around 33,000 inmates from the California prisons by May 2013.

"There are a significant number of people who don't have anywhere to go," said Heinemann.

Another contributing factor is a lessened police presence on the streets of downtown Concord in recent months, said Heinemann, which was caused the temporary suspension of a full time position due to injury. 

Heinemann said the department plans to be back to full strength beginning Monday, when foot and bicycle patrols will be active every day except Sundays from 7 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. The department won a grant from the Brenden Mann Foundation for $47,000 that is helping fund bicycle patrols downtown.

The influx of homeless people could also be caused by other agencies clearing out homeless encampments in multijurisdictional areas, said Heinemann.

In , Police Chief Guy Swanger said that the department is working on a system of tracking the effectiveness of homeless outreach methods. He added that the numbers for the first half of the year, from January through June, show a significant decline in calls for service and money spent by the city on homelessness and chronic inebriants.

There were 1,022 calls for service in the first half of 2011 and 583 during the same period this year.

Type of Expense 2012 Cost (Jan-June) 2011 Cost (Jan-June) Calls for Service $84,010 $147,270 Homeless Camp Cleanup $2,600 $5,160 Hazardous Material Cleanup $400 $2,420

Concord is served by Central County Homeless Outreach, an organization that dedicates every Thursday evening to working with the homeless population in Concord. Founder Doug Stewart says there are around 1,200 homeless people in Concord a night, and only 175 beds at county shelters.

Have you noticed more homeless people in Concord or a change in the homeless population? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Fred J. Salas September 15, 2012 at 03:23 PM
The city ( or cities ) should buy each one a ONE WAY Bart ticket to someplace else, even offering a ride to the Bart Station to make sure they get on. Has anyone ever thought of this idea before? Would it work? Or is that too costly?
Emily Henry September 15, 2012 at 07:53 PM
Fred, that's an interesting idea, but then they'd just be moving from town to town and would probably end up making the rounds back to Concord. That's one of the reasons there has been an increase lately, as other agencies clear out their own homeless encampments, sending the occupants elsewhere.
J wiley September 16, 2012 at 04:03 AM
It just seems to be getting to be bigger & bigger problem. You cannot go into a store or stop at a stop light without someone begging for change & the begging is getting more aggressive each day. You see more of the homeless sleeping in parks. I have 2 young children & I no longer feel safe taking them to the park to play.
Concord Mike September 17, 2012 at 12:58 AM
According to the article "Founder Doug Stewart says there are around 1,200 homeless people in Concord a night". Does anyone seriously believe that is true? Where are they all hiding? Do we have 1,000 of them under a bridge? Sounds like either a typo (should have been 120, not 1200) or this is a gross exaggeration of the problem.
Emily Henry September 17, 2012 at 05:03 AM
Mike: the last homeless count in Concord put the number at 967 persons, according to the police department. I'm getting more information about what these numbers mean, and will post a follow-up to clarify.

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