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.