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Socialize

BELLFLOWER CONDUCTS FIRST PHASE OF HOMELESS CENSUS

 

BY TAMMYE MCDUFF

By way of background, when the City did a survey of Bellflower residents and how they perceive the city to be working for them, one of the major concerns were the numerous homeless encampments. 

At the beginning of 2019, the city engaged the services of City Net to provide solutions on the homeless situation, the first thing City Net did was to conduct a survey of what the city is up against.

At the last council meeting, City Net Representative, Brad Fieldhouse gave an update on their first three months of work. 

The goals for first phase were to “exit” the homeless, that is, get homeless off the streets, while prioritizing vulnerable cases and connecting the homeless with city agencies and regional housing solutions. 

In April, May and June, a total of 214 contacts were made with homeless people. “This is the beginning of establishing trust,” says Fieldhouse, “whether working with public safety officers or driving our van around town – these are individual conversations that we have had. It takes at least six meetings with an individual for them to trust us and sit down to talk.” 

As a result, people began acalling City Net for help. At first there were only two, however in three months that number has risen to 16. Referrals to city or state services are an initial action to connect the homeless. The total number of persons referred was 160, with two people being completely exited off the streets into a housing situation. 

The second component is to support the coordination of homeless activities in Bellflower. In the month of April, City Net drove / walked the city to prepare maps for the forthcoming Bellflower homeless census. A meeting was held with Kingdom Causes Bellflower after which a “case conferencing” meeting was held with city staff and other stakeholders. 

On day one of the census, City Net staff and Sheriff personnel fanned out across the city in the early morning and engaged the homeless in an effort to collect demographic information and gauge the scale and scope of the homeless in the city. The second day, staff and personnel returned in the evening to revisit those mapped locations and engage homeless neighbors who may not have been present during the day hours.

City Net Representative Matt Bates discussed the Homeless Census mapping project. The entire scope of the city was covered twice, and several clusters were acknowledged.

The census identified 172 homeless individuals within Bellflower, most identify themselves as white in their 50’s, disabled and homeless for over a year.

40 percent stated they struggle with mental health concerns and 31 percent were dealing with substance abuse.

Of those surveyed, 68 individuals were chronically homeless, had permanent disabilities with no source of income or access to health insurance. The survey also found that two respondents had children or accompanied minors.

Respondents reported that the primary cause of their homelessness was housing loss due to not being able to afford rent, foreclosures or landlord disputes. Case management found 78 percent of respondents expressed interest in working with City Net on a plan to end their homelessness.

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