Posted: Jan 30, 2010 10:57 PM by John Romero
A city council vote on whether or not to enact a no-camping ordinance is just around the corner begging the question were will the homeless go? For around a month now the El Paso County Detox Facility has been taking homeless in as part of a sobering bed program. So far it looks like a success. "In January we did start to see an increase in numbers so that is good news." explains Chief Paula Presley of the El Paso County Detention Bureau. "People are actually flagging down police officers and we have some code enforcement people working and they've been driving people out. People are going." adds homeless advocate Bob Holmes with Homeward Pikes Peak.
For CSPD's Homeless Outreach Team it's already become a very useful tool. "When we hear the old adage, they won't let me in because I've been drinking or I don't have a choice, I have to stay on the creek, we can say no that's not the case." explains CSPD Hot Team member Officer M.J. Thompson, "We do have a place that you can go and they don't care that you've been drinking. They don't care if you might have used some recreational drugs. And we don't have to worry about them freezing to death!"
The hope is by bringing in the homeless for a night, long term rehabilitation could be a possibility.
"We want to be available to them because you really never know when someone is going to make the decision they want to lead a different life." says Presley, "We can help them do that." If the ordinance does pass, police think the sobering beds could become even more vital. "It helps us with enforcement." says Thompson, "It's a lot easier to enforce a camping ordinance, if it does pass, if we have a place for them to go."