Concerns about the homeless in Redlands abound on social media. This weekend, one post asked if the resources exist to combat the problem. In fact, there is an extensive network of agencies offering to help — if only the homeless would accept the assistance.
The city of Redlands website has a six-page report on the challenge of fighting homelessness explaining why the city can’t just bulldoze the encampments, arrest panhandlers and attempt other potential solutions because of court rulings and state law.
This year’s Point-in-Time homeless count on Jan. 24 found that the number in Redlands increased 21 percent over the 2018 count. The city has the third highest homeless population in the county, second only to Victorville and San Bernardino.
Most homeless people are not panhandlers and most panhandlers are not homeless. The city has launched a “Positive Change, not Spare Change” program that encourages citizens to donate to the agencies that provide homeless services, such as the Family Service Association, instead of giving money to panhandlers.
That Facebook post also asked if the homeless could get medical treatment. Kyra Stewart, executive director of Family Service, said most would qualify for Medi-Cal if they submitted the paperwork. Few do.
Family Service offers monthly service through the Arrowhead Regional Medical Mobile clinic for the uninsured, who can receive general care from a doctor emphasizing services such as blood pressure screenings, diabetes and general exams, she said. There also are various federally qualified health clinics throughout the county that will take uninsured clients at low or no cost.
Besides the city, Family Service works with the sheriff’s HOPE team, which can connect the homeless with a variety of resources. For instance, Santa Claus Inc. will provide a “Belonging Bag” with clothing and other essentials. The San Bernardino-based charity helps 125,000 children each year.
Family Service provides food on a regular basis with the help of Inland Harvest in Redlands and Feeding America, a food bank that provides 2.5 million pounds of food a year to more than 425,000 Inland Empire residents. Family Service also provides weekly showers with the help of Refresh & Renew, which works with the Blessing Center, the Holy Name of Jesus Church and YouthHope.
YouthHope, which works with at-risk young people, held a car show on Saturday in Sylvan to raise money for the cause.
The Redlands Charitable Resource Coalition meets on the second Tuesday at City Hall to coordinate efforts.
Last year, the Redlands Police Department launched a Homeless Outreach Program and hired a community outreach coordinator.
The “Homelessness in Redlands” report released last month by Stephanie Bennett Miranda found the leading causes of homelessness are mental disorder, drug and alcohol abuse, poverty and job loss, and the lack of affordable housing.
Efforts to understand the problem and find workable solutions are extensive. We salute those who are working hard to make a change.