The COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIP on HOMELESSNESS
CPoH is a grassroots, all-volunteer group of caring, concerned Palm Springs residents and local business owners advocating for solutions that will reduce the number of unsheltered people on the streets of Palm Springs, many of whom suffer from substance abuse and/or mental health issues.
Palm Springs residents and businesses feel deep compassion for the unhoused population and frustration with the resulting civic degradation. We expect county and city officials to take effective action to mitigate this growing humanitarian and civic problem.
We envision a future when unsheltered individuals are identified, triaged and guided into a full continuum of care that includes the expectation all will work towards self-sustaining futures. This will require full commitment, support and coordination from Palm Springs, Coachella Valley and Riverside County leaders, law enforcement, courts, district attorney, public defenders, homeless service agencies and the community.
Does the CPOH provide direct services to people experiencing homelessness?
No. While several of our members volunteer for direct service organizations, we do not intend this group to become a service provider. Instead, we investigate existing community services, and propose to our elected officials and/or private stakeholders ideas that will improve current programs or create new programs and/or government policies.
Why not let the homeless population stay the way they are?
We see people suffering on the streets. We care about them. We also care about our fellow residents, business owners and the tourists who come to Palm Springs to experience this beautiful city. We all deserve clean and safe streets. We are all suffering. Ultimately, it’s in the community’s best interest to find a comprehensive solution to the problem.
The problem seems to be getting worse. Why isn’t the City doing more?
Riverside County is legally responsible for delivering services that help the indigent. It historically has floundered in its focus on the issue. Services in Palm Springs have been haphazard, piecemeal and temporary. However, 2021 brought significantly greater attention and money to programs including:
* approval for over 120 affordable housing units including some with permanent supportive housing options
* a new drop-in Access Center under professional management that replaced the failed operation on Calle Encilia run by Well in the Desert
* approval to fund and build a Navigation Center
* temporary closure of Baristo Park with the intent of clearing out illicit drug activity and making it secure and accessible for local residents and their children.
Why are the organizations that provide direct services today not enough?
Homelessness is complex. Its underlying causes are often economic hardship, alcoholism, drug addiction, mental illness or a combination of those factors. Current programs and services in Palm Springs do not address the root causes of homelessness or help these people return to self-sustaining lives. The current programs in Palm Springs provide only day-care services. Day services offer some relief but are not part of a comprehensive solution and do almost nothing to shorten time on the streets. Addiction and alcoholism treatment along with mental health services are necessary but not widely accessible or delivered effectively.
What’s missing with all these services?
Our community and unhoused people deserve new thinking and wide-scale innovation from elected officials. City and county leaders, law enforcement, the courts, district attorney and public defenders, and community health service organizations all need to reorganize around this crisis to create a holistic, coordinated, and comprehensive system of intervention and care.
- The majority of individuals living on the streets are affected by mental illness, substance abuse, poor health, or a physical disability. We have a moral imperative to get these people help, in a way that respect their civil liberties. It is not humane to leave people who need help alone on the streets.
- We understand that a lack of affordable housing, especially in California, combined with unsustainably low wages is a significant factor in the growing homeless population.
- While California has recently committed substantial funding for “housing first” programs, more money and effort is needed to expand county-wide capacity for substance abuse and mental health treatment.
- Unhoused and unsheltered people suffering from substance abuse, mental health issues and behavioral problems need a more comprehensive set of interventions than those suffering primarily from economic hardship.
- District attorneys, public defenders, the courts, law enforcement, homeless agencies and local governments must collaborate across the county to alter programs and laws that will allow for diversion into treatment facilities when appropriate.
- Once a person’s life is on a healthier path following completion of appropriate treatment programs, any misdemeanor records should be expunged in the court’s discretion.
- Conservatorship guidelines and ordinances must be strengthened to help people who can not take care of their own most basic needs and are potentially a danger to themselves or others.