County initiates program to help Homeless

Homeless Program participants removing Graffiti in East Harris County.
Homeless Program participants removing Graffiti in East Harris County.

HARRIS COUNTY – Last week, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzales launched a workforce development program in collaboration with Harris County Precinct 2 and Career and Recovery Resources, Inc. that supports those experiencing homelessness in east Harris County.

According to the Coalition for the Homeless, nearly 4,000 people in the Houston area are experiencing homelessness. This innovative partnership – rooted in community development – empowers our most vulnerable neighbors with the tools, skills, and support to help them overcome barriers to success. It connects program participants to affordable housing, employment resources, and other critical services through Career and Recovery Resources, Inc. It also allows them to earn an income by completing community development projects.

Commissioner Adrian Garcia’s Office funded the six-month pilot program, which actively recruits participants and provides them with transportation, meals throughout the workday, personal protective equipment, and the necessary training and tools to properly remove graffiti from bridges, roads, and buildings. Weather permitting, participants will have the chance to work on a first come, first served basis Monday through Thursday for about $50 a day.

Homeless Outreach Team deputies are in the community doing all they can to help those without housing. We have dedicated Deputy Medina to the program to coordinate with our partners on worksite locations, crew schedules, transportation needs, and other important logistics. He is serving as the program lead.

Their work continued this week in the Channelview and Cloverleaf areas and will eventually expand to other quality-of-life and community beautification projects in east Harris County, such as removing trash from illegal dumping and maintaining clean parks.

On Thursday, participants started their day with warm showers and fresh clothes at Hope Center Houston before attending a Resource Day at Career and Recovery Resources, Inc. There, staff and volunteers shared more information about their comprehensive services, which range from job training to counseling and peer support. Participants also received on-site health screenings from UTMB Health and assistance applying for a Texas Identification Card and Harris Health’s Gold Card, a lifeline for affordable medications and clinic visits.

Homelessness is among the most important, complex issues facing our criminal justice system today. The Sheriff said we must work together to address these issues through multi-faceted strategies and compassion.

This workforce development program is an example of community policing and what can be accomplished when law enforcement agencies and the community come together.

The Sheriff’s office is proud to be part of this collaborative approach setting a viable path forward for those experiencing homelessness. Although our partner agencies have different missions, we’re all united around the call to serve our most vulnerable neighbors and keep everyone safe.

HCSO Continues Mental Health Training Aimed at Helping Deputies Respond to Residents in Crisis

“Whether they go to detentions or patrol, (they) have to go through 40 hours of mental health training and then 16 hours of de-escalation training,” said Sgt. Jose Gomez.

De-escalation training includes scenarios. In one of them, an inmate at a detention center threatens suicide and deputies attempt to de-escalate the situation.

150 deputies are also equipped with tablets that can connect people in crisis at a scene directly to a psychiatrist at The Harris Center.

“When they go to a call for service and they need to talk to a clinician or need an assessment, they’re able to pull out the device,” said Gomez.