REDDING (AP) — A police chief in Northern California has drawn criticism from homeless advocates for saying charities are to blame for attracting more transients to town by offering them services, a newspaper reports.
Redding Police Chief Robert Paoletti urged residents to put pressure on the local charities to make them more accountable, and he suggested increasing a program called Journey Home that sends transients back to their hometown by bus, the Record Searchlight reported Saturday.
Paoletti said an annual survey of the homeless does not ask why they came to Redding, but the chief said he began instructing his patrol officers to inquire. Many homeless named as their reason two local charities, the Hope Van and Good News Rescue Mission, Paoletti said during a recent town hall meeting.
Word often spreads among the homeless about communities that are the friendliest, Paoletti said.
Jonathan Anderson, director of Redding’s Good News Rescue Mission, told the newspaper that he cautioned against shipping homeless away by bus because they may not have the support needed to overcome problems leading them to life on the streets. He said that 17 people in the last year have used the Journey Home program.
“I don’t want us to be accused of going and dumping people in other communities,” Anderson said. “I just don’t think it’s ethical.”
Anderson said his charity has helped over 130 people in the last year find permanent homes and others enroll in college and treatment programs.
Dean Germano, director of the nonprofit Shasta Community Health Center, said the chief isn’t considering the chronically homeless. Many of them are longtime community members, who suffer from addition and mental illness and include veterans. He said the community’s homeless population of about 3,000 has remained constant for the last decade, refuting the chief’s claim that it is recently rising.
Paoletti could not be immediately reached Saturday by The Associated Press for comment.