Locally, the Los Alamitos Police Department has a Homeless Liaison Officer program to coordinate resources and actions to address those challenges impacting our local community.
What are Homeless Liaison Officers?
Homeless Liaison Officers (HLO) are designed to be the initial point of contact with chronic homeless individuals living on the streets and members of our community. The HLO seeks out and engages chronically homeless persons and, for those who are willing, attempts to provide them with resources and to help find them housing linked with appropriate services.
The HLO will work to assess the homeless person’s problems, and identify how to help them from a range of solutions. Whether their homelessness has been caused by loss of income, psychological problems, substance abuse, lack of job training, or other problems, multiple options can be available to assist each person. This approach not only provides short-term answers but also develops permanent solutions.
HLOs from various law enforcement agencies work towards a common goal of breaking the homeless cycle one person at a time by sustaining immediate needs for homeless individuals to connect them with sustainable wrap around services, to move individuals off the streets and connected to services. Donations are used for bus passes, food gift cards, water, socks, clothing, sleeping bags, relocation money/assistance back home to family, motel vouchers, address utilization, back packs, bicycles, and California ID/DMV fees.
HLOs are assigned to patrol and other assignments who recognize the need in the community for the rapid provision of resources to the homeless community. They receive additional training on mental illness and how to connect the homeless population with available services and resources. This is done by communicating and collaborating with multi-disciplinary service providers and partnering governmental agencies including South County Outreach, Orange County Mental Health, Veterans Services, Families Forward, to name a few. These organizations help provide the individualized and specific support needed to address unmet life necessities. These necessities include short term and long term housing, employment opportunities, mental health services, food gift cards, gas cards, socks, clothing, and hygiene kits which the HLO officers have access to for those in need. HLO’s have also transported homeless individuals to the Department of Motor Vehicles, the Social Security Office, and to various courts and government offices to assist them in navigating the system to receive Identification cards, renew driver licenses, pay court fines, and setting the individuals up with employment opportunities to help them get their lives back on track.
Homeless Liaison Officer Shawn Watkins’ focus is to identify and assist homeless individuals who would like or accept assistance to secure housing, employment opportunities, mental health services, veteran’s services and hygiene kits.