VENTURA, Calif. - Homelessness is a serious issue all throughout Southern California. There are over 500 homeless people in the city of Ventura alone, but that number has dropped since 2012 when there was nearly 700.
The Ventura Police Patrol Task Force along with other local agencies are slowly getting people the help they need to get off the streets. They are on the streets everyday monitoring and dealing with the city's homeless.
The goal is to get people the help they need to stay off the streets and get back into society. Ventura Police work closely with a handful of different agencies like Downtown Ventura, and the Salvation Army, to help those released from jail. But most individuals don’t want the help.
“Sometimes they are service resistant and when that is the case we proactively take enforcement measures against them when they are committing crimes,” said Craig Kelly, the Ventura Police Corporal.
Kelly says police enforcement gets more aggressive with those who resist help, hoping ongoing arrests and regular trips to jail will help motivate a lifestyle change. It’s a method that has had some success.
“I just kept going in and out of jail and got tired of it,” said Daniel Ingraham. “I got tired of the whole lifestyle.”
Daniel Ingraham is a Veteran. He left the Navy back in 2005.
“I used my G.I. bill to be able to go to school and pay for rent, but once the money ran out and no jobs I hit the streets,” said Ingraham. “I was addicted to drugs so that is the main reason why I was out on the street.”
Daniel was in and out of jail a little over a year. Seven months ago he finally took police up on their offer.
“I got into turning point foundation which is a homeless shelter, and then they moved me up to the veterans transitional housing,” said Ingraham.
Daniel is now clean and sober for seven months and just recently landed a job. He says life is great now.
“We still have contact with the homeless that we have hung out with and camped with and stuff like that,” said Ingraham. “They always come up to us saying we look great and how did you do it? So in a way we are an inspiration for them.”
River Heaven in Ventura is one of many transition living areas where there are 21 sheds that people can live in to help get back on their feet.
“This is people that have accepted our help,” said Kelly. “It’s managed by turning point right now. Everyone has a caseworker and they will come out here and check up on them.”
Those working pay a small portion of their rent. Just across a field from the facility is the Santa Clara river bottom where hundreds of homeless still live. The task force keeps dealing with those in the river bottoms and under the freeways. Their job is made harder because transitional living facilities in Ventura are full.
“Right now we are doing an outreach part where we are sending social workers down there and find out who is willing to connect with services,” said Kelly. “We are trying to stay on top of the trash until we can figure out a more permanent solution.”