Typically, they help clients at the Family Resource Centers in Central and South Regions of Health and Human Services Agency.
Social workers Shalissa Olmeda and Alejandra Palafox and Human Services Specialist Deborah Murguia are working at Clay Park in the Rolando neighborhood of San Diego.
They’re working at a table in the middle of Clay Park at the request of the Rolando Community Council, which asked HHSA to come to the area to offer homeless people public assistance and other services, including resources to mental health and substance use treatment—services that are available at Family Resource Centers.
“Some people are hesitant to go to an office, so we come to them,” said Olmeda. “We offer them all eligibility services as well as case management.”
The Central and South Regions Homeless Services Team consists of social workers and human services specialists. Some are stationed at the local homeless shelters, some partner with local business associations and other homeless services providers, and some of them are part of HOT (Homeless Outreach Teams).
Found in many regions of the county, Homeless Outreach Teams usually consist of police officers, a Psychiatric Emergency Response Team clinician and HHSA human services specialist. They go out on a daily basis and try to engage persons ready to commit to getting off the streets. The team will assist them by facilitating their placement into an emergency shelter and linking them with appropriate services.
The trio of employees has been working at Rolando’s Clay Park a few hours on two days each week since early August and will be there through the end of the month.
The Central and South Regions Homeless Services team offers services at parks, churches and different community events. At Clay Park, they were able to help several clients, including a woman and her three children who needed a permanent place to live and is now getting assistance with the Section 8 rental assistance program. They also helped a man who inquired about shelter information and employment resources.
The team has recently done outreach at Willie Henderson Park and earlier this year did a month-long outreach in the Hillcrest area of San Diego. These are only a few examples of the work they do in the community.
“When we’re out, we see a little bit of everything,” added Olmeda. “We see people with substance use, mental health and other issues.”
Palafox said that by being outside in the community, it helps them build trust with prospective clients who may not want to visit an office and wait.
“We give them hope and a sense of stability so that they can turn their lives around,” said Palafox. “It’s very rewarding.”
Because the Homeless Services Team members are mobile, they can work remotely and help people in need.
“It’s good to get out of the office and bring services to the areas where they’re needed,” Murguia said.