APPLE VALLEY, Calif. – Serving the homeless requires a multifaceted approach. Not all homeless people fit into a box that many who do not have the proper experience and education put mentally them in. The feelings toward the homeless vary; and in all honesty, most are correct. Some believe they are all amazing people who fell on hard times and a good portion of them are. Others believe they are mentally ill and/or addicts, which is true for a large percentage of the homeless. Few believe that they are all criminals or all “bad”, those need to know that “homeless” cannot be placed into one category. Just like the rest of the population, homeless people, like any other people, live with many different circumstances.
The Town of Apple Valley hosted a Homeless and Opioid Forum on Tuesday, February 12, 2019. This is the first of a series of education and collaboration attended by over 40 stakeholders and led by Councilmember Curt Emick. “This is not going to be our last meeting,” said Councilman Emick. “This was just the kickoff to what is going to be a series of meetings in which multiple cities are represented as well as many local non-profits currently dealing with these issues. The mission here is really to bring everyone under one roof to discuss these problems and come up with solutions together.”
The event discussed the correlation between opioid use and homelessness, and more importantly, some strategies to improve them. Included in the group was the Sheriff Department’s Homeless Outreach and Proactive Enforcement (H.O.P.E.) team. The H.O.P.E. Team provides outreach and resources to the unsheltered homeless. The San Bernardino County Behavioral Health staff also attended to provide their input and knowledge, since Substance Use Disorder is classified as a mental illness.
“We need to focus on the individual as a whole,” said Behavioral Health Director Veronica Kelley. “As these citizens face challenges that include addiction, mental and physical health, we should understand that they need more than just food and affordable housing. This is an important conversation to foster.”
A follow-up to Tuesday’s meeting has been set for June 4.
For more information, contact Jennifer Maravillas at the San Bernardino County Department of Behavioral Health at (909) 383-3952 or email Jennifer.Maravillas@dbh.sbcounty.gov.
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