Fullerton Police Department homeless liaison officers and volunteers with the Coast to Coast Foundation have been partnering for four years to help the city’s homeless population.
That partnership just got stronger.
Recently, the City Council unanimously approved an agreement between the FPD and Coast to Coast that gives the homeless community 24-hour access to the nonprofit.
Coast to Coast already has been providing meals, clothes and motel vouchers and paying for transportation to reunite homeless citizens with families around the country.
The nonprofit will continue providing those services and now will staff an office in the police station, have a 24-hour hotline and direct e-mail account.
“The biggest thing is that we will basically be the go-to for anyone who has homeless- related issues,” said Marie Avena, Coast to Coast founder and director. “This is not just good for the police department, but for the community.”
The increased availability of Coast to Coast also allows officers, who can sometimes take hours dealing with a homeless-related call, to respond to more urgent calls for service, Police Chief Dan Hughes said.
The direct hotline also frees up 911 operators to handle more pertinent calls, the chief said.
“It really just seemed to be a great fit considering what they (Coast to Coast) have already been doing,” Hughes said. “This just enhances that.”
A report to the City Council stated that Coast to Coast volunteers have made contact with homeless citizens in Fullerton nearly 3,500 times since 2014.
That outreach has resulted in close to 150 homeless individuals being reunited with loved ones, or placed in transitional or temporary housing or substance abuse programs, the report said.
“Coast to Coast is one of the most effective homeless outreach programs I’ve had the opportunity to work with,” Hughes said. “I wanted to make sure we will always have something in place in the city of Fullerton.”
While the agreement with the FPD will help staff the office and hotline, Coast to Coast still relies heavily on donations and volunteers and hopes its upcoming Casino Night fundraiser (see info below) will bring in enough money to help the nonprofit continue to provide a high level of service.
To learn more about volunteer opportunities, go to coasttocoastfoundation.org
More information about the FPD homeless liaison program can be found at fullertonpd.org. Click on the “Meet the Team.” Select “Specialized Units” from the drop-down menu and then click on “Homeless Liaison Officer Unit.”
Coast to Coast Foundation Casino Night 2016
Why: The event is Coast to Coast’s only fundraiser, and the money raised is used to help the nonprofit provide services to the homeless and break the cycle of homelessness.
When: Saturday, Nov. 5, from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Where: CF Ballroom, 116 E. Commonwealth Ave., Fullerton
Cost: Adults 18 and older, $50; Children 5 to 17, $25, includes $500 in casino chips, drink ticket, door prize, food and no-host bar. VIP tables are also available for $300 and $500. To purchase tickets, go to coasttocoastfoundation.org and click on the “Events” tab.