In response to Steve Villano’s letter ("Homeless encampments spreading along Napa River," Nov. 29) I wanted to provide some additional information.
As you have heard, the city and county have been working collaboratively to better address the homeless issues throughout Napa city and county. These efforts have included hiring a Homeless Services Coordinator and contracting with a provider (Abode) to provide homeless services. Even with these changes, we continue to see individuals who either cannot or will not seek assistance. These individuals are commonly found near the Napa River.
The area described by Mr. Villano is within the flood control area and it has been an area we have been dealing with for many months. Our homeless outreach teams have had contact with at least 36 homeless people living on this section of the River Trail (Third Street to the Imola bridge) in the last few months.
I do not have housing numbers from Abode but Napa Police Department Outreach has housed five and connected eight more with family and friends for housing. Abode has also been working in the area and has helped about 15 people into shelters for housing under the "Continuum of Care" system.
This was a solid effort to relocate many homeless people from the area into housing or shelters, but it also freed up space for other homeless to repopulate the area. This left a visible trail of old camps and new camps over a large area in a short amount of time.
There are about 16 homeless people still remaining in the area and they have all been contacted by outreach teams, information provided to them and suggestions have been made for immediate use of the Winter Shelter.
The city is working with representatives from the Flood Control District regarding cleaning up the area at the end of this week and working collaboratively with Abode to ensure space is available for affected individuals to move into shelters.
There are many causes behind individuals becoming homeless and some of these can go unchecked for a lifetime without proper professional help. We ask those who want to help this population to encourage individuals to move into shelters or to seek professional assistance. Both the county and the city provide information regarding assistance through their websites.
Steve Potter, chief
Napa Police Department