Oregon's Poverty Fighting Network

ACCESS and Community Partners Join Forces with Local Law Enforcement to Address Homelessness

When I think of community partners, I frequently think of other nonprofit Community Action agencies that I work with on a daily basis, whether I am referring participants to them or they are referring participants to ACCESS. I have, for the most part, not thought of our local police departments as a community partner in the same way as ACCESS, RVVCO, Easterseals, and others. After some consideration, I realize that this is wrong thinking on my part.

Every month, the Medford and Central Point Police Departments, the Jackson County Sheriff Department and Adult Probation and Parole conduct a Greenway Sweep to ensure the safety and cleanliness of the greenway in Jackson County. It is a safety concern for the residents and the people who are sleeping along the greenway. As an ACCESS/SSVF (Supportive Services for Veterans and their Families) employee, I have been going along on these sweeps for several months; I admire the consideration, the compassion, and the understanding these officers show as they conduct their sweep.

Our local police and law enforcement departments are acutely and painfully aware of the fact that the community members they must ticket for trespassing along the greenway, for the most part, have no other place to go. So, to encourage the individuals they ticket to seek help and assistance from community partners, the police department:

  1. Puts out the word to local Community Action agencies that they can come along on these monthly sweeps to offer their services to those trespassing on the greenway.
  2. Discards the ticket if the person receiving the tickets reaches out for services. The service provider contacts the lead police officer for the sweep to let the officer know that person is seeking services.

The willingness of local law enforcement agencies to think outside of the box in serving our community, helps ACCESS and our community partners to lead people experiencing homelessness to self-sufficiency.

Submitted by Kevin Knapp