Homeless Outreach Team celebrates three years

Homeless Outreach Team celebrates three years

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LUBBOCK, Texas - The Homeless Outreach Team is celebrating three years. It is a unique unit at the Lubbock Police Department that is responsible for serving and protecting people suffering temporary or chronic homelessness. The team has helped house seventy-five people, whether through direct placement or a bus program.

"The key factor for housing is mainly for the folks who are chronically homeless and those are the ones that we see and deal with all the time. When you start getting those folks off the streets, that's when you can see the quality of life for the community get better," Sergeant Steven Bergen said. 

Along with a home, the "HOT" team helps with transportation, doctor's appointments, and ID's. 

"A lot of what we do is connect people to other services. Our program is one of the few that's like boots on the ground, that are actually dealing with the homeless on a daily basis, we're going to them instead of them having to come to us," Bergen said.

Sergeant Bergen said his team has evolved over the years.

"At the beginning we kind of struggled with that, like how do we fit into this, and not just that, even with the homeless community, how are they going to receive us, so it was building that trust not just with the community partners but also the homeless individuals, so it was tough at the beginning and now it's kind of evolved and we've kind of found our place as far as when we do come into contact with someone, we know what services are there and how to get them connected to those services," Bergen said.

Along with Corporal Antonio Chacon and Officer William Trotter, there's a fourth team member this year. Justice, the therapy dog helps the officers engage with anyone who needs the help.

"Justice doesn't look like your average K9, she has the big floppy ears and kind of happy go lucky attitude, so people usually people do the little side ways look, what is that, what is going on, and as soon as they kind of see her tail wagging, it's usually can I pet the dog, so it's been overwhelmingly positive," Bergen said.

The team's hope for the future is to utilize Justice even more and house even more individuals.

"The thing is you put them in a home, then you go get them the rehabilitation, so when they get out they have something stable to go back to, they can continue that process of staying on their feet and not having to fall back into that place on the streets," Bergen said. 

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