Deputies Offer Help Instead of Citations at Homeless Camp

LODI -- The San Joaquin County Sheriff's Office went through a homeless camp in Lodi on Friday, but instead of arrests and citations, they offered something else -- a helping hand.

"I feel sad for multiple reasons for these people that they’re in a predicament of this nature in their life," said Lt. Joe Petrino.

It's no place for anyone to live but Petrino says a number of people call the roughly built buildings home.

“However, it is my job to have compassion, to have empathy and to provide the resources," Petrino said. “We’re out here to offer them the resources and help them.”

The sheriff’s office joined several organizations to offer various resources like housing, mental health services and rehabilitation from substance abuse.

“It gives us a better sense of how many people are out on the streets and it gives us an idea of where they are," Ready to Work Executive Director Jon Mendelson said.

Ready to Work helps coordinate some outreach efforts.

"It also gives people on the streets an idea that there are resources available, where to find the resources and that there are people out there who are willing to engage them," Mendelson said.

While the three men FOX40 met refused help and did not want to talk on camera, Mendelson says it’s this kind of contact that builds trust and eventually gets them out of the camps.

“Because a lot of them have lost hope and don’t have a lot of connections to the community, so this is an effort to try and bridge that gap," Mendelson said.

Part of the issue that homeless advocates have been talking about is the lack of affordable housing. Mendelson says we’ll most likely hear more about the issue in the coming months.