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Deputies Team Up to Help Solano County’s Homeless Community

FAIRFIELD -- Thursday was day three of the Solano County Sheriff's Office "Homeless Outreach Program."

Deputies and members of other local agencies went to various homeless encampments throughout the county with the goal of getting people off the streets and into the Mission Solano Homeless Shelter.

Cops, counselors and county mental health advocates have teamed up, reaching out to the homeless in the various places they've made home and urging them to seek shelter and get long-term help.

"My wife and my kids and myself were in an abandoned shack there," said Jonathan Carpenter. "I literally was slamming dope and neglecting my family in that situation."

Carpenter, who works for Mission Solano, a nonprofit that houses the homeless population, was part of the collective team contacting those who needed help.
He is a success story. Just four years ago, Carpenter and his family were on the other end, homeless and hungry.

"In the middle of winter, we were actually in this abandoned concession stand and the water was coming down from a skylight,"  Carpenter said. "And my 7-year-old at the time was, 'Daddy, I'm freezing. What do we do?'"

Carpenter said things were so bad that he contemplated just giving up. "There was even a point where I felt like taking my own life. And they said, 'We can help you. We can give you the tools.'"

Tools to end his drug addiction and tools to change his whole way of thinking. Deputy Aaron Wilson created the "Homeless Outreach Program," which teams up various law enforcement agencies, mental health counselors and clergy who all work side-by-side for several days on the streets.

"We've been doing it now for two years and every time we come out we do a two- or three-day event," Wilson said. "Each time we get a little bit better at what we're doing. We get more people into the shelter, we get signed up for services and overall it's a big success.”

Residents are also grateful that the homeless aren't just being shuffled from one place to another.

"If they're gonna help them get into shelters, that's wonderful. Get them off the streets and the parks," said Fairfield resident Vic Portillo.

Ruben Padilla hired a homeless man, who was able to straighten his life out. He's been working at Padilla's barber shop for a year now.

"I think it's a collaboration of everybody just doing a little bit of helping out," Padilla said.

"We hope to do it quite a bit. The more we do it, the more we enforce it, the less problems we have long-term and more lives we help," said Deputy Cully Pratt.

In the past three days, deputies have contacted more than 100 homeless people and 14 are now at the shelter. As of Thursday, five more were on their way.