Riverside City Council members held a meeting Oct. 11 to hear from residents, business owners and nonprofit and governmental organizations about the city’s homelessness problem.
Riverside officials are considering a variety of programs to address the homeless issue in the city.
Phil Pitchford, communication officer for the city, said the meeting was designed to bring awareness to the issue.
“We had a conversation about what we might be able to do as a city to make progress in terms of getting people off the street,” Pitchford said. “It is a big puzzle with a bunch of different pieces and to figure out how all the pieces will come together.”
There were many initiatives proposed, such as churches providing temporary housing, outreach efforts including
substance-abuse counselors and homeless courts resolving citations and minor infractions.
Tim Mellinger, associate pastor at First Baptist Church of Riverside, said he liked how Mayor Rusty Bailey wants to find ways for the church, government and nonprofit organizations to partner together.
“Churches in Riverside want to partner to make a difference for homeless people, but many churches don’t have showers,” Mellinger said. “There are challenges that would have to be figured out in how churches and the government can partner best to help people who are homeless.”
Some of the suggestions included having communityoutreach teams and other resources to help assist homeless people.
Dr. Douglas Wallace, assistant professor of sociology, said he is not sure if there is going to be a vote on city funding to use these solutions.
“The funds could be made available by churches and government funds as long as people are comfortable that it will actually be used for that,” Wallace said. “But doing that and how we do it are two different issues.”
According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, approximately 26 percent of homeless people live in California, in which homelessness is becoming a problem for many cities, such as the city of Riverside.
Katelyn Thompson, junior business administration major, was one of many California Baptist University students to attend the meeting and hear about the issues presented.
“Since I attended the meeting with other members from our ministry, I know solutions were discussed, but nothing has been put into place,” Thompson said. “I did like that the city would be directly involved with assisting the people with
staying in the church and assisting the churches with aspects such as training.”
The city council has not made any final decisions, but Pitchford mentioned there will likely be another meeting regarding the issues brought up in this past meeting.