Lompoc police, local agencies working on plan to remove homeless - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Lompoc police, local agencies working on plan to remove homeless from riverbed

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Lompoc has a high population of homeless living in its riverbed and officials say the area has become a dangerous place. 
The chief of police called for all agencies at Tuesday's city council meeting to come together and figure out a plan to help these individuals get out of those dangerous living conditions and get the services they need. 
Fights, theft, sexual assault and even a murder involving those who live in the Santa Ynez Riverbed have all been recently reported. 
"If you go down to the riverbed, it is not healthy. A lot of trash, open surge, and obviously in November, the murder is kind of a red flag that tell you there is some lawlessness in the riverbed," said Chief Pat Walsh, Lompoc Police Department. 
Chief Walsh says it's gotten worse in the last year and crime is on the rise.
About 100 people are living in the riverbed, including families with young children.
"No child should ever have to live homeless and no mother should have to put their child to sleep in a homeless situation, and that's where we have to step up and do something about it," said Brian Halterman, manager of the BridgeHouse Emergency Shelter. 
With the green light from the city council, Chief Walsh will create a plan alongside service partners to move these individuals out of those living conditions and remove all of the debris from the riverbed.
"For some, this may seem draconian but really, I think it's compassionate that we get them out of the situation they are in and help them towards services," Chief Walsh added. 
The plan may take a few months to put together but many service agencies are already on board, including the BridgeHouse Emergency Shelter. 
"The biggest reason is that we don't see that next generation of kids growing up homeless again. At one period of time we had three generations of a family, a grandma, a mother and a child, living on the streets," Halterman added.
"There is a lot of service-resistant people in the riverbed but there are a lot of people that if they were just nudged a little bit would seek services and get help," Chief Walsh said. 

The plan is at its beginning stages, but the chief said the people living in the riverbed would get plenty of notice beforehand. 

Once asked to leave, there will be many services provided to them, like showers, food and, hopefully, shelter for the first couple of days.

Chief Walsh also said the amount of debris in the riverbed could take weeks or even months to clean up. 

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