A non-profit organization in Chula Vista says that police have continuously been mistreating the homeless.
Last week, the nonprofit Community Through Hope held a rally outside of Chula Vista City Hall, where two dozen locals were seen holding up signs that read "Housing, not handcuffs". The rally included local residents, advocates for the un-sheltered, and multiple organizations, such as A New PATH (Parents for Addiction Treatment and Healing).
Those activists in attendance said that police have continuously punished and harassed the un-sheltered in their community. Some of them spoke on learning about certain incidents where police have taken survival items from homeless in the streets, such as naloxone, a treatment that is designed to reverse a narcotic overdose in an emergency scenario.
Rosy Vasquez, president of Community Through Hope, stated that this example is just a glimpse of how Chula Vista Police's Homeless Outreach Team approaches un-sheltered individuals in our community. She says that their priorities have shifted from assisting the homeless, to now aiming at criminalizing them.
“It’s been lost and it’s been abandoned,” she said of the team's current objective. “It has gone from helping the most vulnerable experiencing substance use disorder, severe mental health issues and poverty (to) now, they add trauma and barriers for those experiencing homelessness,” she added.
Law enforcement have recently come out to respond to these accusations, denying any allegations that accuses them of seizing personal items from the homeless.
In March, while providing free mobile showers to homeless individuals at their Chula Vista police headquarters, the nonprofit organization stated that police started ticketing the nonprofit's clients who's RVs were temporarily parked across the street at a local park, as they waited for their turn to shower.
Police Capt. Phil Collum stated that while that situation did take place, it occurred coincidentally across the street from the Community Through Hope's mobile shower location, but had nothing to do with Community Through Hope in a direct manner. The police Capt. says they were just responding to multiple complaints involving parking violations.
“Even though the operators were in violation of several ordinances, no enforcement action was taken,” Collum said. “No one was cited or arrested. The location of this activity just happened to be across the street from Community Through Hope’s mobile shower program. But it had nothing directly to do with Community Through Hope itself.” he added.
The police Captain says that he wants to focus on strengthening the relationship between the police department and Community Through Hope, and other organizations that work that targets the same cause.
“Community Through Hope is one of dozens of organizations that we have been, and continue to be, proud to support and collaborate to answer the needs of the homeless community,” he said.