Hillcrest Vagrancy Task Force

by on July 23, 2012

July 24, 2012
TO: HBA Business Owners
FROM: Hillcrest Vagrancy Task Force
RE: Reducing Vagrancy in Hillcrest

Recently concerned residents and business owners in Hillcrest got together to work on reducing the vagrancy population in Hillcrest. After considerable self education about the issue (including meetings with Todd Gloria, the police, a downtown group with a similar goal and touring a shelter), a new group, called the Hillcrest Vagrancy Task Force (HVT), was formed. Our current members are Anne Haule, Tim Gahagan, Ali Rheem and Sean Cute.

The goal of HVT is to reduce the vagrancy population in Hillcrest through a number of practical actions. The first strategy is to identify “hot spots” (locations where vagrants gather). At its most recent meeting, the Hillcrest Town Council provided a list of a number of hot spots.

We now ask Hillcrest businesses to do the same. Please take a few minutes to send us a reply listing hot spots in Hillcrest of which you are aware.

Once we have a comprehensive list of hot spots, we will communicate with those property owners (be they residents, businesses or churches) and ask for their cooperation. Specifically we will ask them to sign a Letter of Agency that allows the police to remove vagrants from their property. We will also request that they regularly contact the police to remove vagrants and that they consider instituting environmental designs on their property to reduce crime. Depending on the severity of the problem, we may also request that owners ban together to hire security guards to maintain the property free form vagrants. Additionally, we may contact the corporate offices of those national companies with locations here in Hillcrest to alert them to the problem and solicit their support.

For your information, we have attached a description of the Letter of Agency as well as examples of environmental design to deter crime. If you haven’t already done so, please sign the Letter of Agency and forward it to the police. Also, please review the design ideas and implement those that make sense for your situation. Lastly, let us know if you want to help out and if you have other ideas.

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July 25, 2012
7:24 pm

Thoughtful and smart people working to humanely solve a problem is the hallmark of Hillcrest. I don’t see the attached description of the Letter of Agency or the design ideas mentioned in the last paragraph. Am I missing something?
The Letter of Agency form won’t let me change the end date! I hate it when a document thinks it knows best.
Keep up the great work.

July 31, 2012
10:03 am

HI Jamie, here’s the attachment for the letter of agency: http://hillcrestbia.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/letterofagency2.pdf

July 31, 2012
10:04 am

Also, if you’d like to further get involved, please contact annehaule@ymail.com — Anne is the Hillcrest Town Council President and a great leader in this effort. Thank you!

August 12, 2012
5:50 pm

Great Idea and a good start

Some additional points:We have to educate the businesses that having vagrants loitering on their property, in front of their businesses are a detriment to Hillcrest.  (McDonalds, Jack-in-the-box, 7-11 etc).  It gives the impression that the business does not care about the community.

Do not provide any food or money to vagrants and attempt to direct them to the appropriate agency.  Not to sound harsh, but providing food or money is not solving the problem.  Getting the services and help is important.  We should be directing these folks to the appropriate group and advise them that the neighborhood wants to help them help themselves.

Aggressively target those vagrants who do not live or belong in the neighborhood.  Continually contacting your representatives and police of any vagrants loitering or causing issues.   

Keeping our neighborhood clean.  The city should replace all garbage cans with lockable trashcans so vagrants cannot open them.  This would deter them from coming into the neighborhood as it sends a clear signal that they are not welcome.

In our condo complex, a group of neighbors took it upon ourselves (as the police and city did not want to bother) to start a watch group and completed the letter of agency, patrol our property, report vagrants who are loitering and have met with the HOT team, police and explained our frustration.  Since we started this a year ago, the homeless/vagrants understand coming near our property is not a good thing.  The number of issues has dropped dramatically, we have had 4 different vagrants who had outstanding violent warrants.  Overall a progressive solution.  We have helped over 13 homeless get the help they needed and have not seen them in our neighborhood.

Education is the key to all businesses, citizens and politicians.  

September 13, 2012
8:37 am

Are these people pigeons or something?  We just shoo them away?  If you want to solve homelessness, we need to work to solve the issues that create it.  What facilities do we have available for these people?  Where can they get drug/alcohol treatment?  Mental health treatment? Food and shelter?  Or are we all content with the old “out of sight, out of mind” approach?  I certainly am not. 

September 28, 2012
7:56 pm

And may I ask, what are you doing to help?  Have you researched the city/county/state programs available?  Or are you just waiting for someone to feed you the information?  Take some accountability and responsibility and be part of the solution instead of complaining on “what should I do? Where are the facilities?  Where are the treatments?  Food & Shelter?

No they are not pigeons, but when you have business after business, resident after resident continually calling police to address vagrants that wont move off their property, trespassing and causing a disturbance to our beautiful Hillcrest it can be quite taxing for them.  
Numerous calls to the police in Hillcrest have to do with transients/vagrants who are causing more problems.  Listen to the police scanner or ask your council person for the data…you will be surprised the number of calls relating to vagrants.I have attempted to provide food for homeless only to be yelled at because I wasn’t giving them money (which more than likely is for their drug habit).  So I don’t any longer.  Giving them money is not the solution either.  Many times I address them to find out the issue and then direct them to the proper agency.  Many times you find that they have chosen to be homeless and don’t care.  I would prefer those who are not going to help themselves move on and out of Hillcrest…they are not welcome and these are the ones that cause more problems than not.I have seen numerous vagrants sitting behind businesses shooting up or smoking meth/pot.  This is not what our businesses and especially what our residents and visitors want.The help is easy to find, they county has the health center in the midway area,  You can go online and find services available so you can provide this information to a vagrant when you see them.We should have a program where instead of having vagrants loitering and not doing anything, we can  work with the Hillcrest Business district to start a program where these folks can begin to clean graffiti, pick up trash, remove stickers from signs, etc. In exchange for a voucher for preferred bedding at Father Joes/or the homeless shelter, food, etc.    I would be more likely to support this program and provide money as a business to those vagrants who want to work and support a community they are down trodden in and want to call home.   Those who just sit around on the corner begging for money and not contributing to society, not so much!