Riverside Program Assists Inmates at Risk of Homelessness

City News Service Pristine Villarreal

RIVERSIDE (CNS) – Roughly a half dozen detainees released from the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside without a place to sleep and at risk of homelessness have received assistance under an outreach program implemented earlier this year, officials said Friday.

“Project Connect” was approved by the Riverside City Council in January, leading to an agreement with Victory Outreach Church to manage “reentry services” for eligible inmates released from the downtown jail.

“When I became mayor, I launched a multi-pronged approach to the homeless crisis — an approach that includes intervention, as well as prevention,” Mayor Patricia Lock Dawson said “If we can focus on preventing people from becoming homeless, we’ve addressed the issue at its core, and Project Connect does just that.”

Officials said that since the program went into full swing during the first week of May, five inmates signed up to receive assistance.

According to the city, a total of 25 people were contacted by Victory Outreach staff, but the majority of them declined services.

“We are really, really blessed to partner on this program,” Victory Outreach Senior Pastor Dell Castro said. “That is our heart — to reach out to these people and give them hope that there is an opportunity to change.”

Project Connect’s budget is $280,216. The funds are being made available via a pass-through account from the Riverside County Department of Housing & Workforce Solutions, which receives homeless aid grants from the federal and state governments.

Under the agreement, Victory Outreach Church, in coordination with the city’s Office of Homeless Solutions, aids individuals released from RPDC with finding lodgings, as well as potential employment opportunities.

“This is a very important program,” Councilman Chuck Conder said. “That’s the best way we can help them, to give them hope and follow up with the services they need.”

Officials said that roughly 20% of those people surveyed in last year’s countywide Point-In-Time Survey, which attempts to gauge the size of the chronically homeless population annually, indicated that they had been in the criminal justice system recently.

Copyright 2023, City News Service, Inc.

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