The L.A. Metro system has been having issues with homeless people using trains as shelter, and it is trying a new approach to deal with the issue. The program is currently in its pilot phase and it consists of an outreach group that has been riding the Metro Red Line five days a week talking with every homeless person they see. The program has been going on since May, with the outreach group consisting of formerly homeless individuals, social workers, mental health specialists, and a nurse. Since October, the group has made contact with about 1,400 homeless people. Karen Florence of PATH stated,
The population on the trains is very mobile. Typically with a lot of outreach work, you’re going to an encampment, you’re getting to know people over a period of time. We don’t really have that opportunity here.
The group meets each morning at Union Station and then splits into groups of two to start riding the trains. The goal is to try and help L.A. County’s effort to end homelessness and to improve quality of life for Metro riders. L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who has gone on one of the group outings, states that the outreach group is due for expansion with dollars from Measure H, because of its success. Eventually, Metro is hoping to add two to three more teams to serve other Metro lines. The outreach group is a good starting point for connecting with homeless people to try and get them some help, and hopefully the program expands.