West Palm Beach Launching Homeless Assistance & Safety Task Force

Homeless Problem In Downtown West Palm Beach

Foto: CBS 12

West Palm Beach has a homeless problem and officials are launching a program aimed at tackling it.

The six-month pilot program will reduce the size of private security employed by businesses in the downtown area and increase funding for police to patrol the area on foot in order to enforce laws, document homeless trends and direct aid to those in need of mental health assistance.

Raphael Clemente is the Executive Director of the city's Downtown Development Authority.

"This program is not designed to violate anybody’s rights. What is designed to do is to help enforce laws when they need to be enforced."

He tells CBS 12 News that a safety task force will be formed, including business and property owners, along with law enforcement.

But Deputy Police Chief Rick Morris isn't sure whether the number of those living on the streets will dwindle.

"The homeless we can help. It's the criminals without addresses that we have difficulty with."

He says the police department has had more than 2,200 calls related to people fitting into that category.

But Morris says it will be of assistance to law enforcement. That's because it calls for increased foot patrols downtown.

"It's going to be very very effective for us because, again, when you have 161 calls in three weeks, we've got a quicker response because we'll have more police in that area."

The program begins October 1st.

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