Homeless people in San Diego hate the city's shelters so much that city officials have resorted to bribing them by offering to clear outstanding infractions if they agree to stay in one of the city's large, tented bridge shelters for 30 days, according to the San Diego Union Tribune.
According to San Diego police Captain Scott Wahl, the program would allow those who face ticketing or arrest to stabilize their lives and connect with vital social services, while police officers will have fewer issues to deal with.
"I feel like we’ve started this division because we wanted to be a positive impact on ending homelessness," said Wahl, referring to the department's neighborhood policing division which was created in 2018, and includes homeless out reach teams and officers tasked with enforcing quality-of-life laws.
"We’re all trying to do our part in ending homelessness, and we want to do it in a way that’s compassionate, but also has accountability," added Wahl.
The incentive is a revision to a similar effort that began in July. Police officers last summer began offering shelter beds in lieu of citations to homeless people who had been contacted for encroachment, illegal lodging, littering or other minor quality-of-life infractions.
Wahl said about 300 people took the offer, but there was a problem.
“We noticed that 67 percent of people blew out the back door on the very first day,” he said about people who took the offer to avoid citations but had no intention of staying sheltered. “They’re circumventing the criminal justice system intentionally.”
The revised approach still offers shelter beds in lieu of citations, but the tickets aren’t torn up quite so soon. If somebody leaves the shelter before 30 days, the citation will be enforced. -San Diego Union Tribune
"They can still go outside," said Wahl, adding "It’s not jail. They’re still free to come and go, but they have to be in at night."
And while the first program that didn't require a 30 day stay had a 67% rate of success, so far 46% of those who accepted the shelter deal are staying.