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Social workers on the subway: LA Metro trying new approach to dealing with homelessness




Julian Turner (right), part of Metro's homeless outreach team, chats with two young men outside the Pershing Square stop.
Julian Turner (right), part of Metro's homeless outreach team, chats with two young men outside the Pershing Square stop.
Rina Palta, KPCC

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As the homelessness crisis worsens in Los Angeles, the public transit system increasingly becomes a space where people without homes take shelter, which comes with repercussions for its safety, usability and sanitation.

L.A. Metro has allocated about $207 million for law enforcement this year, which is done by a mix of L.A. and Long Beach police departments, the Sheriff’s Department and private security. But as reported by the L.A. Times, under a new $1.2 million contract, Metro has been trying a new approach: social workers riding the Metro Red Line five days a week in an attempt to provide outreach and help to people who are homeless. This one year program, launched in May of last year, is now coming to a close, though there are plans to expand it out.

How well has this new program worked? How do social workers approach people who are homeless on the train? What is your experience with homelessness on L.A. Metro and what do you think can be done?

Guests:

Laura Nelson, transportation reporter for the Los Angeles Times; her recent article is “As waves of homeless descend onto trains, L.A. tries a new strategy: social workers on the subway”; she tweets @laura_nelson

Tescia Uribe, chief program officer at the nonprofit People Assisting The Homeless (PATH) that has partnered with Metro on its homeless program

Alex Wiggins, chief system security and law enforcement officer who oversees Metro’s homeless outreach social services program

Adam Murray, executive director of Inner City Law Center, an organization that provides legal services on Skid Row