Riverside program helps homeless people facing prosecution

February 16, 2022 GMT

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) — A new program to help homeless residents facing criminal prosecution for low-level crimes will launch in Riverside County in the coming weeks, officials said Tuesday.

The program will promote community-based treatment to assist homeless defendants suffering from mental illness, substance abuse disorders and other problems, according to a statement from the District Attorney’s Office.

The Riverside County Partnership for the Homeless Outreach Mediation and Education is for those facing sentencing for non-violent crimes and aims to reduce homelessness and crime through supervision, support and treatment, the statement said.

“The two main factors driving the increase in homelessness are substance abuse or addiction and mental illness, and can often be a combination of both,” DA Mike Hestrin said. “This new collaborative court will allow us to use innovative approaches to getting people into the drug treatment and rehabilitation programs they need.”

Hestrin’s office will work with the Sheriff’s Department, the Office of the Public Defender, the Riverside University Health System and others.