As homeless struggle, police reach out
FARMINGTON — Farmington Police officers are breaking down traditional barriers between law enforcement and the homeless.
During the first week of January, officers with the department’s District Coordinator Unit surveyed the area’s homeless and street inebriate population. They found that more cooperation and coordination between law enforcement and homeless-assistance charities and agencies in the community is necessary to better help the area’s most chronically homeless and destitute.
For some homeless people, the solution could be as simple as a more permanent roof overhead.
Jarvis Yazzie, 55, sat inside San Juan Catholic Charities’ Good Shepherd Center on Wednesday enjoying warmth and company before heading back out into the cold. It was 10 a.m. and he was drunk.
“We try to survive,” Yazzie said. “For me, I go through a lot of depression. This place, Catholic Charities, gives me hope.”
Many shelters are closed to members of Farmington’s homeless such as Yazzie. Although People Assisting the Homeless, P.A.T.H., housed 65 clients in December, according to the police survey, it requires sobriety for residency.
For Yazzie and other homeless people like him, simply going sober may not be an option in the immediate future.
Police officers were able to get 50 people to take the surveys and estimate that the homeless population ranges from 90 to 100 people on any given winter day. During warmer months, that number likely doubles.