Lindsay assigns their first-ever Homeless Outreach Officer

Lindsay city staff see “uptick” in homeless presence and assign new homeless outreach duty to existing public safety officer

LINDSAY – A Lindsay Public Safety officer was recently named as the city’s first Homeless Outreach Officer following an uptick in the area’s unhoused population. 

Bruce Fox has been a public safety officer in Lindsay for approximately two years and was assigned to the new position earlier this month, city manager Joe Tanner said.

“We’ve noticed an uptick in the number of homeless and unhoused folks in the community, especially compared to when I started. There’s just a lot of new faces around,” Tanner said. 

Lieutenant Nicholas Nave, who has worked in Lindsay for over 20 years, estimates that the city’s unhoused population currently stands at about a dozen. Though this is much lower than that of neighboring areas like Porterville, Tulare and Visalia, it’s around twice as much as the half dozen or so that Nave was aware of prior to the pandemic. 

“During COVID, there was a certain amount of assistance that was being offered to get people into hotels and off the street,” Nave said. “Some of them did end up in town through that program and haven’t moved on to anywhere else.” 

According to Nave, the new outreach position will be part of the city’s efforts to link unhoused people with resources like emergency housing and mental health or substance abuse treatment. These resources tend to be in larger cities, which is partly why Lindsay’s unhoused population is so small. But it’s not as simple as relocating people to different parts of the county. 

“Our goal would be to get them off the streets and out of the predicament that they’re in, rather than just moving them somewhere else,” Nave said. “That’s really the approach that we’re looking to take, is doing a better job of making the folks aware of the resources that are available to them and linking them with those resources.” 

Tanner said that Fox’s duties will be split almost in half between homeless outreach and everything else assigned to him as an officer. 

“We will have someone who is the point person who’s aware of all the resources and all the contacts, and then actually gets to know some of our folks here in the community,” Tanner said. 

Nave said that there are laws in place that prohibit camping within Lindsay, but these aren’t enforced due to the city’s lack of a homeless shelter. 

“As it is now, if they’re not on private property or they’re not blocking the public way, we’re not really going after folks for that,” Nave said. “That’s not a problem that we can arrest our way out of. Even if we could arrest them for it, they’re still not going to have a place to sleep. Eventually they’ll be back on the street.” 

Officer Fox’s new position will be highlighted before the city council at a meeting on Tuesday, April 26.

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