LOS ANGELES, March 13 LAWFUEL – Legal News, Law Jobs — SOS (Streets or Services), a
pioneering collaboration between law enforcement, local government and
social service agencies to provide an alternative to jail for homeless
individuals cited for quality of life offenses, is beginning to register
significant success in the lives of homeless individuals.
Coordinated by PATH (People Assisting the Homeless), SOS offers shelter and services to homeless arrestees who have committed nonviolent
misdemeanor crimes. Initiated in 2003 as a pilot project in downtown Los
Angeles, the program has placed more than 800 homeless into housing with
supportive services rather than being sentenced to jail time. Connecting
arrestees with social service programs in lieu of criminal prosecution, SOS provides not only a compassionate response for homeless participants but ends the cycle of citation, arrest, jail time and release to the streets where the cycle repeats itself.
PATH, the lead agency, coordinates the program in partnership with the City Attorney, Los Angeles Police Department as well as with other service providers including the Midnight Mission, The Clare Foundation, Tarzana Treatment Centers, EIMAGO, and Volunteers of America.
“The goal of SOS is to provide services that address the underlying
causes that led to the misdemeanor as well as to reduce the number of
individuals revolving through the criminal justice system.” said Joel
Roberts, chief executive officer of PATH, a non-profit community
organization founded in 1984 to empower homeless people with the tools for self-sufficiency.
Between November 2003 and December 2006, the SOS program placed
approximately 840 homeless into shelter with supportive services. After
placement, more than 60% remained housed for 10 days or more.
“SOS is a model partnership between law enforcement and social service providers,” said Roberts. “Because of the success we’ve experienced, we are optimistic SOS will prove to be a very significant tool in the battle to
Founded in 1984, PATH is a non-profit community organization committed
to breaking the cycle of homelessness by providing a full range of housing and supportive services that equip individuals with the tools to empower their lives. Each year, PATH serves more than 4,500 homeless men, women, and children from throughout Los Angeles County. PATH is a member of PATH Partners, a family of agencies helping people in need.