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Police and Fire Departments Launch 'IMPACT' Teams To Assist Homeless

Impact-Team.jpg
Joey Palacios
/
Texas Public Radio
Police Chief William McManus and Fire Chief Charles Hood announce a new method ot assist the homeless throughout the city

The San Antonio Police and Fire departments are launching a new street team this week to offer services to the homeless around the city.  The 5- to 6-person team will approach homeless individuals one by one.

It’s called IMPACT, an acronym that stands for Integrated, Mobile, Partners Action Care Team.  Police Chief William McManus says it’s a new approach to interact with the homeless, including those who are mentally ill or chemically dependent.

“In the past, law enforcement has worked alone in this regard and our solution was to arrest the problem away. That, obviously, does not and did not work; it will never work,” McManus said.

The Team consists of five members with at least one police officer, a paramedic from the fire department’s mobile integrated health unit, a representative from Haven for Hope, and a crisis management professional.

Fire Chief Charles Hood says the team will try to get homeless people into shelters or lead them to substance abuse or mental health services.

“Once we’ve evaluated that they’re medically in a condition so they can go someplace else, we’re going to navigate them through whether that’s going to Haven or to Restoration or to some other type of resource to help them out.”

Hood says that includes transporting someone immediately. The fire and police departments hope this will also reduce the number of 9-1-1 calls regarding the homeless. There is currently one IMPACT team on the streets working about 8 hours per day canvassing certain areas. The goal of the departments is to have more teams on the streets when staffing allows.