Baltimore city police create 'H.O.T.' team to help area's homeless

Posted at 4:47 PM, Nov 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-23 19:05:10-05

Baltimore city police are reaching out to the area's homeless and getting people back on their feet. It's the department's new homeless outreach team. 

In the last two months, three ladies have been building bridges to create a path for the homeless -- getting them off the street and on the road to success one step at a time. 

When life breaks down some of the toughest people, like the anonymous faces making up the city's homeless, it takes an equal amount of toughness to build back relationships.

"We don't make a lot of money panhandling. A lot of people think if you sit out here 'oh you'll make $150 a day.' Maybe some panhandlers do, but my family - we don't make anywhere near that at all," one homeless man said, taking a break from panhandling on Martin Luther King Blvd.

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Verlillian, Joanne, and Krystle -- a tried trio who make up Baltimore city police's H.O.T. team -- make a point to speak to the city's less fortunate every day. 
"Right now failure is not an option for us. So we're going to do what we have to do no matter what time of day, no matter what day it is. We're going to make sure that they can trust us," Sgt. Joanne Wallace said. 
And it's going beyond words and into action. 
The H.O.T. or homeless outreach team helps people get IDs, birth certificates, and necessary paperwork they need to go from homeless to hopeful. 
It all started with a push to increase community policing. 
"Everybody has a chance. It's out there. A lot of people don't know these programs are out there and that's why a lot of them are still where they are," Verlillian Githara, an officer with the police department, said. 
It's a stagnant place that presents its own set of challenges like a lack of services and shelters. 
"This is a position that you have to want to do because it's not easy and it's not easy meeting people at different places," Sgt. Wallace said. 
"We don't have enough help. We don't have enough systems in the city to get everybody the help that they need," Githara said. 
But the ladies are still working to change that. 
"It's very emotional just seeing these individuals outside and just don't have anywhere to go and don't have any food," Krystle Fisher, an officer with the police department, said. 
In two months, the ladies have created relationships with different partners to get those that need help a boost. 
"We try to build it up, first with us, and then as we bring in our partners, let them know that this is where we are and this is where we need to meet them," Wallace said. 
A breakthrough that clears up the city's homeless and puts them in places to succeed. 
"They want us to get out of here. They don't want it to be just like running around, they want to get it done," the homeless man said. 
The ladies say they've received a lot of great feedback, even getting funding from the police department to provide food and other needs for the homeless.

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