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Palm Springs considers 3-year, $1.2M contract with company to clean up homeless camps

The City of Palm Springs is considering a 3-year, $1.2M with an environmental construction company, OFRS, Inc., to help clean up homeless encampments.

Palm Springs Police say homelessness is a growing problem in the city. With their continued efforts to combat homelessness through Operation Relentless Sun, police say they've identified 418 homeless individuals from February 1, 2023 to April 1, 2023.

“Whether it's an increase or whether those numbers have always been here. What's most challenging is we're seeing a lot of people from all over the place. Every day, we're identifying new people," said Lieutenant William Hutchinson.

Hutchinson, who oversees the Operation Relentless Sun team, tells News Channel 3 that those numbers are only increasing.

The 2023 Riverside County Homeless Point In Time Count revealed Palm Springs has the highest number of unsheltered individuals throughout the Coachella Valley.

“We are seeing as those increases in the encampments. We are, you know, significant increases in those area and a lot of the blight," he said.

In order to help with the large encampments that pop up in various parts of the city, Hutchinson believes bringing in a team who specializes in cleaning them up could make a big difference.

“What we're finding is encampments are showing up in flood control zones. We're finding them, you know, showing up on private property all over the place," Hutchinson explained. "So a company that has got the experience and in the biohazardous issues that some of the threats that come with homeless encampments... and they also do it with care and compassion.”

The environmental construction company, OFRS, Inc., contracts with several cities and organizations in the state. Hutchinson emphasized this isn’t about kicking homeless individuals out of their encampments.

"So we're not just going around and cleaning them up. See, they have a very compassionate approach the way that they work," he said. "People can certainly sleep in public places, but you can't build an entire encampment and an entire property on on public lands.”

When camps are cleared, their belongings are taken to storage units at the Palm Springs Police Department.

“They have to be able to take property and book that, not just that, I'm not gonna just be throwing away people's stuff.... they have to work with us," Hutchinson explained. "These are all labeled by month because we allow them 90 days to collect their property.”

Palm Springs Police Department

Hutchinson tells us OFRS, Inc. also takes the next steps by offering help to those who need it.

“They actually work with the homeless and try to get them adjusted to give them jobs and get them back in the workforce," he said. "That was really critical in the decision making process for us is their philosophy in working through cleaning up homeless encampments.”

City Council is expected to vote on the $1.2 million proposal on Thursday, May 25th during their meeting.

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Samantha Lomibao

Samantha joined KESQ News Channel 3 in May 2021. Learn more about Samantha here here.


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