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A new plan to address homelessness is headed to the North Side

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SAN ANTONIO - A new outreach program will soon help address growing concerns about the homeless population on the city's North Side.

Councilman Clayton Perry says the idea is the result of a months long study conducted by a special task force.

The program will employ a highly-trained professional to make contact with homeless men and women to get them the help they need.

A a short drive down Austin Highway near Rainbow and it won't take long to spot homeless men and women.

"They're are very prominent," said resident Maribel Martinez.

Some of them engage in aggressive panhandling at stop signs and intersections.

Others loiter outside of businesses.

"Mostly I just see them hanging around the restaurants sleeping around the patios and stuff like that," Martinez said.

It's a problem District 10 Councilman Clayton Perry has been working to address.

"We've got people that really need some help," Perry said.

Last year Councilman Perry launched a task force to determine the best approach.

This year he's presented a recommendation to City Council to dedicate money for an outreach program.

"So it's an active thing going out and looking and searching the back woods that we have," Perry said. "And we have a lot up in that area, and we've had tons of encampments that have actually been taken down."

Perry says a special-trained individual will beat the streets much like plain clothes officers with SAPD's H.O.P.E. Program.

Instead of arresting the homeless, officers use a more sensetive approach to identify the needs of the homeless.

The veteran officers work with non-profit organizations like Haven for Hope to provide much needed services, like helping the homeless obtain a photo ID.

"They don't really want to be helped that's the problem," Martinez said. "People have tried to help them before and they've tried to give them these things."

Maribel Martinez says while the average citizen might have a hard time encouraging the homeless to seek help a licensed professional would have greater success.

"I wouldn't say that all of them have mental illnesses but I think it's a good idea that they're trained in that kind of position to be able to approach them better."

Councilman Perry says if the outreach program is successful a recommendation will be made to have it expand to other areas of the city.

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