BART installs overnight homeless outreach in Contra Costa

BART installs overnight homeless outreach in Contra Costa
Photo of outreach workers who began operating during the overnight hours at BART stations in Contra Costa County courtesy of BART.

BART’s overnight outreach team, which launched at San Francisco stations in November 2017, became active at Contra Costa County stations this week with the aim of connecting the homeless with services, including shelter, the transit agency reported.

It’s part of a pilot program that partners with Contra Costa County Health Services’ Coordinated Outreach Referral, Engagement (CORE) with aim of helping people while reducing homelessness on trains and stations.

While the CORE program already provides daytime outreach to the homeless near local BART stations, the new pilot program dedicates two workers at the BART system every weeknight from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.

On Sunday, the team focused on the Antioch line, then shifted its focus to the Richmond line Monday. They travel in stations and trains to engage with people who may be experiencing homelessness. In Richmond, they assisted a young man “who said he was tired and ready to have a bed for the night,” according to BART.

“Those are key times because they’re typically when individuals are entering the BART system at the start of the day or on the system without a place to go at the end of the night,” said Armando Sandoval, the BART Police Department’s crisis intervention coordinator and community outreach liaison.

During Monday night’s shift, two contract outreach workers underwent orientation and training and spent time with Sandoval and two CORE supervisors.  They met BART police staff at the El Cerrito del Norte substation.

BPD Sgt. Eric White said the outreach workers will be helpful for a thinly staffed transit police department.

“If a homeless person on a train or in a station decides they want to access services, the CORE team could transport them to a shelter or other facility, which would otherwise take a couple of officers away for hours from already thin staffing,” White said.

The CORE pilot is funded as part of BART’s $1.6 million allocation to quality-of-life issues under the Fiscal Year 2019 budget.