By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Unarmed outreach teams and trained responders will now be sent out to answer 911 calls related to homelessness in a pilot program called CIRCLE – Crisis and Incident Response through Community-Led Engagement.

The LAPD gets 140,000 homeless-related calls a year, according to Mayor Eric Garcetti. Under the CIRCLE program, law enforcement officers will no longer be dispatched to 911 calls reporting non-violent homeless people.

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“At the heart of our CIRCLE pilot is a truth – we know that sending somebody with a badge can sometimes be helpful, but it’s not the solution to homelessness,” Garcetti said.

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Each CIRCLE team is made up of one outreach worker, a mental health or licensed behavioral health clinician, and a community ambassador, with a goal of creating a rapport with the homeless community, conduct light sanitation work, de-escalate situations as they arise, and refer people to local service providers. These teams were already put to work in Venice and Hollywood over the summer, but starting in December, will be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to respond throughout the city of Los Angeles.

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The $1 billion program was included in Garcetti’s “justice budget” for the 2021-22 fiscal year and represents the city’s largest-ever investment in confronting the homelessness crisis to date, according to city officials.