Homeless Neighborhood Court

HNHC Dan Walker

Homeless Neighborhood Court graduate Dan Walker preparing meals for the homeless at Fourth and Hope, where he is currently employed.

“Homelessness is a serious issue that needs to be addressed in a constructive fashion, and we are committed to being part of the solution. The endless cycle of arrests and jail sentences has clearly failed. It is time for a new approach that focuses on the causes of homelessness and promotes self-sufficiency.” – District Attorney Jeff Reisig

The Homeless Neighborhood Court (H-NHC) diverts criminal charges for individuals identified by law enforcement agencies, the Health and Human Services Agency, or the District Attorney’s Office as transient.

Participants engage with the program’s Social Worker-Practitioner who provides support to ensure the successful fulfillment of case plan objectives. The case plan addresses four dimensions: housing, self-sufficiency, behavioral health, and physical health. Oftentimes program clients include individuals afflicted with co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders, which require a high level of attention and assistance to successfully reintegrate into society.

H-NHC uses a restorative justice conference process similar to the standard Neighborhood Court program, where the Social Worker participates to assist the client throughout the process. 81% of program clients who participated in a restorative justice conference through H-NHC have graduated from the program.

The Chronicles of Justice Episode 3: NHC Homeless Restorative Justice Program

H-NHC Participant Perspectives

Neighborhood Court’s Local Evaluation Plan (LEP) team for the Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) interviewed several of H-NHC’s participants to gather feedback on their experience with the program:

• “They (H-NHC) stayed with me because they saw something in me that I did not—gave me chance.”
• “They had hope and faith in me,” “made me believe in myself,” “they opened the door and let me walk in…,” “if I did not have this program I would not be doing well”…[H-NHC]…”encouraged me.”
• “H-NHC gave me a place to call, they come knocking on your door, and took a chance with me, but I was ready to change.”
• “They [Deanna and Marshall] had hope and faith in me…made me believe in myself.”
• “They made all the paperwork easy—I was pretty anti-establishment.”
• “Not to give up. If things don’t work out, keep trying, move to something else, it taught me persistence pays off.”
• “To make adult decisions, allowing yourself to feel—no self-blame,” “learning who I am,” “showed me the road but did not decide the direction...that mistakes are okay,” “learned that it is okay to ask for help because I can’t do everything myself.”
• “We need more programs like this,” “[I] wish there was more transitional housing,” “maybe [I could] be a peer mentor to others to set an example.”

H-NHC in the news:

DA Seeks Volunteers for Neighborhood Court, Homeless Offender Programs
Yolo County DA Helps Homeless Offenders with Court
Program Helps Chef Find Fresh Start Off Streets in Yolo County