The Ocean City Police Department Remains a Dedicated Member of the Homeless Outreach Team
Ocean City, MD (May 31, 2023): The Ocean City Police Department continues to address our communities concerns regarding the Ocean City homeless population. For the past five years, the Ocean City Police Department has partnered with the Worcester County Homeless Outreach Team (HOT).
In 2018, the Worcester County Health Department, Local Behavioral Health Authority, Department of Social Services, Ocean City Police Department, Diakonia, Ocean City Crisis Coalition, and Atlantic General Hospital joined together to create the Worcester County Homeless Outreach Team (HOT), an effort to connect homeless individuals with local resources. Five years later, that is still the main goal.
A common misconception about homelessness is that it is illegal. Being homeless itself is not illegal. An individual’s actions such as drinking in public, stealing, or trespassing on private property would require the Ocean City Police Department to take enforcement action. We would like to ask our community members to be vigilant and if they see suspicious or criminal activity, to please contact us. This way we can address the possible criminal behavior and get that individual properly identified.
Once an individual is identified as being homeless, the members of HOT can offer resources such as health assessments, mental health resources, and vital records. Homelessness is a complex issue and is not the same for each individual experiencing it. HOT members work to get to know each individual and what their specific needs are. In some cases, individuals do not want to accept assistance. In those cases, the best we can do is keep checking in with that individual so they know that resources are available when they are ready.
So far in 2023, the Ocean City Police Department has identified 17 individuals experiencing homelessness in the Town of Ocean City. This number fluctuates throughout the year. In 2022, we identified 33 individuals. The Ocean City Police Department and HOT members keep a vigilant eye on popular areas that homeless individuals like to frequent, such as the tram stations and Caroline Street Comfort Station. The HOT Team typically visits the Town of Ocean City once a month to meet with our homeless population. In addition, Diakonia has a Rapid Response Team which is available to come out during the week to meet with a specific individual that may need assistance.
If you are interested in lending help to our community members in need, you can reach out to the Worcester County Health Department, local non-profits, and faith-based organizations to see what assistance they may need or if volunteer work is available. If you think someone requires assistance, the Diakonia Rapid Response Team can be reached at 410-213-0923 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. We can work together to help provide the resources needed for our community.