Homeless inmates positive with COVID19 released to Palm Springs motel

5 Live

Palm Springs police officers say homeless inmates are being bused and released into the Coachella Valley city with no warning to law enforcement.

Riverside County Health Department says it’s the implementation of a 17-year-old program aiming to isolate people with respiratory illness who have nowhere else to go.

The law enforcement agency voiced concerns to the Palm Springs City Council, who said it was unaware of the recent implementation of this program, and was furious with the county for offering no warning or assistance.

A Riverside County spokesperson tells KTLA the program tries to place people released from prison to a hospital and/or area closest to their initial place of residence.

“The county is working with the city to address their concerns,” said RivCo spokesperson Brooke Federico, as part of a larger statement.

In 2021, the health department says eight individuals given a motel room were from the Coachella Valley, another four did not list a city of residence, and one is from out of the region.

“The majority of these 13 residents are not recently-released inmates, but released from a hospital” Federico said. “When an individual who is experiencing homelessness has a respiratory illness and is set to be released from the hospital or jail, the releasing agency will contact Public Health to determine if a motel room can be available for them while the individual is still infectious.”

Federico says an individual is monitored during their isolation period, and their meals are provided by the county. After that time, the county says efforts are made to connect them with other county programs to provide emergency shelter, and/or permanent housing and wraparound services.

Business owners in the Downtown Palm Springs area voiced concerns on social media, saying they worry tourism may be impacted by the uptick in transient-related crime.

KTLA asked if this program had a name, to which our inquiry was ignored.

This segment aired on KTLA 5 Live March 2, 2021.

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