By Andrea Nakano

MARTINEZ (KPIX) — Homelessness is a problem throughout the Bay Area but the city of Martinez is making solid strides to find solutions.

Martinez has received awards for its work to help the homeless and its efforts go beyond making arrests or moving encampments. The goal is to get people off the streets for good.

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On Thursday night, Martinez held a community meeting to offer concrete solutions to the problem.

Officer Rodney Brisner with the Martinez police department said, “It’s extremely important to build trust.”

Officer Brisner estimates there are roughly 50 men and woman living on the streets in Martinez. Eighty-eight percent are 65 or older.

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Brisner goes out daily, checking encampments and hoping he’s developed enough of a relationship for those living on the streets to accept his help.

“You see somebody and say ‘hey is this the day your life is going to change?’ and one day they say ‘yes’ and that’s when we take advantage of that situation,” Brisner said.

The effort to build relationships with the homeless seems to be paying off. According to studies done by Contra Costa County, the homeless population in Martinez is more willing to accept help.

Michael Fischer, with Coordinated Outreach Referral and Engagement, said, “The homeless living here are being engaged and they’re receptive to the services that are being provided.”

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The hope is that the community will continue to lend support — not by helping the homeless individually but by donating to the agencies making a difference.