LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A yearlong experiment that deploys mental health response teams to respond with nonviolent police calls involving the homeless is expanding in Los Angeles.
Urban Alchemy is a group whose mission is to help those living on the streets. The organization has put together teams that work with the city's through Crisis and Incident Response Community-Led Engagement program, or CIRCLE.
When a 911 call comes in to deal with a nonviolent homeless situation, the CIRCLE team is dispatched.
The teams are made up of a licensed mental health worker, an outreach worker. They call them community ambassadors. After deploying teams in Hollywood and Venice last year, there are more teams going into East Los Angeles, parts of the San Fernando Valley and South Los Angeles.
"When people are ... in crisis, they can meet them in those moments with a sense of calm, with patience, with compassion and without judging," said Dr. Lena Miller, co-founder of Urban Alchemy.
So how do the teams earn the trust of the men and women they approach living on the streets? Many of the CIRCLE members know firsthand what these people are going through.
For example, Ronda Briggs says she was homeless, living on the streets. She says that for 16 years she has been at these same streets she used to call home, working with those who want to be helped off the streets.
"When they see a team member like myself and some of my other team members that are familiar with them, they're more apt to talk to us, to confide in us and to let us know their deeper needs, desires and what they want," Briggs said.