Police in cities receive hundreds of calls a day about people experiencing homelessness. Urban Alchemy’s emergency response programs address the unique needs of this population while freeing up police resources for detective work and violent crime response.
Urban Alchemy has worked with the Cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco to reimagine how we respond to homelessness, mental health and addiction. Our programs rely on the expertise of mental health providers and Urban Alchemy Practitioners, helping divert non-emergency calls to a team uniquely equipped to handle such situations.
Urban Alchemy practitioners have lived experiences that allow them to empathize with the trauma many unhoused individuals endure, using trauma-informed communication and de-escalation practices to interrupt negative behavior in public spaces. We re-envision public safety as proactive rather than reactive, and the key to our approach is engagement. We actively form bonds with residents, whether they live in houses or on the streets. We listen to their stories, speak to them with kindness, lead by example, and recognize their value as human beings.
So far, we’ve engaged in over 6,000 de-escalations that kept the community safe without police involvement.
Los Angeles: CIRCLE
A nation-leading pilot program, Crisis and Incident Response through Community-Led Engagement (CIRCLE) redirects non-violent mental health-related emergency calls in Los Angeles to Urban Alchemy practitioners—instead of armed police officers.
- Practitioners are trained in conflict de-escalation and use a service-led approach to resolve these incidents safely without the presence of law enforcement.
- Each response team also includes a licensed mental health worker.
San Francisco: CART
In San Francisco, police respond to an average of 179 calls related to homelessness per day. As an alternative to policing, Urban Alchemy kicked off the Compassionate Alternative Response Team (CART) in San Francisco in early 2023. The program is designed around care—not criminalization—for the unhoused residents of the city.
“Each call handled by CIRCLE is a call LAPD doesn’t need to answer, freeing officers up for other calls.” – ABC 7
“CIRCLE is about strengthening the human bonds that are essential to public safety, and using a nonviolent response to homelessness so that we can help, not punish, our most vulnerable Angelenos,” Garcetti said. — NBC 4