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By Tammye McDuff
The County of Orange has approved a ten-year plan to end homelessness that was developed by the Commission to End Homelessness (CEH). The Plan outlines the mission, vision, core values key goals and strategies to implement necessary action and successfully reduce the homeless issue in Orange County.
The single most important action currently needed is to develop a year round permanent emergency shelter.
Recently the cities of Fullerton and Anaheim have collaborated on several initiatives to support the Orange County Plan to end homelessness. Anaheim has now identified a site for consideration as a regional shelter. The site is located at 1000 N. Kramer Place in Anaheim, within the Anaheim Canyon Business Center site [near East La Palma Avenue, North of Riverside [SR-91] Freeway between Orange [SR-57] Freeway and the Costa Mesa [SR-55] Freeway].
The location is intended to serve the region and provide services to the surrounding cities, including La Palma.
In partnership with Mercy House, the County currently operates the Orange County Cold Weather Armory Emergency Shelter Program from November to April each year.
However with the number of homeless individuals growing, the program cannot meet the needs of this year round population. A permanent site would improve cost effectiveness, living environment and program outcomes.
La Palma City Manager, Ellen Volmert addressed Council, “the recommended action is to adopt this resolution, adding the support of our City. It would also be expected that once the facility is operational, the city would be involved in coordination of local services for the center.”
While the cities of Anaheim and Fullerton have agreed to contribute $500,000 each toward the County’s $4.2 million purchase of the proposed site, there has been no discussion of financial contributions being made by the other surrounding cities.
Staff report stated the City of La Palma General Plan Housing Element includes a section dealing with emergency transitional and supportive housing. As required by state law, it establishes a zone within the City where emergency shelter is a use permitted by right. Supporting a permanent location outside of La Palma, but close enough to provide services for the community would reduce the need or demand for placing a shelter within the city limits.
Volmert noted that the City is not required to support this or any other specific site. However it is to the benefit of La Palma to have a permanent site and resources to offer when the issue associated with homeless individuals or specific needed services arise.
Council Member Steve Hwangbo stated, “Even though it does not directly impact the City, I think that this is an important motion and we should be supportive of it.” Hwangbo made the motion to approve with Council Member Steve Shanahans’ second. The motion was carried with five approval votes.
A copy of the plan can be found at occommunityservices.org.
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