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Socialize

Bellflower Residents Seem Content About New Houseless Shelter

BY TAMMYE MCDUFF

When the houseless shelter was first proposed in Bellflower, angry residents vehemently fought the establishment, even though a City survey showed 75% wanted the City to tackle the problem.

It is apparent residents have accepted the shelter given the response for a request to give the shelter a name.

Bellflower residents were given the opportunity to vote on a name for the newly constructed houseless shelter that has been such a controversial issue.

Three suggestions were offered and “New Hope” received the most votes, it is now the official name of the new temporary services shelter. This facility is set to open this month and includes a welcoming in-take area, common room with kitchen, laundry area, and ADA compliant bathrooms and showers. There are designated sleep areas for couples, women and men, a large personal be-longings storage area, as well as an area for pets. “It’ll be a tremendous source of pride for our City, to take care of our own, as well as a huge symbol of hope and rebirth for so many in our community,” states Mayor Juan Garza. 

New Hope Temporary Services Shelter is located at 8833 Cedar Street in the city of Bellflower, and is aimed to temporarily serve up to 50 houseless individuals at one time.

Many questions were raised concerning the new shelter. Bellflower residents will not be paying more taxes or see a tax increase to fund the shelter, the City has contracted with Mercy House to mange New Hope.

New Hope grew from two reasons. First, the City’s residents made it clear they want the City Council to address the growing houseless crisis in Bellflower. A Citywide survey conducted in October 2018 showed that 74% of our residents said it was the most severe problem in Bellflower. It was a clear mandate from the community to fix this crisis.  

Second, the City settled a houseless-related federal lawsuit filed against the city by a houseless advocate group and, in the settlement, (The Catholic Worker of Orange County v. City of Bellflower) Federal District Court Judge David O. Carter ordered the City to provide temporary services for up to 50 persons.  Judge Carter ordered the City to complete a plan for the creation of a TSS by December 31, 2019. In order to meet the Court Order, the City had to move forward. 

A decision made by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Martin v. City of Boise, generally prevents cities, including Bellflower, from enforcing so called “anti-nuisance” regulations against houseless people for camping, loitering or sleeping outdoors, unless the city provides temporary emergency shelter for the houseless population. 

Over the past few years, the City of Bellflower has tried many methods with multiple organizations to solve this problem in our community. They have contracted with two non-profit entities, CityNet and Kingdom Causes, to identify and assist the houseless in finding shelter and help with their challenges and struggles. Though these efforts have been very effective in determining who is from Bellflower and who is not, determining the root causes of why people are houseless is another issue. The city cannot legally enforce anti-camping, loitering or prohibitions of sleeping outside. This is one of the main reasons why the community continues to observe houseless on the sidewalks, parks, streets, around businesses and near homes.

Additional concerns from the community was the unfounded assertion that New Hope will might attract houseless from neighboring cities. The only houseless people that will be allowed to be housed and supported in New Hope are those who can show proof they are from Bellflower, or have a prior connection to Bellflower. Everyone else who is houseless and not from Bellflower will not be provided help or access.

For more info about New Hope visit www.bellflower.org.

 

 

 

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