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What is Anaheim’s shelter plan?

Anaheim is required to add 325 homeless shelter beds for emergency and transitional housing with supportive services as part of a settlement of a federal lawsuit. The beds will be spread between two sites in industrial areas of Anaheim, away from parks, schools and neighborhoods.

The planned shelters will be a 200-bed temporary emergency shelter on Lewis Street south of Ball Road owned and operated by The Salvation Army Orange County, and a 125-bed facility on La Palma Avenue east of Kraemer Boulevard operated by Orange-based Illumination Foundation.

Both shelters are expected to open by early 2019.

Long term, The Salvation Army is set to build a 400- to 600-bed homeless care center known as Center of Hope, which will be a transitional housing and service center to help those living in homelessness get into permanent housing.

Why do we need this?

To help get people out of homelessness in Anaheim and to continue addressing impacts on our parks, neighborhoods and streets.

This plan is part of a Nov. 2 settlement agreement that resolved a lawsuit involving Anaheim over the February clearing of the Santa Ana River Trail. The lawsuit has carried the risk of a court order limiting Anaheim’s ability to address public camping, property storage and other violations. That would only compound a situation we are trying to address, and one we know has had a big impact on our residents, businesses and public spaces.

Residents have the right to safe and secure enjoyment of their parks, streets and neighborhoods. Where appropriate, we need the ability to address those issues through enforcement and respond to the many concerns brought to our attention by the community.

There are also many people living in homelessness in Anaheim who need our help, and we want to do the right thing. Since January 2014, we have helped 1,421 people off our streets and into permanent housing. Enforcement helps deal with daily issues, but it can never be a long-term answer to homelessness. That is where our weekly outreach comes into play, and these facilities would support that.

Where would these shelters go?

The Salvation Army temporary facility, and ultimately the longer-term Center of Hope, is proposed for an industrial area just south of Ball Road near the railroad tracks.

The second facility would be on La Palma Avenue in the Anaheim Canyon industrial area, near Kaiser OC-Anaheim Medical Center and Anaheim Canyon Metrolink Station.

Both sites are surrounded by industrial businesses with significant separation from neighborhoods. There are no schools or parks immediately nearby, making the locations the best possible for this type of facility.

What is Center of Hope?

Center of Hope is the Salvation Army’s name for a proposed homeless care center in Anaheim. The proposal was announced Sept. 7, 2018, as part of a settlement agreement in a federal lawsuit involving Anaheim. The proposal is set to undergo City Council and Planning Commission consideration and community outreach in a series of informational forums. It is set to open in late 2020.

In the interim, The Salvation Army is set to operate an emergency shelter with 200 beds in temporary trailers on the future Center of Hope site.

What is the La Palma shelter?

The shelter at 3431 E. La Palma Ave. will be a temporary homeless shelter owned by the city of Anaheim and operated by Orange-based Illumination Foundation. The city is expected to purchase a 16,900-square-foot industrial building from an Anaheim investor and community supporter and expedite construction to transform it into a shelter. The shelter would operate for two to three years until the Center of Hope is completed and other resources come online in north Orange County.

How would these shelters work?

Both facilities would provide immediate shelter for someone living on the streets. But the long-term goal is to get people out of homelessness for good. The shelters would offer what’s known as transitional housing, where people live in a stable setting for about six months with healthcare and other services as well as help finding a job and, ultimately, permanent housing.

What about those that have addiction or mental health issues?

Studies show that the first step to helping anyone get back on their feet is to get them housed. Once they have a roof over their heads, we can focus on deeper issues that cause them to become homeless in the first place.

Illumination Foundation and The Salvation Army both offer comprehensive programs that connect people with services to help with addiction, mental health or any other underlying factors with the ultimate goal of getting them back on their feet and keeping them off the street.

Anaheim already has Bridges at Kraemer Place shelter. Why do we need 325 more beds?

Bridges has been an incredible success story. But it only holds around 200 people. At any given time, there may not be space available at Bridges. We need additional space as our outreach workers and police officers work to get people off our streets. The beds are also part of our agreement to settle the federal lawsuit, and the number of beds are based on the homeless population in Anaheim.

If this is to settle a lawsuit, why didn’t you just fight the lawsuit?

We fight lawsuits when necessary. In this case, we could have spent millions of dollars on legal fees and years in court. In the meantime, we could see our ability to address undue impacts on our community curtailed by a court order as we await an outcome. Looking at additional facilities like this is in the best interest of our city and residents.

Many people on the street don’t want help, so why add beds?

It’s true, there are some who regularly turn down our offers of help. But, looking at all those we have helped, we know many people out there do want assistance, and sometimes it takes a few times to get through. Plus, whether someone takes up our offer of shelter or not, we need to have a viable option for them before we can turn to enforcement in the cases where it may be warranted.

Will these just become gathering places for transients looking for a meal and shower?

No. We heard the same concerns before opening Bridges at Kraemer Place, and those concerns have not been realized. Just as with Kraemer, Center of Hope and the La Palma site would only operate with detailed operational plans and security sign-off by by Anaheim Police to ensure neighboring businesses and streets are not impacted.

Both sites will see security planning including:

  • Security plan approval by Anaheim Police
  • Regular Anaheim Police patrols
  • Onsite security
  • No loitering
  • Thorough admittance policies
  • Contingency plans for those who may walk up and be turned away
  • Cooperation and outreach with local businesses
  • Security design including potential cameras, deterrent landscaping and lighting

How would this be paid for?

Salvation Army’s extensive fundraising would cover development and operational costs for Center of Hope. For the temporary shelter, the city will look at one-time funding, tapping resources available to us to address homelessness.

For the purchase and operation of the La Palma shelter, the city will draw on $7 million in state, county and city funding dedicated specifically to addressing homelessness.

No current spending on public safety and community services will be impacted.

Why aren’t other cities doing more to address homelessness?

Others are, including Santa Ana, Orange, Buena Park and Costa Mesa. These cities alone have pledged to add more than 500 beds in the coming year or so.

All Orange County cities face the same challenge by federal Judge David Carter to address homelessness in their communities and will have to deal with the issue.

Cities that have not yet committed to adding beds, including in South County, are anticipated to come under federal court expectations to add shelter beds as part of a countywide response to homelessness.

The real problem is the lack of affordable housing, won’t these people just end up back on the street?

It’s true, high housing costs do contribute to homelessness in Orange County and across California. It is an issue that everyone from state leaders to local officials are grappling with.

In Anaheim, we do all we can to add affordable housing and other options for those who can’t afford high rents.

We have 12 affordable housing developments already and are working to bring more online. Our Housing Authority also offers several other housing assistance programs.

We need more and are always looking at ways to add additional affordable housing.