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City News - Current

Posted on: January 3, 2019

Schweitzer Park, other homeless encampments cleared

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ANAHEIM, Calif. (Jan. 3, 2019) — A homeless encampment in and around west Anaheim’s Schweitzer Park that at its peak had about 25 people and tents has been cleared, and the park restored to its intended use. Smaller encampments near Gene Autry Way and Katella Avenue were also cleared Thursday.

The clearing of the encampments was the result of extensive outreach by the city and our nonprofit partners, who have been working for days with those living in the park and on the streets to offer them services and a bed at Anaheim’s newly opened interim emergency homeless shelter.

"In just a short amount of time, we have been able to change the lives of those in need and restore our parks and neighborhoods," Mayor Harry Sidhu said. "This shows what can be achieved when we come together to better the lives of everyone in Anaheim. This effort serves as a model for all cities looking to address the complex challenge of homelessness."

On Thursday, a team of social workers from the city’s nonprofit partners, along with Anaheim Police, Anaheim Public Works, Code Enforcement, Community Services, Anaheim Fire & Rescue and others, were out helping people transition out of Schweitzer Park, as well as from encampments in an underpass under Gene Autry Way along Santa Cruz Street and a bus stop across from the Anaheim Convention Center.

Several people accepted the offer of a bed at the interim emergency homeless shelter Thursday, and our team will continue to work with the others to help get them on a pathway out of homelessness.

Thursday’s action follows weeks of outreach by Anaheim and its partners to help people out of homelessness while also addressing unsustainable encampments in our parks and public spaces.

Since the 200-bed interim emergency homeless shelter opened on Dec. 20, we have been able to clear encampments at Maxwell Park, La Palma Park and at the corner of La Palma Avenue and Magnolia Street.

As of Thursday, the shelter is now home to about 160 people who previously were living outdoors amid colder weather and other risks.

"This could not have come at a more critical time," Sidhu said. "The cold nights we have been experiencing reminds us that no one should have to sleep on the streets when there is a safe, warm and compassionate alternative available."

The shelter, at 2040 S. State College Blvd., is a safe, warm and inviting alternative for those living on the streets, in parks and other public spaces in Anaheim.

Operated by Orange-based nonprofit partner Illumination Foundation, the shelter is a first step out of homelessness with case management, counseling, job assistance and other ongoing services.

Features include:

  • Family living space with room for up to four families before they move to other accommodations
  • Men’s living space
  • Women’s living space
  • All single beds with individual nightstands
  • Transportation service
  • Personal storage space
  • Dining area, kitchen
  • Pets, outdoor dog run
  • Covered outdoor space
  • Lounge area with TV
  • Wireless internet
  • Inspirational murals

The shelter is expected to operate for about 90 days, closing once two temporary shelters in the works open in late January and February.

Anaheim is building a total of 325 temporary shelter beds for those living in homelessness in Anaheim at two temporary shelter sites at 3035 E. La Mesa St. and 1455 S. Salvation Place.

Down the road, the city also has plans to partner with The Salvation Army Orange County for a 400-600 bed homeless care center that will be part of the city’s long-term solution to addressing homelessness.

All of Anaheim’s shelter sites will include extensive operational and security oversight to ensure they are good neighbors.

Anaheim Police will oversee security planning and conduct regular patrols of the sites, supplemented by onsite security and rules barring loitering, walk-ups and drop-offs.

You can learn more about the shelters at Anaheim.net/shelterplan.

To learn more about all we are doing to address homelessness, visit Anaheim.net/homeless.