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Posted on: August 30, 2017

City Council expresses urgency in working with county to address homeless crisis

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ANAHEIM, Calif. (Aug. 30, 2017) — Anaheim’s City Council on Tuesday expressed urgency to continue supporting the county of Orange as it works to end homelessness on the Santa Ana River Trail while deferring action on a request by a homeless advocate to place portable toilets on city land near the riverbed.

“People need to know there’s a plan and a goal in sight,” Mayor Tom Tait said. “The good news is there is an unprecedented level of coordination taking place to address homelessness in and around Anaheim. We need to continue to support the county of Orange as they move forward.”


Orange County’s Effort

In June, the county contracted with Long Beach-based nonprofit City Net to help people break the cycle of homelessness on the riverbed by providing access to services and, ultimately, permanent housing.

The move builds on Anaheim’s work with City Net to addresses homelessness in our city. Since early 2014, City Net has helped transition nearly 800 people off the streets of Anaheim.

“Our partnership with City Net is a success story,” Tait said. “There is always more to be done. But now City Net’s work with the county will only enhance and build on the great strides we have made here in Anaheim.”

Meanwhile, Anaheim continues its efforts within the city, which includes weekly outreach, coordination with nonprofits and addressing public safety and quality of life issues.

“We know there are people in need as well as frustration in our neighborhoods,” Tait said. “We must be honest in saying there’s no magic wand or quick fix. Courts have limited the ability to just clear people out. But even that is not a viable, long-term solution. We will continue our daily effort to find people homes, maintain our parks and address our primary responsibility of public safety.”


Here’s all that Anaheim is doing: 

  • Bridges at Kraemer Place shelter: Anaheim is the host city for Orange County’s first year-round homeless shelter, a 200-bed, county of Orange facility that opened in May at 1000 N. Kraemer Place with $500,000 in funding from Anaheim.
  • Anaheim Homeless Collaborative: Led by the city of Anaheim and City Net, a group of more than 100 nonprofits, faith-based groups and government agencies working to get people off the streets by providing access to housing, healthcare and other services.
  • Homeless Outreach Team: Anaheim Police and City Net do weekly outreach to parks, freeway onramps and other places to help the homeless connect with housing and services.
  • Homeless Outreach Court: Anaheim participates in this Superior Court program for the homeless, which helps clear outstanding infractions and minor misdemeanors while providing access to services.
  • Psychological Emergency Response Team: Anaheim Police and Orange County Mental Health Services clinicians conduct outreach to help the homeless find shelter beds or mental health services.
  • Storage centers: Anaheim runs two check-in storage centers for the homeless at La Palma Park and in west Anaheim, providing an alternative to storing belongings at parks or other public places.
  • Resident and business outreach: Anaheim Police work with residents and businesses to take practical steps to minimize impacts of homelessness.
  • Schools pilot program: a partnership with Anaheim Union High School District and Irvine-based nonprofit Illumination Foundation to identify homeless students and provide services and housing to their families.
  • Job training services: federal Community Development Block Grant funding provides job training to families in homeless shelters.


Balancing Outreach, Public Safety

Anaheim provides services for those in need while also addressing community concerns about public safety and quality of life.

Anaheim Police, Code Enforcement, Public Works and other city departments work on a daily basis to address impacts on our neighborhoods.

“We need to preserve parks and our public spaces for everyone to feel safe and enjoy,” Tait said. “We can compassionately address the needs of those who are homeless while also ensuring quality of life for everyone in our city.”

In 2016, Anaheim Police responded to 15,516 calls for service related to homelessness.

When Anaheim Police encounter those who are homeless, they first offer access to shelters and services in accordance with court rulings on addressing homelessness.

When help is declined and issues persist in parks, neighborhoods or near businesses, officers can issue citations under Anaheim’s camping and personal property storage ordinance.

In 2016, 36 citations were issued under the ordinance.

Police and Code Enforcement address abandoned property in our parks and other public spaces by marking it and providing ample notice before removing it.

With the exception of perishable or hazardous items, property collected is then stored for three months for reclaiming.


New Efforts

Anaheim continues to look for and adopt innovative ways to address homelessness.

Too often, drug abuse leads to or extends homelessness. In January, the city launched Drug Free Anaheim, which connects drug users who want help with treatment.

For those not wanted for serious crimes, Drug Free Anaheim allows anyone to approach an Anaheim Police officer or nonprofit partner Social Model Recovery without fear of arrest.

Since January, more than 115 people have taken part in the program.

The city also is in the process of launching Better Way Anaheim, a jobs and life-skills program that offers the dignity of a day’s work to those who are homeless.

In exchange, they receive food and motel vouchers as well as access to services.

The program, announced at Mayor Tait’s State of the City address in January, aims to help those who face obstacles finding jobs and break the cycle homelessness.

In June, the City Council formed the Homeless Policy Working Group to look at current and future policies addressing homelessness.

The group, which meets now through October, includes residents, City Council members, City Net, homeless advocates and representatives of the Anaheim Police Department, the county of Orange and the offices of state senators and assembly members.

For more on the Homeless Policy Working Group as well as videos, a fact sheet, reports on homelessness and ways to get involved, please visit Anaheim.net/homeless.

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