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Posted on: September 12, 2017

City Council declares homeless emergency along river trail, across Anaheim

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ANAHEIM, Calif. (Sept. 13, 2017) — The Anaheim City Council unanimously voted early Wednesday to declare a health and safety state of emergency to address homelessness along the Santa Ana River Trail and across Anaheim.

The Council voted 7-0 to expedite work with the county of Orange to open emergency shelters, increase outreach services and expand law enforcement and public safety along the river trail.

“The Santa Ana River’s purpose is flood control and for people to enjoy as a recreational trail. Obviously, it’s no place for someone to be living,” Mayor Tom Tait said. “It’s the responsibility of the county, our city and neighboring cities to ensure the river is being used as intended and to transition people to better living conditions and appropriate housing as soon as possible. This action by our Council reaffirms our commitment to do that.”

“We are at a crisis point where we have to take action,” said Council Member Kris Murray, the resolution’s author. “The river trail is not a safe or sanitary place for people to live, and our neighborhoods and businesses are being impacted. We have a responsibility to double down on our efforts with the county of Orange and call in every available resource.”

The resolution covers homeless efforts on the river trail and across the city. It calls for Anaheim to:

  • Coordinate with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, Orange Police and other Santa Ana River Trail cities on public safety along the river.
  • Work with the county of Orange to expedite the opening of the remaining 100 beds at Bridges at Kraemer Place, the county’s first year-round homeless shelter that opened in Anaheim in May with an initial 100 beds.
  • Support and assist with a county effort to create a temporary, emergency shelter serving 500 people as way of transitioning those off the river trail.
  • Appeal to the county to make funding available to nonprofits providing shelter and other services to the homeless.
  • Prioritize services for veterans and young adults who have transitioned out of the foster home system.
  • Identify and employ all available regional, state and federal resources to address homelessness on the river trail.
  • Clean and repair damaged city-owned property along the river trail.
  • Promote areas within Anaheim that allow for expedited emergency homeless shelters under state law.
  • Appoint a city executive as a single point of contact for emergency homeless efforts and reports each month to the City Council.

The resolution, which takes effect immediately, came after several hours of public testimony and comment from a variety of perspectives on the issue. More than 50 speakers addressed the Council.

The resolution brings added urgency, focus and coordination to efforts to end homelessness by the city of Anaheim and the county of Orange.

Since January 2014, Anaheim and nonprofit partner City Net have transitioned more than 800 people out of homelessness from the city’s parks, streets and other public places, including along the river trail.

At the same time, Anaheim Police responded to more than 15,000 calls related to homelessness last year, addressing public safety and quality-of-life impacts on Anaheim neighborhoods and businesses.

In July, the county of Orange also enlisted City Net as part of a $720,000 program to end homelessness along the river trail.

Since January, about 50 people have been transitioned off the river trail as part of City Net’s efforts on behalf of the county.

Earlier Tuesday, the county Board of Supervisors approved a framework of a public safety plan for the river trail. The plan would be led by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department with support from Anaheim, Orange and other police departments. Anaheim will provide two homeless outreach officers for the task force, which begins patrols on the river trail on Friday.

For more on Anaheim’s efforts to address homelessness, visit Anaheim.net/homeless.