City of Santa Ana
With a unanimous vote, the Santa Ana City Council approved a sweep of actions aimed at addressing homelessness during their latest council meeting. Despite numerous efforts to respond compassionately to this issue, the homeless population continues to grow in Santa Ana. As the city with the highest percentage of homeless in Orange County, the Homelessness Prevention, Intervention and Mitigation Plan, approved at the September 19th meeting, calls for immediate action in five key areas:
1. Homeless Services Manager – add a position to serve as the single point of contact for residents, businesses and visitors regarding homeless issues and ensure a response by the appropriate department or agency. The position would also coordinate and chair the homeless inter-departmental committee or task force and serve to inform the community about the city’s efforts and programs.
2. Internal Coordination and Communication – formally establish an inter-departmental committee or task force on homelessness to improve how each city department responds to homeless service requests. The committee would also develop recommendations to address gaps in service, identify resource needs, develop policies and procedures, and recommend other changes in service to improve the City’s response and enforcement capabilities.
3. Coordination with the County of Orange, Neighboring Cities and the Courts –counties have the lead role in providing the services needed to assist and mitigate homeless issues. Homelessness is a regional issue that is on the rise across the entire county and the challenges are not unique to Santa Ana. In addition, the cooperation from the courts in enforcing laws to protect Santa Ana residents, employees and visitors is important. Therefore, it is critical that the County, local governments and the courts work together.
4. Nonprofit and Faith-Based Services – invest in connecting and increasing non-profit and faith-based services available to assist in responding to the City’s homeless crisis by developing a mutually agreed upon strategy.
5. Legislation – develop and implement a specific legislative package to solicit state and federal assistance to respond to the needs for housing, enforcement and social services for the growing homeless population.
“We need to move beyond a scattershot approach and invest where we can achieve the strongest gains,” commented Mayor Pro Tem Michele Martinez. “The new plan provides the opportunity to reexamine existing services and develop new strategies that are based on a data-driven approach,” she added.
Councilmember Sal Tinajero remarked, “While we have taken several steps to address homelessness, Santa Ana continues to shoulder the burden for the County. A dedicated Homeless Services Manager will bring the experience and expertise we need to develop and implement real solutions that are tangible and centered on best practices.”
Based on a survey of the Civic Center, the number of homeless grew from 406 in August 2015 to 461 a year later. More than 700 individuals are provided services on a daily basis at the Courtyard Transitional Center located within the Civic Center area. A county-wide count identified 1,000 homeless individuals in the City of Santa Ana out of 4,792 throughout the County of Orange. As such, Santa Ana ranks as the city with highest percentage of the total homeless population in Orange County.
“Historically, the homeless population has primarily been concentrated in the Civic Center and along the Santa Ana Riverbed. Now, the homeless population is spilling over into our neighborhoods and business districts. The time to take more decisive action is now,” commented Councilmember Juan Villegas.
More information about the City’s plan and efforts is available in the City Council agenda report at: http://santaana.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=1307&meta_id=51939