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Posted on: September 26, 2018

Anaheim steps up efforts to address homelessness with additional parks staff, outreach

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ANAHEIM, Calif. (Sept. 26, 2018) — Anaheim plans to spend up to $400,000 to address the impacts of homelessness on parks and other public spaces in the next few months as the city works to settle litigation and move forward on the next steps of a comprehensive homelessness plan.

Anaheim’s City Council on Tuesday approved the additional spending, which gives the city the flexibility to add staff to parks and homeless outreach teams and to provide funding for emergency shelter beds as needed.

The spending is designed to address homelessness as Anaheim works to open 200 shelter beds in coming months as part of a lawsuit settlement related to the early 2018 clearing of the Santa Ana River Trail by the county of Orange.

Increased security at parks

Since January, Anaheim has contracted with Orange-based Lyons Security Service Inc. to provide an around-the-clock presence in parks by supplementing the work of Anaheim Police, park rangers and code enforcement.

Additional funding is set to go toward added security staff and overnight patrols at parks as needed. Lyons Security officers observe, report and make people aware of park closure hours, working with Anaheim Police as needed.

More park rangers

Anaheim’s some 30 park rangers serve as a reassuring presence at parks before, during and after open hours. Rangers help with events, ensure equipment is safe and open and close facilities and trails. They also make people aware of park rules and call upon Anaheim Police if they encounter security concerns that hamper someone’s enjoyment of a park. Anaheim’s part-time park rangers are set to see additional hours as needed.

Additional code enforcement

Code enforcement officers have the ability to enforce city and state laws and park rules. Members of Anaheim’s 40-person code enforcement team are set to see additional hours at parks.

Expanded homeless outreach

Since 2014, the city has teamed with Anaheim-based City Net to provide weekly outreach to help people out of homelessness. In the past four years, City Net has helped get 1,383 off Anaheim’s streets, with an 89 percent retention rate.

The city’s recently approved funding could support additional outreach efforts by City Net as needed, along with a separately approved agreement on Tuesday that expands City Net outreach from two to five days a week in Anaheim.

Emergency shelter

Funding also can be used to support nonprofit partners such as Grandma’s House of Hope, Streetlight Ministries and Pathways of Hope when there is need for emergency shelter space to get someone off the street.

Next steps

The additional spending will help address the impacts of homelessness as Anaheim works to add shelter beds in the next few months.

The city is working with the Salvation Army of Orange County to create 200 emergency shelter beds in an industrial part of Anaheim.

Longer term, the Salvation Army could replace those 200 beds with a 400-person homeless facility called Center of Hope.

You can learn more about Center of Hope here.

The effort is part of Anaheim’s work to settle a lawsuit filed in January over the clearing of the Santa Ana River Trail.

Along with the county, the lawsuit also included Anaheim, Orange and Costa Mesa.

The settlement, which is being finalized now, calls for Anaheim to add shelter space so we can continue helping people out of homelessness and keep addressing impacts on our parks, streets and neighborhoods.

The additional shelter space and interim efforts also help address a recent federal court ruling in an Idaho case that found cities cannot enforce laws against camping or sleeping in public if no other shelter options are available.

Anaheim’s approach focuses on outreach and providing pathways out of homelessness through services, shelter, employment and ultimately long-term housing.

While never an answer to homelessness, enforcement is used in specific cases when someone breaks the law. In cases where someone has no alternative to homelessness, we turn to outreach and work with partners to find shelter and services.

To learn more about what Anaheim is doing to address homelessness, please see Anaheim.net/homeless.

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