Throughout Orange County and the State, local governments are struggling with how to best address rising homelessness. According to the 2019 Point in Time Count, the City of Fullerton has an estimated 473 homeless residents with 308 unsheltered on a given night. On July 2, 2019, the City Council declared a “shelter crisis” due to the lack of emergency shelters and has embarked upon a series of efforts to best address the issue.
Last July, the City established a Fullerton Homeless Plan Committee (FHPC) in order to develop a coordinated and collaborative response to homelessness in Fullerton.
The committee was comprised of residents, service providers, faith leaders, the business community, hospitals and colleges. The committee met every other week between August and November, 2019.
The culmination of the FHPC’s work was the development of a Strategic Plan for Addressing Homelessness in Fullerton.
This document was presented for City Council review in conjunction with consideration of specific measures identified in the report for immediate action.
Here are the key recommendations the committee prioritized for immediate action:
-Change the city code to allow properties containing religious institutions to develop permanent supportive housing and/or affordable housing on those properties “by right”.
-Approve use of available City-owned land for the development of Permanent Supportive Housing and/or Affordable Housing and fast track the planning and approval process.
-Develop an affordable housing overlay zone by June 2020 to facilitate “by-right” development of Permanent Supporting Housing and/or Affordable Housing to meet the City’s Regional Housing Need Assessment (RHNA) goals.
-Support emergency shelter / navigation beds for Fullerton homeless individuals at proposed recuperative care/navigation center at 3535 West Commonwealth.
Key Findings of the Committee
Causes of Homelessness in Fullerton include:
1. Lack of housing affordable to very low-income residents.
2. Lack of Permanent Supportive Housing for individuals living with mental illness.
3. Growing numbers of opioid addicted individuals reduced to living on the streets.
4. Lack of jobs with sufficient pay to afford food and shelter in our community.
Housing a homeless individual is less expensive than leaving them on the street. (Source: United Way of OC – Homelessness in Orange County: The Cost to Our Community 2017).
The Anti-Camping Ordinance cannot be enforced until Fullerton can provide year-round shelter for 60% of the unsheltered homeless population. After the proposed Buena Park, Placentia, and Fullerton Navigation Center shelter beds are all available, the City of Fullerton should be able to enforce the Anti- Camping Ordinance.
Homelessness cannot be solved through arrests and requires a system of care, according to Robert Dunn, City of Fullerton Police Chief
Bridges at Kraemer Place, the only available year-round shelter accessible to Fullerton, is close to or at capacity the majority of the year.
Shelters are important, but affordable housing is critical to solving homelessness, according to Cesar Covarrubias of The Kennedy Commission.
Fullerton is falling behind in the Low and Very Low Regional Housing Needs Assessment goal for 2021.
For more information visit www.cityoffullerton.com.
Categories: Local News