Local News

Project HOPE Envisions Collaborative Response to Homelessness

Fullerton City Council voted unanimously on January 19 to devote $650,000 of recent CARES Act funding for a new collaborative homeless endeavor called Project HOPE.

Project Hope (Homeless Outreach and Proactive Engagement) aims to serve as a center for coordinating homeless services. The Homeless Police Liaison Officers, Homeless Case Managers, and health service providers will be housed at a City-owned site near St. Jude Hospital for coordinated outreach and services.

The site will not be a shelter but rather an office from which to better coordinate services.

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For the past four years local homeless outreach and preventions programs had been funded by the North Orange County Public Safety Task Force. Funding for this program ends in June 2021 and one of the purposes of Project HOPE is to pick up where this program left off. The project is seeking to accept other north Orange County cities who wish to join.

“The HOPE center will provide a centralized home for stakeholders and create a synergy of collaboration among the partners, thus creating a hub of innovation where ideas are shared and resources are pooled, all to better serve people experiencing homelessness in Fullerton and surrounding communities,” a staff report says.

Deputy Director of Community and Economic Development Kellee Fritzal said the program shares some similarities with the CAHOOTS program in Oregon, and she thinks it’s “a little better focused, and a whole lot less expensive” than CAHOOTS.

“This would be a site where, let’s say we need to gather a mental health worker, an ambulance to pick somebody up—all of those could go from Project HOPE out to the location instead of police officers,” Fritzal said. “Of course, our police officers will be at the site. We’re hoping numerous cities will be at the site with us, and as a group we can more efficiently and effectively deal with our homeless situation.”

Fullerton Police Chief Robert Dunn said, “This was an idea born out of conversations with the community where the desire is for less law enforcement involvement in our engagement with the homeless population, as well as building on that synergy we’ve been able to accomplish among law enforcement and cities. The idea is that all of the cities that are involved, hopefully they’ll join us, bring those resources that are already being allocated to their organizations to bear at this facility, and we can be the most effective with the most acute cases in the quickest possible time.”

It is the City’s goal to have a plan to implement Project HOPE in Spring 2021 and will be ready to commence operations by July 1, 2021.

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