By Anita Coleman; original article available here.
Recently, the Orange County Board of Supervisors, California, voted to use land that it owns in the City of Irvine near the Great Park, to erect temporary housing shelters for people vacated from the Santa Ana Riverbed. This week the Irvine City Council held an emergency meeting and listened to public comments before deciding upon litigation to stop the County from following its plan. I posted the facts below because of the mis-statements and myths that were being casually thrown out by vociferous city residents on NextDoor. There was “outrage” and protesting. They didn’t want the “homeless addicts housed near our homes,” people who “choose to be homeless,” “have refused services and continue to live a life of crime and drugs!” I’ve edited the original and share it here. I hope it inspires us to become informed, kind neighbors.
Homelessness is a complex and complicated problem. There is no easy, quick solution. Government alone cannot solve it. Rather, what’s worked is collaborative and innovative partnerships, committed leadership across the public and private sectors. The process is long-term, non-partisan, and has to be supported, indeed actively encouraged by the citizens. Some facts:
1) Economic uncertainty (finding/keeping a job with sustainable wage) is one of the major factors (40%) precipitating homelessness for a majority of the homeless in the OC. Other factors include Lack of affordable housing, foreclosure, eviction (36%), Family issues:divorce, death of family member, domestic violence (28%), Alcohol and/or drugs (22%), Mental health (17%), Physical health (13%), and Release from jail/prison (7%). Who is experiencing homelessness? A majority are American citizens, with 68% living in OC 10 years or more, and only 10% are foreign born. 12% veterans. Average rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in 2015 was $1,800. 47% have schooling beyond high school. See http://www.prweb.com/releases/2017/11/prweb14936980.htm Don’t miss the infographic shown in the side too as it points out the costs for all of us in the OC — upwards of $300 million! — The Cost of Homelessness https://www.jamboreehousing.com/uploads/pdfs/jamboree-infographic-cost-of-oc-homelessness-study-2017.pdf
2) Homelessness in the OC is also because of the housing shortages, a regional and statewide issue. Irvine is a leader in inclusionary affordable housing. We have 24 affordable housing complexes tucked away near/inside every one of our regular communities. See for example one of our newest https://www.jamboreehousing.com/what-we-do/affordable-housing-development/inclusionary ; Read City of Irvine Housing Element (2013 — 2021) as well as the Strategy & Implementation Plan <https://legacy.cityofirvine.org/civica/filebank/blobdload.asp?BlobID=8842>
3) Integration, not segregation, is the long term solution for homelessness. There are implementations of such: Cenury Villages at Cabrillo in Long Beach, and the Skid Row Housing Trust. The Skid Row Housing Trust is a particularly persuasive model for the Irvine land near Great Park as it can be planned to fit OC Great Park and OC Neighborhoods aesthetics. Furthermore, Irvine has no — yes, that’s right — no shelters, neither emergency nor transitional — and yet, up to 10 % UCI college students experience homelessness. Recently, United Way and UCI began rallying people to work together to solve OC homelessness — you can participate by signing at https://www.unitedtoendhomelessness.org
4) Homelessness is not the only people problem our county faces. The OC population is aging too. Along with aging, sadly, elder abuse and neglect is on the rise in the OC. See http://www.ochealthiertogether.org/content/sites/ochca/OC_Older_Adult_Report_2016.pdf
5) The increasing homelessness is also fueled by the housing crisis. There’s not enough housing units to meet current needs. Yet, new people keep pouring into the state and county. We just don’t have enough housing for all. Over 50% of Irvine affordable households are renters. Of these, ~40% are overburdened renters (that is, they pay more than 30% of income for rent). See here (affordable housing Irvine) and here (generic, all Irvine). Many more are commuters. Working in Irvine, living elsewhere these hard working people (e.g. our police) add to our quality of life but suffer in their own lives from long and congested commutes.
The solutions for these problems are linked. We have this crisis in part because the city and county keep kicking the problems of homelessness back and forth. Although, we, in Irvine, have over 10 not for profits that work in the areas of homelessness and affordable housing, they can’t solve the problem on their own. We, the community must come together and hold ourselves accountable too. Collaborative, courageous and visionary leaders helped to attract and build a thriving middle class in Irvine. City of Irvine paid its contractors a living wage long before many others did (this was, however, recently repealed). The OC Great Park and Irvine Community Land Trust, our tradition of excellent planning, many diverse faith communities, work and service ethic of volunteering, makes Irvine uniquely positioned to exercise leadership countywide in this area and help the OC shine.
By Anita Coleman
Reposted with permission; original article available here.
If you would like the City of Irvine to end homelessness in the OC (background story at this link), please write to the Board of Supervisors as well as the City of Irvine Council members. You can adapt, modify, or use parts of the following statement:
I’ve lived in Irvine for almost 25 years and I believe that Irvine is well positioned to help end homelessness in the OC. The cutting edge, bold, and collaborative leadership that exemplifies Irvine (e.g. OC Great Park, Irvine Community Land Trust) though appears to be absent now. Instead, scared homeowners, many relatively new to Irvine and probably unaware of the long shameful years of OC cities and the OC Board of Supervisors kicking the problem around, have gained the upper hand. Less than a handful of folks are aware that what’s driving people to experience homelessness in the OC is economic uncertainty coupled with a housing crisis. All the experts, those who work with them and offer them services, agree that solving homelessness requires working together across sectors and with society. County alone cannot solve it although county now has located ~$70 to 700 million (?) and proposes using it to expand permanent supportive housing (housing with mental health services). Few are willing to step up to lead such long-term collaboration. The city of Irvine can. We can. Friends, do we want our beautiful city in the heart of OC to thrive? Yet another decision by the City to litigate against the County is not the answer. Come my friends, help me. Share this message. Get involved. Write the City and the Board. Affirm Judge Carter. Encourage the Board and City to stop wasting resources litigating, and begin to identify solutions that will work.
Write/Email/Call each member of the Board of Supervisors. Encourage them to unify and cooperate with Judge Carter, not try to find ways to say he’s exceeded his authority and stop him— Todd Spitzer OC Supervisor (714) 834–3330 Todd.Spitzer@ocgov.com | Lisa Bartlett Supervisor, 5th District (714) 834.3550 Lisa.Bartlett@ocgov.com | Andrew Do, Chairman (714) 834–3110 Andrew.Do@ocgov.com| Shawn Nelson, Vice-Chair (714) 834–3440 Shawn.Nelson@ocgov.com| Michelle Steel (714) 834–3220 Michellle.Steel@ocgov.com
Email your affirmation and support of Judge David O. Carter — Judge David O. Carter, District Judge DOC_Chambers@cacd.uscourts.gov
Encourage Irvine City Council Members and Mayor to drop litigation and find collaborative solutions and implement innovations that strengthen the current plan so that the people experiencing homelessness don’t end up staying in temporary make-shift shelters for long — 949–724–6233 | email@example.com
Learn about the OC housing crisis, learn who the “homeless” are and tell your friends who they really are — persons experiencing homelessness — de-stigmatize the situation and reduce prejudice against them; sign the Sign the United Way and UCI Proclamation on Homelessness. Check out Century Villages at Cabrillo in Long Beach, Skid Row Housing Trust, Solutions for Change website and YouTube videos. Solutions for Change has a unique model that has helped to end homelessness for families (with problems such as drug addiction) in 5 cities in North San Diego County. Skid Row Housing Trust may actually be a model for what could be done — permanent supportive housing mixed in with some affordable housing — in the county owned land in Irvine across from the Great Park. Skid Row Trust shows just how beautiful and successful well planned integration of the homeless, not segregation, can be. Irvine has a track record of successfully, beautifully, and cost-effectively planning and implementing inclusive affordable housing.
Attend the BOS Meeting March 27th 9:30am BOARD OF SUPERVISOR’S MEETING March 27th, 9:30am BOARD HEARING ROOM FIRST FLOOR 333 W. Santa Ana Blvd. Santa Ana, California
Become part of the solution. Be the change you want to see in the world. We in Irvine can be good neighbors who help all OC communities thrive and shine. Thank you.
Orange County Democratic Party Adopts Resolution Urging Cities to Approve Home Construction to Reduce Housing Costs
Resolution is Co-Authored by People for Housing - Orange County, Associated Students UC Irvine Housing Security Commission
Irvine, Calif. (March 12, 2018) — The Democratic Party of Orange County (DPOC), the governing body of the Democratic Party in the nation's sixth-largest county, approved a resolution last week urging the county's 34 cities to approve more housing developments and reduce land use regulations that restrict home construction. The resolution notes rising housing costs are largely a result of restrictive zoning that limits the supply of housing, and increasing the supply can reduce the cost of housing across Orange County.
The resolution calls on leaders with land-use authority to approve homes located near public transportation and in walkable communities with an emphasis on more affordable multi-family housing. It also asks lawmakers to increase affordable housing subsidies and reduce regulatory barriers to housing construction. Responding to several cities that have attempted to restrict home building at the ballot box, the resolution opposes "zoning and planning through ballot-box initiatives and referenda" that restrict funding or approval of affordable housing.
The resolution was approved on February 26, 2018 by the Central Committee of the Democratic Party of Orange County, which includes local Democrats elected by voters in each Assembly District, as well as partisan-level Democratic elected officials and nominees.
The resolution was co-authored by Kenneth Stahl, coordinator of the Irvine chapter of People for Housing - OC and Director of the Environmental, Land Use and Real Estate Law program at Chapman University Fowler School of Law, and Cassius Rutherford, an undergraduate student at UC Irvine and Director of the Associated Students UCI Housing Commission.
Stahl characterized the statement as a landmark resolution because it identifies building new housing as a solution to the lack of affordable housing in Orange County. "This resolution sends a strong message that municipalities need to approve more housing at all income levels in order to prevent Orange County from becoming a place where only the wealthy can afford to live," he said. Rutherford said "It's important for the Democratic Party to show the younger generation of renting working professionals, young families, and students that when it comes to housing policy, we have their back."
Orange County’s housing costs are among the highest in the country, and have contributed to an increase in homelessness, a rapidly aging population, a decline in economic productivity, and long commutes for many Orange County workers.