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Mayoral Candidate Katrina Foley wants to eliminate homelessness in Costa Mesa
Foley is currently a mayoral candidate and is out on the campaign trail weekly, but unlike many candidates across the nation, she does not make empty campaign promises. She wants homelessness to end and has been working to make it happen.
She cited the following cost breakdown: "In a 2017 study conducted by the University of California Irvine, United Way and Jamboree Housing estimated the annual cost of homelessness in Orange County to be $299 million, $120 million of which is shouldered by cities. Because so much of our first responders' time is spent on the homeless, the rest of the community's public safety is at greater risk. Additionally, homelessness costs our county's hospitals $77 million annually, making health care more expensive for everyone," said Foley.
She believes the city leaders must resolve homelessness, not only because it is so costly, but also because it erodes the quality of life and leads to profound human suffering in the community.
While serving as Mayor in March 2017, Foley brought together the City Council and executive staff to prioritize efforts. The council agreed unanimously that addressing homelessness was a top priority.
According to Foley, "For years, we have had an extensive program to address homelessness in Costa Mesa. Each Thursday at City Hall, the Network for Homeless Solutions – which includes City staff and representatives of local non-profits – meets to discuss specific cases and developments in our efforts to reduce homelessness in Costa Mesa. The City devotes approximately $1 million each year to combating homelessness. Funds are expended on outreach workers as well as police officers assigned to our Community Policing Unit. In the 2018-2019 budget, we allocated an additional $100,000 to mitigate the effects of homelessness, such as trash and loitering. This was in direct response to a survey I initiated to local businesses conducted earlier this year in which business owners emphasized these effects hurt their bottom line."
Costa Mesans encounter homelessness every day, but without the consistent work of City staff and community partners such as Trellis, things would be much worse. "Through these efforts, including the humane enforcement of our anti-camping laws, we have avoided dangerous and unsanitary encampments such as those experienced in Anaheim at the Santa Ana River trail and at the Santa Ana Civic Center. Still, there is more that can and should be done, especially on a regional level, " said Foley.
John Stephens, Foley's City Council colleague, is currently the Chairman of the ACC-OC Homelessness Task Force, an advocacy group for Orange County cities. Foley stated that in February, she attended a meeting held by the ACC-OC, along with Board of Supervisors Chairman Andrew Do and elected officials from 31 cities in Orange County. At that meeting, the ACC-OC rolled out a plan to develop 2,700 permanent supportive housing units throughout Orange County over the next seven years. Both private and public funding would be used to achieve this goal, and pending legislation (AB448) would establish the Orange County Housing Trust, which may be used to pool public (i.e., state grants) and private funds to provide financing for the permanent supportive housing projects. In June, Costa Mesa sent a letter to the State Senate endorsing AB448, which is sponsored by most State legislators from Orange County. AB448 sailed through the senate 37-0 and is now in the Assembly for a vote.
The Orchard, developed by Community Development Partners and operated by Mercy House, is a successful example of a permanent supportive housing project in Santa Ana. Formerly a dilapidated, abandoned motel, most of the residents of the 71-unit project were relocated from the Civic Center encampment. These individuals are now permanently off the streets. Another noteworthy example is the Cove in Newport Beach, recently launched by Community Development Partners and Mercy House. The Cove is a permanent supportive apartment complex serving formerly homeless veterans and seniors.
Foley asserts that "projects like the Orchard and the Cove provide hope that we can substantially reduce homelessness in Orange County in the foreseeable future if we have a regional plan (including public and private funding) and stick to it."
In Foley's opinion, "preventing Homelessness and addressing its impacts requires thoughtful consideration, long term planning, intentional effective interventions and compassionate enforcement, not just talking points."
Foley has been committed to making Costa Mesa better for residents, especially families, since she first began serving as a planning commissioner back in 1999. "My sleeves are rolled up and I will continue to work to make the city better for our families," said Foley.
Learn more about Katrina Foley at http://www.katrinafoley.com