The City has taken a number of steps to address this very complex issue. City staff and City Net, a contractor that assists with community outreach and case management services, work in collaboration to engage these individuals and connect them with services such as emergency housing, mental and health care, benefits counseling and a variety of other community based programs and services. It is not uncommon for individuals to be resistant to engagement at first. The more successful interventions are built upon a pattern of consistent engagement and building trust so that the individual will be in a position to accept the assistance that will lead to a lasting solution to their homelessness.
The City has a dedicated, full-time police officer and a homeless coordinator who focus on the issue of homelessness. The Homeless Liaison Officer works closely with the County of Orange Health Care Agency's case management staff and City Net to provide homeless outreach services. The uniqueness of each homeless individual's situation requires an individual approach. Due to the fact that each individual's needs are different, our staff works with our homeless individuals on a case-by-case basis.
It is important to understand that often times, individuals are resistant to seeing case workers or our police officers assigned to work with those experiencing homelessness. Multiple visits may be required before we gain a person's trust in a way that opens a conversation about solutions. That is why, in addition to our full-time officer, the City has contracted with City Net to provide homeless outreach services. Street outreach services seeks to connect unsheltered homeless individuals with emergency shelter, housing, critical services, healthcare or urgent, non-facility-based care.
Newport Beach has entered a partnership with the City of Costa Mesa for shelter beds at the Costa Mesa Bridge Shelter, which opened in Spring 2021. In addition to temporary housing, the Bridge Shelter provides case workers who assist homeless individuals with addiction and mental health counseling, job searches, and accessing permanent housing.
Please watch the video below for a closer look at the Costa Mesa Bridge Shelter:
Cities and countries are obligated to follow state laws, federal laws and court rulings that define the parameters of what can and cannot be done when addressing the impacts of homelessness. Newport Beach, along with the rest of the Orange County cities, must follow and comply with those laws and court rulings.
In September 2018, the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that as long as there is no option for sleeping indoors, the government cannot criminalize individuals experiencing homelessness from sleeping outdoors on public property. As a result, the federal judge overseeing Orange County's homeless issues was asked to block cities from enforcing anti-camping laws if the city does not have an adequate, alternative sleeping location for these individuals experiencing homelessness, such as a shelter bed or other housing.