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.
The City Council's Homeless Task Force is comprised of council members and community members who have been given the task of developing a response to homelessness in Newport Beach, along with recommending intermediate and long-term solutions. The Task Force formulates and reviews strategies to integrate services, conducts outreach with community partners willing to provide assistance, reviews and considers temporary housing solutions, and develops metrics to monitor the reduction of homelessness. Task Force meetings are open to the public. If you are interested in the issue of homelessness, please consider attending. Sign up for e-notifications here.
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.
The Laws are Complex
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.
Temporary and Permanent Housing
The City, along with financing and development partners and social service providers, opened a 12-unit permanent supportive housing community in 2018 for veterans and low-income seniors. This community is currently at capacity. However, the City is exploring additional options to build more permanent housing in Newport Beach.
In addition, the City has entered a partnership agreement with the City of Costa Mesa to share bed space in a temporary shelter near the John Wayne Airport. That shelter is expected to open in Spring 2021.