MOORLACH UPDATE — Year-Round Emergency Shelter — January 16, 2013

The first, fully agendized Board of Supervisors meeting occurred yesterday and item number 29, the topic of today’s UPDATE, was unanimously approved.  As the Chair of the Commission to End Homelessness, I’m excited about this development.  All of the studies and analysis that has been done on the subject of addressing homelessness strongly indicates the need for a year-round emergency shelter.  Providing two armories during the winter months is a good policy.  Providing year-round, multiple service centers in each district would be a great policy.  The approval of the possible Fullerton location was historic and the first of many steps in the direction of having the County provide for a more compassionate and appropriate approach to dealing with those who are temporarily or chronically homeless.

The OC Register covers it in the first piece below, with a few photos of our first meeting (and the new seating arrangement).  KPCC 89.3 FM addresses the subject in the second piece and the Voice of OC does it in the final two pieces, including the fourth piece that came out shortly before yesterday’s meeting.

BONUS:   Today’s topic is also a great opportunity for me to invite you to participate in the biennial Point in Time Count and Survey of the Homeless.  The County, in collaboration with OC Partnership and the Commission to End Homelessness, will conduct Orange County’s Count on the morning of January 26, 2013.  The effort is to help ensure all of our homeless residents are counted to better determine the necessary systems changes needed to address this important regional issue.  I hope to see you at Collette’s Children’s Home on the 26th!   Here are some bullet points:

WHAT IS THE POINT IN TIME COUNT AND SURVEY?

·         To qualify for Federal Continuum of Care funding, a biennial homeless count is mandated for all communities by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

·         Homeless counts take place across the country during the last 10 days of January (January 26th for the OC).

·         Anyone involved in the issue of homelessness is part of the Orange County Continuum of Care. The lead agency for the Continuum of Care is the County’s OC Community Services Homeless Prevention Division. OC Partnership, a nonprofit partner, manages the homeless count process in partnership with OC Community Services, the Commission to End Homelessness, and County’s Health Care Agency. In addition, other partners include providers of services to homeless and at-risk populations, faith-based organizations, a Point in Time Count Advisory group (comprised of sheltered and unsheltered individuals), community volunteers, and other stakeholders.

WHEN IS THE COUNT?

·         Unsheltered Count & Survey:  SATURDAY, JANUARY 26th – meet at 4:00 am at one of five (5) Deployment Centers, deploy to areas at 5:00 am and return around 8:00 am

WHERE?

There are five Deployment Centers located throughout Orange County:

1.       OC Partnership – 1505 E. 17th Street, Ste. 100, Santa Ana, CA 92705

2.       Collette’s Children’s Home – 17301 Beach Blvd., Suite 23, Huntington Beach, CA 92647

3.       Orange County Rescue Mission – One Hope Drive, Tustin, CA 92782

4.       Fullerton Community Center – 340 West Commonwealth Avenue, Fullerton, CA 92832

5.       Family Assistance Ministries – 1030 Calle Negocio, San Clemente, CA  92673

MANY VOLUNTEERS ARE NEEDED

This is a meaningful opportunity for teams to be trained for the “Count” on the morning of January 26th.  You will be joined by members of the Commission to End Homelessness, County and City Officials.

Over 1,000 volunteers are needed, to serve as:

·         FIELD TEAMS (identify and count homeless in predetermined mapped areas)

·         FIELD SURVEYORS (getting to know those in need by administering a short survey)

·         SUPPORT CREW (helping those in the field at a “Deployment Center”)

·         HOMELESS GUIDES (if you are a Service Agency, we ask that you recommend responsible people)

TRAINING

Training is required and will be provided, starting on January 13th and running throughout the week, at the five (5) Deployment Centers, which are aligned with the Districts. A makeup session will be held the week of January 20th.

HOW TO SIGN UP & TRAINING INFORMATION

Go to the Homeless Count website www.pointintimeoc.org  and sign up to Volunteer. 

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Call Sharon McKeag Ash of OC Partnership at : 714-288-4007 ext. 1116

Supervisors OK buying Fullerton building for year-round shelter

It would be open 24 hours a day, replacing seasonal armory shelter.

By ANDREW GALVIN

Orange County’s Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved the purchase of a former furniture store in Fullerton for conversion into a year-round emergency shelter for the homeless, the county’s first.

The $3.15 million purchase of the building at 301 S. State College Blvd. is contingent on the county completing due diligence and Fullerton approving a necessary zoning change.

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Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach speaks during their meeting in Santa Ana on Tuesday. Supervisors were considering buying a building at 301 S. State College Blvd. and using it as an emergency shelter for the homeless.

PAUL BERSEBACH, ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

The year-round shelter, when completed, would replace a seasonal shelter at the Fullerton armory that operates from December through March. A similar seasonal shelter operates at a Santa Ana armory.

The planned shelter would be open 24 hours a day, unlike the seasonal shelters, which eject the homeless early each morning and take them in again each evening.

The unanimous vote came after the supervisors heard from 14 members of the public, including Fullerton Mayor Bruce Whitaker, who asked the board to postpone approval of the purchase, saying Fullerton’s City Council hadn’t discussed it and there had been "no efforts to communicate the plan to neighboring property owners."

Supervisor Shawn Nelson, who led efforts to find a North County site for a year-round shelter, responded that it was important to lock in the deal with the owner of the property while Fullerton goes through its zoning process, which would include public hearings. "If we don’t enter into a contract first, we can have an owner disappear on us," Nelson said.

Ten of the public speakers, including advocates for the homeless and the mentally ill, urged the board to buy the building.

Among them was Ron Thomas, father of Kelly Thomas, a mentally ill man who lived on Fullerton’s streets. Kelly Thomas died in 2011, days after suffering grave injuries in a confrontation with six Fullerton police officers. Two of the officers are facing trial.

"I give my total support to this," Thomas said. "I hope it spreads throughout the county."

Dominick Gillotte, who lives near the proposed shelter site, described himself as "adamantly opposed," saying he fears an increase in crime.

County leaders envision offering a full complement of services at the site, in addition to shelter, to help remedy the causes of homelessness.

Cpl. J.D. DeCaprio, homeless liaison for the Fullerton police, told Gillotte after the board meeting that the police would have an office in the proposed shelter building, as would the school district, local churches, and agencies that assist veterans and the mentally ill.

"The homeless are already in our community," DeCaprio told Gillotte. "We’re not going to ignore it anymore. … We’re going to manage it. … The armory isn’t the answer, not when they push them out at 5a.m."

Gillotte replied that he supports efforts to help the homeless, but "I think it’s the wrong facility. It needs to go somewhere else."

Nelson, a former mayor of Fullerton, said during the meeting that wherever a shelter goes, some will have grievances, "and the grievance goes like this: put it somewhere else."

A dearth of suggestions for shelter sites was an issue Nelson said he faced in leading a North County roundtable on homelessness he convened in February in the wake of the stabbing deaths of four homeless men. Itzcoatl Ocampo, a Marine and an Iraq war veteran, is facing the death penalty in those deaths and two others.

Cameron Irons, a longtime friend of Nelson’s who is a commercial real estate broker in Fullerton, offered to help find a site, Nelson said. Irons identified the furniture store as a possibility and negotiated its purchase on behalf of the county, Nelson said Friday.

Irons stands to gain a commission, paid by the seller of the property, if the deal goes through after a 150-day due diligence period, Nelson said. Irons would have to negotiate any commission with the seller’s broker, Nelson said. Based on a purchase price of $3.15 million, a commission of 3 percent would be $94,500.

In approving the purchase Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors also approved a sole-source contract with Irons’ firm, Vanguard Commercial Brokerage. "Vanguard is the only identified vendor with all the combined skills, experience and capabilities … required for this transaction," county staff said as justification for not seeking other brokers.

One of the aspects of the site that makes it fit for a shelter is that the Orange County Transportation Authority plans to lower State College Boulevard by 25 to 30 feet to allow vehicles to pass beneath nearby railroad tracks, Nelson said. The embankment that will be created will help isolate the shelter from nearby homes, he said.

Moreover, if the purchase goes through, the county would receive about $1 million from OCTA for the taking of land required for the road-lowering project, Nelson said. That would reduce the county’s net purchase price to a little over $2 million, he said.

The seller of the former furniture store is identified in a report by county staff as "Philip Linder and Eric Foucrier, a California general partnership."

Contact the writer: agalvin@ocregister.com

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Orange County Supervisors John Moorlach and Patricia Bates listen to public comments during their meeting in Santa Ana on Tuesday. Supervisors unanimously approved purchasing a former furniture store at 301 S. State College Blvd. in Fullerton for conversion into a year-round homeless shelter.

PAUL BERSEBACH, ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

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Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach speaks as supervisors Patricia Bates, Shawn Nelson and Janet Nguyen, from left, listen during their meeting in Santa Ana on Tuesday. Supervisors were considering buying a building at 301 S. State College Blvd. and using it as an emergency shelter for the homeless.

PAUL BERSEBACH, ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

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Orange County spending $3.2 million to create Fullerton homeless shelter

KPCC Wire Services

The Orange County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a plan Tuesday to spend $3.2 million to acquire a closed Linder’s Furniture site in Fullerton to convert into a year-round homeless shelter.

The approval came despite complaints from some neighbors who contend the shelter would increase crime in the area, and Fullerton Mayor Bruce Whitaker’s request that the supervisors delay the vote for a few weeks so city officials could discuss the deal.

"I’m here neither to oppose or support this project, but to ask for a brief delay in approval of this," Whitaker said. "Our City Council is behind the curve on this."

Whitaker’s predecessor as mayor, Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-Fullerton) sent a representative to Tuesday’s meeting to support the establishment of a year-round shelter at 301 S. State College Blvd.

Orange County Supervisor Todd Spitzer noted that county officials asked city staffers last month if the shelter would comply with the city’s general plan and received an affirmative answer on January 7.

"So somebody in your city deliberated on this issue preliminarily," he told the mayor.

Board Chairman Shawn Nelson said he understood the concerns of neighbors, but he challenged them to suggest alternative sites. He also noted the deal would be in escrow for up to 150 days, so the county can address any concerns during that time.

"The purpose of getting the contract signed is so the owner doesn’t change his mind," Nelson said.

Nelson also challenged the assertions of some neighbors that the shelter would increase crime in the area.

"Having lived next door to the (Fullerton) armory for 10 years, there’s no crime — certainly it’s not related to the armory — and anyone who says so is making it up," Nelson said, referring to the shelter that’s open only part of the year. "Crime isn’t the issue with the armory."

Nelson also pointed out that the Orange County Transportation Authority and Fullerton officials are working a grade-separation project for a rail crossing at the site that would substantially reduce the property’s value.

"It’s not going to look like it does today," Nelson said of the site’s future.

The property will be surrounded by a rail crossing, industrial park and a barrier separating neighbors from the shelter, Nelson said.

"This is our best effort," Nelson said. "We finally have a shot, and I apologize if it falls short of perfection."

Supervisor John Moorlach, chairman of the Commission to End Homelessness, called it an "amazing opportunity," and stressed that the Fullerton shelter would be "the first, but not the only. We were challenged to put one in each (supervisor’s) district and I think that’s the goal."

He was referring to the board’s approval last January of a 10-year plan to end homelessness, which includes the establishment of more than one year-round emergency shelter to replace the seasonal Armory Emergency Shelter programs in the county.

The year-round shelter would also provide services for the homeless to get them off the streets. Moorlach envisions a shelter that includes a food bank and offers various necessities such as clothes for job interviews and medical checkups.

Nelson, in support of the 10-year plan on homelessness, convened the North County Roundtable on Homelessness last February. That effort dovetailed with the work of the Fullerton Task Force on Homelessness, which was formed following the in-custody beating death of schizophrenic transient Kelly Thomas in that city.

Thomas’ father praised the year-round shelter plan.

"What I see is a fabulous opportunity to help people," Ron Thomas said. "This is a start. I think places around the nation are going to look at Orange County and see what’s happening here as they have and model themselves after what you’re doing."

Last spring, Nelson asked roundtable members to submit potential sites for the year-round emergency shelter. Working with Fullerton officials and a local real estate broker, the State College property was identified as the best location, according to county officials.

Getting other cities on board with developing year-round shelters throughout the county is an ongoing battle, Moorlach said.

"We’ve got to deal with this awkwardness of having the homeless problem, but where do we do this?" Moorlach said. "That’s why we need multiple locations … Santa Ana feels that it’s always just them (expected to house a shelter)."

Supervisor Janet Nguyen said she is working with Santa Ana officials on establishing a year-round shelter in that city.

"It’s a very sensitive issue," Nguyen said. "The answer (to homelessness) has to come from the county — it’s a regional problem, but it has to be done with the cooperation with the cities."

Some Santa Ana officials feel that a year-round shelter would draw transients from Long Beach and other cities, Moorlach said, adding he doubts that would happen.

Laguna Beach has a shelter for south county, and "has been really good about running it," Moorlach said.

With contributions by Ed Joyce

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County To Buy Building for Year-Round Homeless Shelter

NICK GERDA

Faced with an ambitious plan to end homelessness countywide that has yet to gain much momentum, Orange County supervisors moved forward Tuesday with a plan to buy a furniture store in Fullerton that would serve as the county’s first year-round emergency shelter, against the protest of Fullerton Mayor Bruce Whitaker who called for a delay.

Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to purchase a 29,000 square foot building at a price of $3.15 million, slightly more than the assessed market value for the property of $2.9 million.

Escrow is expected to take 150 days, and a zoning change by Fullerton city leaders is expected to facilitate the building’s use as a homeless shelter.

Tuesday’s action was met with praise from homeless advocates and opposition from some disgruntled residents.

“What I see is a fabulous opportunity to help people,” said Ron Thomas, whose son Kelly was beaten to death by Fullerton police officers in July 2011. The case, which garnered national attention, triggered a recall of city council members and district attorney criminal charges against three officers.

“This new facility will help everybody, no matter what their situation is, and get them in the right direction,” Thomas said.

Local residents expressed concern over crime, property damage, and the safety of children if the shelter is established. Several homes are across the street from the proposed site on S. State College Blvd.

Supervisor Shawn Nelson, whose district includes the proposed site, said he’s repeatedly asked opponents to suggest a

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