Potential Homeless Task Force Action Items by 62U3mjm


									Goals & Action Item

The Homeless Task Force was formed by the City Council in
January 2011 in response to a series of incidents in the Lions
Park vicinity. Problems included multiple encounters between
the homeless population and library and community center
patrons, and complaints from adjacent property owners.

The focus of the 17-member Task Force was on the chronic
homeless in the Lions Park vicinity

Responsibility for organizing the meetings was given to the
HCD Division in conjunction with other City staff including
members of the Costa Mesa Police Department (CMPD) and
the City Attorney’s office. Meetings were facilitated by Larry
Haynes, Executive Director of Mercy House Transitional Living
   Costa Mesa Homeless Task Force
         Mission Statement

  “Establish Realistic Strategies and Make
Recommendations that Address the Needs of
  the Costa Mesa Community, Residents,
       Businesses and the Homeless”

Meetings focused on a variety of topics

Civility law (ordinance) review
Homeless law enforcement combined with municipal
code prosecution and mental health outreach
Mental health and medical issues plaguing the
Financing strategies/funds available for supportive
Developing a definition of a “Costa Mesa Homeless
Homeless Needs Assessment conducted by
Vanguard University

Committee members and staff visited a variety of
cities and organizations including Pasadena,
Carlsbad, Village of Hope in Tustin and Laguna
Beach. Trips focused on identifying institutions that
had experience with chronic homelessness and could
offer insight to the nature of practices and policy
(best practices).

Meetings also focused on the analysis of CMPD
response to the issue in recent years, and included
law enforcement professionals offering innovative
approaches to homeless enforcement

Concurrently, HCD staff organized an In-House Coordinating
Committee. These parties included other departments from
the City , County-level departments and nonprofits,
Probation, Parole, as well as City staff impacted on-site at the
Lions Park area.

This body met at the Donald Duggan Library on a monthly
basis in order to keep apprised of the progress of the Task
Force and to consult on recommendations, improved
coordination or shared expertise.

The main focus of this group was to identify daily
problems/complaints which needed to be addressed on an
ongoing basis.


Ongoing voluntary assistance provided on a weekly basis at both
Lions Park and Donald Duggan Library by both the Orange County
Health Care Agency and local non profits such as Veterans First.
 – OCHCA had over 180 engagements with mentally ill homeless, and 10
   linkages to housing.

Creation of de facto “Homeless Enforcement Team. ” From
8/2010-12/31/2011 there have been 137 arrests and 245 citations
to individuals in the Lions Park vicinity - 4 Park Rangers are in place.
 – CMPD and Veterans First reported 14 people helped off the streets,
   including 9 veterans.

City staff has worked closely with Church Consortium to encourage
churches to work on alternate HTF solutions vs. food sharing in
Lions Park.

Constant communication and follow-up between residents, CMPD,
City staff and City Attorney regarding court referrals, stay away
orders, citizen complaints, homeless service referrals            7
Churches continue their suspension of two weekend food
sharing programs.

Churches Consortium have developed a privately funded
storage area for homeless items for Costa Mesa residents to
reduce CMPD time on collecting abandoned property left in
the parks.

Proactive effort by CMPD and City Attorney’s Office leading to
more vigorous prosecution efforts and better communication
with District Attorney’s office.

Coordinated with HUD on the use of County of Orange
Continuum of Care funds for supportive housing actions,
including identification of potential hotel sites

Meetings with local liquor stores regarding responsible
alcohol sales.

Community meetings with residents to ensure that
complaints are being tracked by CMPD.

Outside law enforcement jurisdictions cease dropping off
offenders at Charlie Street.

Meeting between CMPD and other law enforcement agencies
in an effort to prevent common practice of using Costa Mesa
hotels and social services for non residents.

The development of a series of ordinances designed to
address quality of life issues in the entire City including the
passage of a prohibition of smoking in city parks.                9
The overwhelming conclusion after a nine-month process is
that ending homelessness is a regional responsibility which
can only be accomplished by provision of housing,
appropriate services and a multi-faceted approach to law
enforcement. Additionally, a “one-size-fits-all” approach is
not recommended.

Many of the goals and solutions presented are collaborative
and integrative vs. a one-shot approach to a problem.

Best practices indicate successful models establish actions in
the context of a “carrot-and-stick” approach
 – Strategies support and reinforce one another, i.e.,
   enforcement actions are complemented by non-
   enforcement actions.
Potential Goal/Action Item Recommendations

 Nine Goals:
 1. Define who is a Costa Mesa Homeless Individual
 2. To protect the health & safety of Costa Mesa residents through
    enforcement of “civility” laws & provide of alternate storage facilities
 3. Institute proactive problem resolution with regard to high crime/vice
    motels which cater to transient population & enforcement of local
    codes & ordinances at problem halfway/sober-living homes
 4. Centralize homeless service coordination
 5. Integrate law enforcement, mental health & legal strategy as a
    coordinated approach to homelessness
 6. Research permanent supportive housing & possible access Center
 7. Review interim housing options
 8. Develop appropriate metrics system to monitor reduction in
 9. Promotion of Lions Park as a local venue for special events
                    Goal 1
Define Who is a Costa Mesa Homeless Individual

A Costa Mesa homeless resident is an individual who, for 18
months immediately prior to the implementation date, has
had strong ties to the community.
These ties include:
– Current residency of an immediate family member
      e.g., parent sibling, grandparent, son/daughter
– Proof that the individual and/or their dependent(s) attend or
  attended a CM K-12 school
– Knowledge (either first hand or recorded) by the CMPD and/or the CM
  Code Enforcement that the individual has been living on Costa Mesa’s
  streets prior to the implementation date
– Other demonstrable ties to the community:
      Qualified service providers such as church ministries, homeless shelters,
      nonprofit, mental health or veterans services

                     Goal 1
 Define Who is a Costa Mesa Homeless Individual

 – Medically Compromised
 – Elderly (60+)
Exclusions – the following individuals may be excluded from
the definition:
 – Residents living in a motel or recovery home
 – Intentionally homeless: A person who has the means to occupy
   reasonable accommodations & refuses to do so, or a person who
   deliberately does or fails to do anything, which would allow them to
   occupy or continue to occupy such reasonable accommodations

HTF RECOMMENDATION: Adopt definition as presented -
revisit definition after 1 yr
                       GOAL 2
Protect the Health & Safety of CM Residents Through
          Enforcement of “Civility” Laws &
      Provision of Alternate Storage Facilities

 Reduce homelessness in CM via coordinated actions to create
 policies that will lead to a reduction in homelessness & an
 increase in the City’s quality of life

 Establish ordinances that create:
 – The means by which the City can enforce desired outcomes

                         Goal 2a
                Parking Ordinances (New)

Parking issues result as vehicles park for long periods of time
in City parks which results in vehicle owner/occupant using
the space for lodging purposes & possibly preventing
residents from parking in order to recreate in City parks

– No overnight parking in parks except by permit

                       Goal 2b
              Camping Ordinance (Existing)

Anti-camping/lodging ordinances are not necessarily unlawful

 Best Practices suggests to avoid allegations of civil rights
violations, an alternate location should be provided so that an
individual’s ability to sleep is unabridged

– Enforce anti-camping & lodging ordinances as part of a legal strategy
  connected to actions that link homeless housing
– Ensure park is closed at night

                      Goal 2c
    Storage Ordinance & Alternative Storage Site
Best Practices suggests enforcement of personal property
storage ordinances are best defended from litigation when
alternate storage sites are provided so personal property can
be reasonably stored & retrieved

HCD staff & Church Consortium have met regarding the
utilization of church property for this purpose

– Update & enforce existing personal property storage ordinances & if
  possible, partner with faith-based/nonprofit organizations to provide
  accessible & secure locations for homeless to store & retrieve personal
  property; provide grace period (e.g., 1 mo) before implementing
      Update: Churches Consortium providing storage at The Crossing

                        Goal 2d
             Food Sharing Ordinances (New)

Restricting individuals from feeding the homeless is an action
that has been subject to lawsuits but also prevents an activity
which manifests a difficult environment for tackling the root
issues of homelessness
Legal counsel is reviewing food sharing ordinances in effect in
other jurisdictions
Effective enforcement of food sharing ordinances may
depend on other “positive” actions by City

– Research ordinances limiting food sharing programs in City parks &
  other public locations with permits issued only for advocates who
  have been through outreach training
                       Goal 2e
         Prohibition on Smoking Ordinances

CM Youth Sports Council proposed a smoking ban ordinance
for City-owned athletic facilities
CM Parks & Recreation Commission recommended expanding
proposed smoking ban to include:
– All City-owned buildings, facilities & motor vehicles
– Areas within fenced areas (including parking lots if not within the
  fenced areas) of City owned sports fields
– City owned community gardens
– Within 50 ft of any City park (parking lots included in park boundaries)

– HTF recommended supporting ordinance
      Update: Ordinance approved by City Council in Fall 2011

                   Goal 2f
     Ban Sex Offenders in Park Ordinance

The City Attorney is researching the feasibility of an ordinance
to exclude registered sex offenders from city parks & youth
sports fields owned/operated by the City
Potentially constitutional rights issues
The City Attorney is preparing a legal analysis for Council to
evaluate whether to adopt such a restriction

– That the City Council adopt an ordinance banning registered sex
  offenders from City owned parks & recreation facilities
      Update: Analysis & research for ordinance is already underway

                         Goal 2g
                Bike Rack Ordinance (New)

New ordinance not previously discussed by Task Force
Ordinance to control abandoned bikes supported by CMPD
To be discussed with Council to obtain additional direction

– None at this time, although there is general support
      Update: Staff working on Bike Rack Ordinance as well as identifying
      funding for additional bike racks

                         Goal 3
Institute Proactive Problem Resolution with regard to High
  Crime/Vice Motels Catering to Transient Population &
   Enforcement of Local Codes & Ordinances at Problem
               Halfway/Sober-Living Homes

One cause for influx of homeless to CM is a proliferation of
motels & halfway houses
Law enforcement agencies from other jurisdictions (Probation
& Parole) utilize these motels & halfway homes for clients
Actions should also focus on better regulation of these
establishments & removal/enforcement of nuisance

                   Goal 3a
  Review Halfway/Sober Living Homes Planning

Staff plans to work with City Attorney ‘s office to better
understand how these organizations are regulated. This will
allow City to evaluate how individual operations fit into
existing code and other regulations

 – That staff explore changes to current building codes that could reduce
   or mitigate impact of half way/sober living homes on residential &
   business neighborhoods
       Update: This action will be incorporated into an interdepartmental
       “Quality of Life” task force

                   Goal 3b
      Partner with Parole and Probation
Parole and Probation Agents have suggested that City join
them in joint inspections to ensure that individuals living in
recovery homes are not residing in conditions which would be
in violation of their parole

HTF Recommendation:
– Recommend that City staff pursue a partnership with probation and
  parole personnel to proactively inspect recovery/halfway homes to
  ensure code compliance.
     Update: This action will be incorporated into an interdepartmental
     “Quality of Life” task force

                    Goal 3c
 Coordinate Halfway/Sober Living Homes Church
               Outreach Ministry

Based on discussions with service providers, many
motel/halfway house residents leave housing without a
support system & some slip into homelessness
City staff has asked the Church Consortium to develop an
outreach program for individuals living in motels/halfway
houses to help support their transition into permanent
housing vs living on the streets
The Church Consortium is currently working on this ministry

– Recommend support for Church Consortium halfway houses/sober
  living homes outreach program

                    Goal 3d
        Reactivate the Motel Task Force

Based on input from CMPD, some Costa Mesa motels tend to
attract at-risk & homeless populations
A Motel Task Force was created in 1997 to address problems
@ CM motels, but since then has been decommissioned

– Reactivate the Motel Task Force
      Update: This action will be incorporated into an interdepartmental
      “Quality of Life” task force

                       Goal 4
      Centralized Homeless Services Coordination
Homeless issues impact outside jurisdictions & entities
Best practices suggests 1 dept be responsible for coordination of
homeless services & complaints
This department should be responsible for:
– Coordinating in-house & outside efforts
– Addressing homeless complaints by coordinating responses with
  CMPD, City Attorney, other City departments & outside agencies
– Evaluating new techniques for addressing homeless issues
– Implementing Homeless Task Force strategies/recommendations
Homeless issues coordination is currently being managed by
HCD in conjunction with CEO, CMPD, Recreation & other City
departments as needed

– Continue centralized homeless services coordination through the
  Housing & Community Development Division                          27
                     Goal 4b
       Create Working Group to Monitor HTF
               Implementation Plan

The HTF has developed an implementation plan which will
involve coordinating services as well as researching funding
sources, developing programs, etc.
A smaller HTF could continue to operate to monitor plan
implementation & report to the City Council

– Create a working group to monitor implementation of HTF priorities &
  action plan

                       Goal 5
      Integrate Law Enforcement, Mental Health &
      Legal Strategy as a Collaborative Approach to

Best practices suggests that the enforcement of codes &
policies may require a new approach that includes a
“homeless-specific” policy/legal strategy
The City should consider adopting a collaborative approach to
law enforcement that includes arresting chronic offenders &
criminals while working with the City Attorney, CMPD &
mental health outreach workers to help move the homeless
off the streets

                  Goal 5a
     Create Homeless Enforcement Team

Cities that have success with homeless issues usually have
officers trained in homeless specific solutions
– Defusing potentially volatile situations
– Assisting patrol officers in assessing a homeless person’s need for
  mental health services as an alternative to incarceration

As the 1st responders to homeless calls for service, a homeless
officer can free up officers to return to patrol duty

Homeless outreach officers build rapport with homeless
which helps assess long-term needs of the chronic homeless

Equally important - public safety is CMPD’s 1st responsibility &
arrest by the homeless officer is not ruled out as warranted
                 Goal 5a
     Create Homeless Enforcement Team
A homeless outreach officer would work closely with the
police department, the CEO’s office & mental health
Even though Lions Park is presently the center of the City’s
homeless issues the homeless outreach officer would have
responsibility for homeless enforcement issues Citywide

– That the City explore the deployment of a “Homeless Outreach
      Update: Current CMPD re-organization includes concentrated
      enforcement in this area

                          Goal 5b
                     Hire Park Rangers

A short-term measure to address homeless-related issues in
Lions Park
Park Rangers could be assigned to:
 – Patrol park
 – Enforce current ordinances
 – Provide support for the CMPD

– Hire 4 Park Rangers to be posted on-site at various Costa Mesa parks
  including Lions, Wilson & Canyon parks
      Update: To date 4 Park Rangers have been hired; 2 permanently stationed
      @ Lions Park

                  Goal 5c
  Coordinate Mental Health/Street Outreach
Presently service providers visit CM libraries & parks weekly
– E.g., OC Mental Health, Veterans 1st, VA
CMPD calls these agencies for assistance as needed
Service providers often need multiple encounters to build
trust & assess needs of homeless to remove from streets
The City may be able to expedite trust-building process by
funding a PT street outreach team/worker
This service can support CMPD with mental health resources
& also help move homeless individuals off streets
– Recommend that staff explore contract opportunities with qualified
  providers to coordinate mental health & street outreach services for
  Costa Mesa homeless residents
      Update: Preliminarily in process
                       Goal 5d
        Formalize Legal Assistance to Prosecute
                   Chronic Violators
Develop a multi-faceted legal strategy that involves a stronger
presence in court when chronic offenders appear before a
City Attorney’s Office will prosecute municipal code violations
for repeat offenders & will communicate with DA’s office
regarding specific cases of interest
This approach could result in the ability to remove people
from the community who commit repeated offenses & who
refuse assistance
Also provides the City with an opportunity to work closely
with DA to track Homeless Court referrals

– Formalize support for this current legal strategy
                    Goal 5e
   Provide Emergency Motel Vouchers for CMPD

CMPD occasionally encounter situations that require rapid,
temporary placement of vulnerable individuals/families into
safe/decent housing
CMPD should have a supply of vouchers for emergency
situations especially for families with children found sleeping
in the street

– That staff identify resources to provide CMPD with motel vouchers for
  emergency situations & help develop criteria for the use of vouchers

                     Goal 6
   Research Permanent Supportive Housing &
Possible Access Center for CM Homeless Residents
Best practices suggest the availability of supportive housing & a
daytime facility where homeless may congregate helps reduce
impact of the homeless on neighborhoods & local businesses
Some members of the HTF have suggested exploring the concept of
an access center & purchase of an existing motel for use as
transitional/supportive housing
Facility location must ensure impacts to surrounding
neighborhoods are mitigated
These facilities would only be accessed by CM homeless based on
the definition conceived by the HTF

– Have staff explore the possibility of financing strategies for the
  development of supportive housing/access center utilizing existing HOME,
  RDA & other funding sources such as HUD continuum of care grant
  financing & outside faith-based & nonprofit partners (in conjunction with
  adopted definition of a “Costa Mesa Homeless Resident”)                   36
                         Goal 7
             Review Interim Housing Options
There are few emergency shelter beds in OC that also serve as
an entry point to system of care for homeless
Cold Weather Shelter Program (Armories in SA & Fullerton)
open only during Nov-Mar
If anti-camping ordinance is enacted, best practices suggests
alternate sleeping location should be provided
CM’s homeless strategy suggests development of permanent
supportive housing (long-term goal); interim housing program
may be needed to deflect criticism of anti-camping ban

– Explore implementation of a Motel Vouchers for Costa Mesa homeless
      Note: Includes exploring the targeting of Shelter Plus Care Vouchers for Costa
      Mesa homeless residents
– Work with County to explore ways to keep Armories open longer

                      Goal 8
        Develop a Metrics System to Monitor
            Reduction in Homelessness
Best practices suggests a homeless strategy should measure
impact of actions on the homeless
CM should develop appropriate metrics system to measure
success or failures of its homeless strategy including a
reduction in homelessness

– Develop analytical tool to measure homeless reduction resulting from
  implementation of the City’s homeless strategy

                      Goal 9
  Promote Lions Park as a Local Venue for Special
Events & Change in Facilities to More Creative Usage
 Lions Park is in downtown CM near transportation node &
 neighborhood shopping
 Community centers are used for an array of classes & services
 Lions Park contains passive & active recreational facilities &
 there are plans to transform it into a vital recreational center
 The City should explore utilizing Lions Park for more dynamic
 event programming

 – Remove picnic shelter & integrate new recreational
 – Identify special event programming opportunities for Lions Park
       Update: Original funding (RDA) for improvements is no longer available;
       staff will need to research alternate funding sources


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