Construction for the project began in July near John Wayne Airport and is projected to be finished early next year. The facility is scheduled to start operations in March 2021.
“We are ahead of schedule, things are going to plan, and this couldn’t have happened at a better time,” said Susan Price, assistant city manager, during a Nov. 10 virtual Costa Mesa City Council meeting.
Mayor Katrina Foley said the city has applied for such grant money from the county for “many years,” but the funding was never approved until now.
“It’ll be at a critical time when we don’t have any additional extra cushion in our budget, and this will help us to fulfill one of our priorities, which is to build this shelter and to do it correctly,” she said.
The homeless shelter is part of the settlement of a 2018 lawsuit against several cities and the county over the eviction of homeless encampments along the Santa Ana River trail. The settlement requires the cities to provide adequate shelter beds for the majority of the homeless population in their territories before enforcing anti-encampment regulations.
Costa Mesa initially opened a 50-bed temporary bridge shelter in April 2019 at 1885 Anaheim Avenue to address the city’s shelter needs.
The new $4.5 million permanent bridge shelter will be located at 3175 Airway Avenue. It will also use about $2 million in federal grant money to fund the project.
The contract with the county requires the new facility to be used as a 75-bed emergency homeless shelter for at least 10 years, said Price. The Orange County Board of Supervisors must also give final approval before the grant will be allocated to the city.
The decision comes after the City of Huntington Beach opened a 174-bed shelter on Nov. 2 that will provide comprehensive support services to the homeless community.
“This is very critical to our coordination in the [area],” said Price. “Because that will decompress that regional homeless population on the coastal sites.”
In the last couple of years, Santa Ana has added 200 new homeless shelter beds, Tustin added 57 beds, and the county plans to provide up to 425 beds in early 2021 at the Yale Transitional Center in Santa Ana.
Said Costa Mesa Mayor Pro Tem John Stephens, “It’s very, very important in this day and age, where we do have our budget challenges, to be able to do this.”
According to the county’s most recent point-in-time homeless count in 2019, there were just under 200 homeless people residing in Costa Mesa.