Newport Beach Mayor Calls Homeless Shelter ‘Phenomenally Expensive,’ but Necessary 

February 12, 2021 Updated: February 14, 2021

Newport Beach is finalizing a deal with Costa Mesa for 29 beds in a homeless shelter that will cost the city $2.6 million for the first year, and $1 million each following year.

“It’s phenomenally expensive, and something we have to do,” Newport Beach Mayor Brad Avery said during a Feb. 10 public Zoom meeting. “I say to people, what is the alternative? … This [managing homelessness] is our mission the next 10 years.”

Newport Beach city council entered a five-year agreement last Nov. 24 to contribute $1.6 million for construction of the shelter, and an additional $1 million annually for operating costs. Two optional five-year extensions are included in the agreement.

Newport Beach will gain access to 29 of the 70 beds at the shelter, located at an existing industrial warehouse on Airway Avenue in Costa Mesa, near John Wayne Airport.

“[The] Costa Mesa shelter was a big win for us,” Avery said. “We’re very appreciative of Costa Mesa for joining with us, for having us join them for the 20 beds, but this is just the start.”

The shelter cost Costa Mesa nearly $7 million to develop, and an additional estimated $4.5 million for further construction and equipment.

Hoag Hospital is funding the shelter’s services at $300,000 a year for 10 years.

“It’s expensive … it’s an important part of the future solution, or at least management, of our homeless situation,” Avery said.

Features of the building include a full-service kitchen, living quarters, an office, and a lobby.

The shelter will be operated by the nonprofit Mercy House, and offer holistic services, such as mental health and employment assistance to help people find permanent housing.

“What we’re doing is humane, is the right thing to do to take care of people who are in this situation,” Avery said.

The Costa Mesa shelter will be a temporary spot for the homeless. Avery said the city needs to work on building a more permanent facility.

“Ultimately, the goal is we need to build … a permanent home facility for people who are experiencing homelessness, and maybe, eventually, more of them,” he said.

“Ultimately, we need to provide permanent supportive housing for these individuals … all of Orange County. All the cities need to partner in this, and maybe two cities go in on a permanent supportive housing facility. … That’s the real solution to this, and it’s going to be really expensive, and there’s a number of [nongovernmental organizations] that this is what they do. And so we have to partner with them. And we still need to partner with our houses of worship.”

The shelter is under construction and is expected to open in April.