Newsom Grants $3.6 Million to Address Costa Mesa Homeless Encampment

Newsom Grants $3.6 Million to Address Costa Mesa Homeless Encampment
A homeless man sits on the sidewalk at a bus station in Costa Mesa, Calif., on Oct. 26, 2020. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)
Vanessa Serna
COSTA MESA, Calif.—Gov. Gavin Newsom allocated $3.6 million to Orange County on Feb. 24 to tackle a homeless encampment in a Costa Mesa park.

Talbert Park has an encampment with about 130 homeless individuals, according to county Supervisor Lisa Bartlett. The allocated funds aim to clear the encampments and connect the homeless population with shelters and behavioral health services.

While there’s a need to serve all 130 individuals, the governor’s office anticipates the grant can serve only about 60 homeless individuals.

However, Bartlett anticipates that the funds will be a stepping stone to getting the whole homeless population connected with the services they need before eventually being able to connect to housing options.

“Not all of them can go right into the housing options immediately, but we want to get them into the system of care, get them connected to services,” Bartlett told The Epoch Times.

As the county works out the specifics on how they will address the homeless issue in Talbert Park, a homeless outreach coordinator in Anaheim emphasized the need for the county to engage with each individual to determine their needs rather than simply focusing on getting them housing.

“There’s not a one-size-fits-all to this problem,” Zach Southall, founder of Charity on Wheels, told The Epoch Times.

Southall, running an organization to get the homeless back on their feet, has successfully helped one homeless individual per month become a functional member of society by providing them with the direction they need to find services, hold down a job, and pay their own rent.

While he said the number of homeless he helps is not many, he said his ability to restore homeless individuals back into society is just as efficient as getting 200 people off the street and into housing when most of them are back on the street within a few months.

While shelters may be on the list of solutions to alleviate the homeless crisis, Southall said that some homeless people are deterred from staying in them due to safety concerns.

“Some individuals would rather stay in a tent because they want their freedom but also because they are scared of the people in there, or they’re scared of being around drugs when they’re trying to get off of them,” Southall said.

He advised the county to follow the method of assessing the homeless by their ability to work and what specific care they need.

Oftentimes, without assessment, the answer to alleviating homelessness is ignored as some officials think that providing housing is enough, Southall said.

He said that while some shelters need work, some are run better than others.

The funds allocated to Orange County are a part of the state’s $50 million plan to rehouse unsheltered homeless individuals in encampments. On Thursday, 19 cities and counties were awarded grant funds to address a portion of encampments in their local areas.

It’s unclear when the county will receive the funds.

Vanessa Serna is a California-based daily news reporter for The Epoch Times.
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