UPDATED 03/10/15 6:00 PM
A discussion at the Orange County Board
of Supervisors of plans for the county’s first year-round homeless shelter is postponed for Mar. 24.
Read the original version of this post below.
ORIGINAL POST 03/10/15 6:00 AM
Orange County Supervisors could opt to privatize operations of the county’s long awaited, year-round homeless shelter, as plans for the facility finally move forward after years of political football and delays.
A menu of development and funding options for the proposed shelter, in the form of a 50-page report, will come before the board at Tuesday’s meeting, the amended version of a report originally presented to supervisors in 2013.
Tuesday will be the first time the shelter issue comes before the board’s three new supervisors, after a previous board voted last November to reject a Santa Ana project site that was heavily opposed by neighborhood residents, in favor of pushing for a shuttered bus terminal site adjacent to the Hall of Administration.
The proposals call for a 200-bed shelter with a multi-service center, as well as on- or off-site affordable and supportive housing units, according to the report.
Excluding the additional housing units, operating a 200-bed shelter and multi-service center would cost $2.6 million a year, or $32 per shelter resident a day. That estimate doesn’t include rent or leasing costs, and includes security services, 2 meals a day for shelter residents only, on-site laundry, case management and limited access to transportation.
Orange County is among one of the most populous counties in America with no year-round shelter, according to advocates, who have been pushing for a shelter to be built for several years.
Several hundred homeless live at a makeshift encampment outside the county’s Civic Center, a population which some advocates believe is growing due in part to the transfer of state prisoners to local control as part of Gov. Jerry Brown’s prison realignment program.
Supervisors will also need to decide whether the shelter and service center should be operated by the county or a private, non-profit vendor.
A totally government-initiated development, in which the county would find, purchase and develop a site, was the approach taken with previous attempts to secure shelter sites in Fullerton and Santa Ana.
A second approach, which has been recommended by the county’s Commission to End Homelessness, is a public-private partnership, where the county would select a private developer through a public bidding process, and allow that developer to select a property and take the lead on development and construction.
A third approach would also select a private developer through a public bidding process, but allow the shelter operator to purchase and own the entire property.
The county does have 400 shelter beds that are available on a seasonal basis, part of a program that operates out of two National Guard Armories in Fullerton and Santa Ana, although the facility is only open from December through April for the limited hours of 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.
The non-profit group Mercy House that currently operates the Armory programs is also up for a contract renewal Tuesday, this time with the understanding that a year-round shelter will be complete by the time the contract is up, according to a staff report.
Mercy House is also working with the city of Santa Ana in the development of a check-in center, where homeless individuals can store their belongings, charge electronics and receive other basic services.
The full report — which includes more details on cost and potential funding sources for the proposed shelter — is available on the county website.