Orange County’s homelessness crisis is actually a product of California’s soaring economy. When jobs are added to the economy faster than houses are added to the market, property values become inflated, mortgage and rent expenses increase, and so do foreclosures and evictions. The state’s economy has surpassed all but five nations’ in size. Unemployment in the state hit a record low. Orange County’s housing market is not keeping pace with demand. As rents increase, tents increase.
The cost of homelessness in Orange County is nearly $300 million annually, and $120 million of this burden falls on local cities. For all of California’s growth, Orange County is returned six cents of every dollar in property taxes that it sends to Sacramento. Homelessness, and homeless deaths, have not seen any decline in Orange County, despite regional efforts.
“Where There’s Will, There’s a Way,” an Orange County Grand Jury report released on May 31, 2018, recommends a plan to address the housing and homelessness crisis: “To streamline shelter and Permanent Supportive Housing development, the County and its cities should establish a decision-making body, such as a Joint Powers Authority, that is empowered to identify and allocate sites and pool funding associated with housing and supportive services for the homeless.”
Orange County’s entire delegation of state representatives agree with the Grand Jury. On the same day of the report’s release, Assembly Bill 448 was introduced, with Assemblymembers Daly (D) and Quirk-Silva (D), and Senators Bates (R), Moorlach (R), and Nguyen (R) as co-authors or sponsors. As the Grand Jury recommends, this bill would: “create and operate a joint powers agency to fund housing to assist the homeless population and persons and families of extremely low, very low, and low income… create and operate a joint powers agency to fund housing to assist the homeless population and persons and families of extremely low, very low, and low income.”
As Assemblymember Daly explains, the bill would “allow Orange County cities, the County of Orange, local businesses and philanthropists to pool their resources” in the Orange County Housing Trust Fund, and leverage these local dollars for increased state funding. This would finance construction of 2,700 permanent supportive housing units proposed by the Association of California Cities, Orange County.
By leveraging more local dollars to compete for more state funding, Orange County will raise the investment that it needs to address its homelessness crisis.
To send a letter of support, request a template letter, or inquire about this legislation, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mohammed Aly is a lawyer and executive director of Orange County Poverty Alleviation Coalition.
Opinions expressed in editorials belong to the authors and not Voice of OC.
Voice of OC is interested in hearing different perspectives and voices. If you want to weigh in on this issue or others please contact Voice of OC Involvement Editor Theresa Sears at TSears@voiceofoc.org