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(Editors Note: Blake Waddell is a student journalist at Chapman University participating in the Voice of OC Youth Media program.)
Brea’s city council members are turning down state funding to combat homelessness, saying their current approach works for the city’s small homeless population.
Last month, City Manager Ben Gallardo said Brea would not compete for part of a one-time $250 million fund to address immediate challenges of homelessness.
The funds come from California’s Homeless Emergency Assistance program and will be allocated based on the 2017 homeless point in time count.
In an email, Gallardo said that Brea already has a strong outreach program which consists of “three specially trained Homeless Liaison Police Officers, a mental health clinician from OC Health Services, a City Human Services professional from and a dedicated group of volunteers.”
The city’s Homelessness Task Force visits the approximately 24 homeless in Brea on a weekly basis, offering services and supplies to those in need, and those who desire them, Gallardo said.
“For those people who are not ready, we continue to talk with them, working to make connections – hoping that there will be a time when they are ready to hear us, and ready to accept our help.” Gallardo said. “Ultimately, our goal is to find a long-term, compassionate solution for these individuals – and we have had some successes.”
Despite not accepting these funds, Gallardo said Brea has had successes in helping it’s homeless, offering medical services and shelters to it’s homeless population.
As part of the North Service Planning Area for homelessness help, Brea is working to provide additional beds for the regional homeless under direction of Judge David Carter, Gallardo said.
Homelessness is less of a problem for Brea than it is for other surrounding cities. Compared to the approximately 24 homeless in Brea, Orange has about 675 homeless, and Santa Ana has a total of 1,617 homeless according to city reports. Brea is still working to do its part for the regional community, however, Gallardo said.
“We are not avoiding the issue, or trying to pass it off to another community,” Gallardo said.