Anaheim to Expand Salvation Army Homeless Shelter

SPENCER CUSTODIO, Voice of OC

A homeless camp on the Union Pacific railroad in near Cerritos Avenue and Anaheim Boulevard in Anaheim on April 10, 2019.

Anaheim City Councilmembers have unanimously approved adding another 100 beds to the Salvation Army’s 200-bed homeless shelter, near the Honda Center, so the city can continue enforcing its anti-camping laws. 

“Unless we add more shelter beds, we will be unable to enforce anti-camping laws,” said Mayor Harry Sidhu, reading from a prepared statement Tuesday as the council took up the issue.  

“To me, the choice is very clear. Expanding our partnership with the Salvation Army is another way forward,” Sidhu said. 

All of the current homeless shelters are in District 5, in the Angel Stadium and Honda Center area. Councilman Steven Faessel represents the District. 

“I’ve stated in the past that District 5 has done about as much or more than any other district than Anaheim to accommodate shelter beds … and I’m hoping that other districts in the city will step forward and accept more shelter beds,” Faessel said. “I think our ability in protecting our anti-camping laws is the most important, not just for residents in District 5, but everyone in Anaheim.” 

A 2018 ruling by the Ninth District Court of Appeals mandates homeless people can’t be ticketed or jailed for sleeping on public property unless there are enough shelter beds for them. The case was appealed to the Supreme Court, but the nation’s highest court let the decision stand when it declined to hear the matter last December. 

Councilman Jordan Brandman originally requested the 100 beds in District 2, which he represents.

But Tuesday’s proposal was between the Illumination Foundation’s plan for a West Anaheim shelter of up to 200 beds in District 1 that would’ve opened in September or expanding the current Salvation Army homeless shelter. 

The Illumination Foundation also runs a shelter in Anaheim after it opened its 102-bed La Mesa shelter early last year. 

Meanwhile, Councilwoman Denise Barnes said the city also needs to start looking ahead for homeless people after they’re in the shelters. 

She was able to schedule a future agenda item to convert motels in each council district to transitional and permanent supportive housing. That type of housing has medical and mental health services, social services and job placement programs for homeless people shifting out of shelters and into housing. 

“I would like to make a motion that instead of emergency shelters we put out an RFP (request for proposal) for motel conversions citywide,” Barnes said. “To cycle people out of the shelters.” 

Spencer Custodio is a Voice of OC staff reporter. You can reach him at scustodio@voiceofoc.org. Follow him on Twitter @SpencerCustodio