Dunn Housing/Homelessness Q3
Cities are required to identify sites for homeless shelters by law. Builders must have full “by-right” authority to build, with ministerial approvals only. Homelessness is not a crime. If sufficient housing is not produced, cities will not be permitted to enforce local “no-camping” ordinances and tent cities may develop in local parks and public open spaces.
The private sector can step up and help with major gifts to organizations like non-profit Orange County Housing Trust—matching Disneyland Resort’s $5 million gift for affordable and permanent supportive housing–supported by both OCBC and NeighborWorksOC. Affordable projects are very expensive to build and need many layers of both public and private dollars, as well as tax credits. There are projects for OC ready to go, waiting for help from us.
State and federal funding is important to financing packages but these funds are highly competitive and the need is far greater than the amounts offered; government must look carefully at all the “strings attached” to these funds–allow for local flexibility in use, and stop creating “little pots” of money for specific categories without flexibility. Mental health dollars are vast, but without allowance to build shelter, the monies may not be delivered for services–a place is needed to deliver services before services can be delivered. “Housing first” is still true. Cities and counties have a hard job educating a wary public, but they must keep trying, and then, when all else fails, do the right thing, follow the law: plan and approve these projects more efficiently.
Finally, cities and county, to their credit, have formed their own non-profit Orange County Housing Finance Trust to take public and private dollars, work together and fund those projects ready to go to end homelessness. We all must support them in their efforts and encourage them to deliver on the promise as soon as possible.