10/24/16 – Homelessness in Orange County

The issue of homelessness is on the front burner in Orange County.

  • The 2015 annual estimate for the non-duplicated number of homeless people in Orange County was 15,291 persons. (2015 Orange County PIT).
  • Family homelessness is the fastest growing segment of the homeless population nationwide. According to the 2015 Point-in-Time count in Orange County, 31% of homeless adults reported having children under the age of 18 (2015 Orange County PIT)

The Orange County Board of Supervisors has made attacking homelessness a high priority for our county and has hired a new point person to coordinate efforts within the county.

Substantial efforts to create new resources have been initiated. Earlier this year Santa Ana opened 71 new permanent housing units in a former motel and the county approved a new innovative project in north county that will utilize shipping containers as studio homes for homeless veterans. The county has also approved a new site for a 200-person homeless shelter in Anaheim and has converted the old Transit Center in Santa Ana into a 300 bed shelter that opened this month. However, even with this increased level of effort and creation of new resources the experts acknowledge that we will still be challenged to adequately serve individuals and families experiencing homelessness. These individuals and families are going to continue to look to their local family resource center for assistance.

In light of this and in response to requests from family resource center staff, FaCT recently held a training to provide the most up to date information about our county’s new approach to providing support to homeless individuals and families.

Some of the most important information shared by our panel of experts include:

Federal Definition of Homelessness – The federal government has refined the definition of homelessness for eligibility for federally funded programs. What many of us have perceived as “homelessness” does not fall within the new federal definition. Please refer to this document to gain an understanding of the new definition.

Housing First is the new philosophical approach to ending homelessness – Housing First is a homeless assistance approach that prioritizes providing people experiencing homelessness with permanent housing as quickly as possible – and then providing voluntary supportive services as needed. This approach prioritizes client choice in both housing selection and in service participation.

Rapid Rehousing is a federal strategy being employed to implement the Housing First philosophy – Rapid re-housing is an intervention designed to help individuals and families to quickly exit homelessness and return to permanent housing. Rapid re-housing assistance is offered without preconditions (such as employment, income, absence of criminal record, or sobriety) and the resources and services provided are typically tailored to the unique needs of the household.

Coordinated Entry is the new approach for accessing services for homeless individuals and families. All homeless providers are linked into a central system operated by 211OC that is designed to assess and assign resources to needy individuals in the most effective and efficient manner possible. Individuals in need of housing must use one of the 22 current access points to obtain assistance through the system. Those access points are:

Health Care Agency, Mercy House, City of Costa Mesa, Friendship Shelter, Illumination Foundation, Colette’s Children’s Home, Family Assistance Ministries, CityNet, South County Outreach, VA Community Resource & Referral Center, 2-1-1 Helpline, American Family Housing, Families Forward, Coast to Coast, First Light Foundation International, Pathways of Hope, Orange County Department of Education – McKinney Vento Liaisons Pilot Project, Capistrano Unified Anaheim Union HSD, Westminster Unified, Santa Ana USD.

For more information on coordinated entry please send an email to [email protected] or call the Collaborative Engagement Department at 714-589-2358.

Family Resource Centers can improve their client’s access to services through the network by forming relationships with the access points in their geographic area and by acting as a continuing resource to their clients as they go through the process of being evaluated and linked to a service provider.

This link will provide you with the opportunity to review all of the presentations that were made at the housing training. They contain a wealth of valuable information and statistics related to housing services in Orange County.

The need is great and is growing, but our network can play a valuable role in linking individuals and families in need with a system of services designed to solve their issue of homelessness.

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