Politics

Anaheim clears the way for a permanent, year-round homeless shelter in Orange County

Volunteer Philip Armstrong, right, works with Kenneth Reynolds during a weekly outreach assessment put on by the Coast to Coast Foundation in partnership with the Fullerton Police Department on Thursday, March 5, 2015 at Pacific Drive Park.
Volunteer Philip Armstrong, right, works with Kenneth Reynolds during a weekly outreach assessment put on by the Coast to Coast Foundation in partnership with the Fullerton Police Department on Thursday, March 5, 2015 at Pacific Drive Park.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC

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A year-round emergency shelter for homeless people in Orange County cleared a hurdle Tuesday after city officials from Anaheim and Fullerton threw their support behind the project.  

The Anaheim City Council on Tuesday voted to back the proposed 200-bed homeless shelter site at 1000 N. Kraemer Place. Fullerton city council members also passed a similar resolution.

“We need a permanent solution and we need a quality facility,” said Anaheim City Council Member Kris Murray.

Opposition from community members has stymied previous plans to build a shelter in Fullerton, Santa Ana and at a different location in Anaheim.  

Murray said it’s been difficult finding a place within the county that is big enough and is accessible via bus for the homeless.

“This has taken quite some time to get to this point,” she said. “We can’t just continue to push the issue in hopes that some perfect scenario is going to materialize.”

The proposed shelter would replace at least one of the county’s seasonal shelters that operate overnight at the National Guard Armories in Fullerton and Santa Ana. They both close for the summer on April 15th.

The year-round, multi-service center, as government officials have called it, would be in an industrial part of the city where mostly warehouse businesses are located. The county hasn't decided what homeless services provider will run the shelter.

But Steve Napolitano, president of the Bottle Logic Brewing company located about a block away from the proposed site, told the Anaheim city council the area is mischaracterized as simply a row of warehouses. There's a gym and playhouse that stay open late at night.

He said the brewery employs a few young women who work the tasting room and have been harassed and grabbed by transients.

 “We’re concerned about some of the incidents of aggressive and criminal behavior that has happened on our block,” he said.

Another a business owner joined Napolitano in expressing concern but they were in the minority.

Homeless advocates filled the council chambers Tuesday urging the city to give county officials assurance that Anaheim would not stand in the way of any rezoning or permitting clearances the county would need to build and operate the shelter.

Two years ago, when Orange County officials first set eyes on a proposed shelter site in Fullerton, the county budgeted $3.2 million, according to Supervisor Todd Spitzer. The county is about a million dollars short with the new proposed site in Anaheim.

There were no specific commitments Tuesday for how much money the city of Anaheim would pitch in to pay for the shelter but Murray said there are talks about splitting the remaining tab with the city of Fullerton, which also passed a resolution Tuesday to support the shelter location.

County real estate staff is expected to report back to Orange County Board of Supervisor on April 14th on next steps for purchasing the warehouse.