Anaheim has met its obligation under a federal court settlement to provide a minimum of 325 permanent homeless shelter beds, staff informed the city council at its March 5 meeting. Under the terms of the settlement, the city was not free to enforce laws against camping and storing property in public parks and other city-owned spaces until it could meet that minimum bed obligation.
The city had actually met that threshold when it opened the 200-bed temporary emergency shelter on State College Boulevard this past December 20. A partnership between the city and local businesses, led by Anaheim businessman Bill Taormina under the auspices of Visit Anaheim Cares, was able to open the shelter in a whirlwind 14 days. The plan was for the shelter to operate until March 15, by which time it was assumed two interim city shelters would be opened. The shelter has been operated by the Illumination Foundation.
The plan worked out.
A 224- emergency bed, city shelter on Lewis Street near Cerritos Avenue was dedicated on January 31. It is operated by The Salvation Army and as of February 27, it was home to 141 homeless individuals, to whom full wrap-around services are being provided.
At the end of 2018, the city purchased the Piano Empire store across the street from the county’s Bridges at Kraemer Shelter, with the intention of converting it into the 102-bed La Mesa homeless shelter for men, women, couples and families, with full wrap-around services. The Piano Store was converted into the La Mesa shelter in 47 days, and began accepting it first clients last week – primarily from the State College Shelter. The last homeless individual was transferred from the State College shelter on March 5 – 10 days ahead of schedule.
The State College shelter had provided approximately 9,500 bed nights and over 28,500 individual meals to the homeless as of February 15, according to the city. Bringing the State College shelter online allowed the city to clear the large homeless encampments from Maxwell, Twila Reid and La Palma parks, much to the relief of residents. Maxwell Park, in particular, had become unusable, and the homeless had taken to permanently camping on the sidewalks in front of the park and the Haskett Library, as well as in front of a local nursery and adjacent to homes.
According to city staff, Anaheim will gain savings on its contract with the Illumination Foundation due to a direct $50,000 direct contribution by the Disneyland Resort to the foundation. Furthermore, the furnishings from the 200-bed State College shelter will be used at the La Mesa shelter. That and the ahead-of-schedule closure of the State College shelter will generate $68,000 in
daily bed-rate savings.