Earlier this month, the Anaheim City Council approved an agreement augmenting its partnership with the Salvation Army to increase the city’s inventory of homeless shelter beds – allowing the city to continue enforcing ordinances against camping and storing personal property on public facilities like city parks.
Under the agreement, the Salvation Army will add another 100 beds to its existing 200-bed Anaheim Emergency Shelter by June of this year. The agreement is for two years with the option of up to two 1-year renewals, at an annual not-to-exceed amount of $1.73 million.
The ability of cities in the western U.S. to keep transients from campaign in parks, sidewalks and other public spaces is handicapped by the 9th Circuit Court decision known as Boise v. Martin. Under this decision, local governments must be able to offer a homeless person a shelter bed before removing them from public property. Otherwise, cities are prohibited from enforcing anti-camping ordinances.
Mayor Harry Sidhu noted that Anaheim’s existing shelters are running near capacity, putting at risk the city’s enforcement abilities under the Boise decision.
“Let me be clear about the primary reason we are adding more shelter beds: it is so we can continue enforcing our laws to prevent the return of encampments in our public spaces,” said Sidhu.
“Our existing shelters are running near capacity, and unless we add more shelter beds, we will be unable to enforce anti-camping laws even as we work to connect the homeless to a better life.”
Mayor Sidhu praised the Salvation Army’s work to help the homeless.
“The Salvation Army excels at treating the whole person, and has helped thousands to reclaim their dignity and resume their places as self-reliant, productive individuals,” said the mayor.
Mayor Pro Tem Steve Faessel concurred with Sidhu.
“The most pressing concern before us is can we continue enforcing our anti-camping ordinances currently,” said Faessel, who represents District 5.
“That’s what our residents expect of us, and I hear it all the time. And I believe that is our obligation to them,” Faessel continued.
“Under the Boise decision,” continued Faessel, that ultimately governs how we enforce our anti-camping ordinance, we must have sufficient beds available to offer our homeless population during our outreach and enforcement efforts.”
Faessel also called on other council districts to “step forward and accept more shelter beds.”
Councilman Moreno Disagrees With Prioritizing Anti-Camping Enforcement
While District 3 Councilman Jose F. Moreno supported the Salvation Army agreement, he disagreed with Mayor Sidhu and the council majority that being able to keep city parks clear of encampments should be the top priority.
“We need to do it to help people stabilize their lives that “oh by the way” does help us enforce our laws,” said Moreno.