Thursday, April 21, 2011

Homeless Task Force On Track

BEAT ME TO THE PUNCH
In an earlier post I, tongue-in-cheek, suggested that I should swing past Lions Park and invite some of the homeless folks that hang out there to the meeting of the Costa Mesa Homeless Task Force last night. Silly me.. that base had already been covered.


HOMELESS IN ATTENDANCE

When I arrived at the Neighborhood Community Center around 5:15 the Adams Room already had a couple dozen visitors, including at least a dozen homeless or former homeless people. Several of them used the opportunity to speak in the Public Comments segment of the program - relating poignant, personal stories of their time as a homeless person and their individual journeys back from that difficult spot in their lives.

AROUND 80 PEOPLE SHOWED UP
I'm not going to try to give you a word-for-word summation of the evening, but will give you my impressions. I was surprised at the size of the crowd last night.
The Task Force members alone accounted for around 25 people. Interested community members and homeless and former homeless folks numbers at least another 50, and included a couple of very interested Newport Beach Police Officers, auditing the activities of our task force.

ARRGGHH!
First, much as it chagrins me to admit it, it looks like the Chairman of the Task Force, PR flack and Daily Pilot columnist Steve Smith, is doing a good job. He managed the meeting with gusto and, along with Facilitator Larry Haynes of Vanguard University and Mercy House, kept the agenda moving right along.

BROWN ACT FOR DUM
MIES
Christian Bettenhausen
, one of our contract attor
neys from Jones & Mayer, gave a brief workshop on the Brown Act as it applies to the Task Force.

CURRENT ACTIVITIES
Murial Ullman, Elena Gerli and Lt. Robert Sharpnack of the CMPD each gave reports on current and ongoing actions regarding community outreach and law enforcement.

THE ENFORCEMENT NUMBERS

Costa Mesa intern Bijan Mazarji provided a 3-year law enforcement overview of the Lions Park area, comparing it to the broader community. Lions Park is located in enforcement area #1, which appeared to be basically zip code 92627. While crime is down in that area for the period of the study, calls for service in the Lions Park area is up. In his PowerPoint presentation Mazarji told us that calls for service in the Lions Park and Vicinity have steadily increased since 2008. Some of that is due to the added emphasis by police command to focus more on that area.

In 2010, 96% of the calls for service in Lions Park were attributed to the chronically homeless, up from 76% in 2008.

2008-1010 the cost of service in the Lions Park Vicinity increased from 3% to 4% of Area 1 costs.

Costa Mesa Fire also showed an increase in calls and costs respondin
g to calls for the chronically homeless.

Those costs - using a formula with assumptions about certain elements - indicated that total police and fire costs for responding to issues with chronically homeless was less than $70,000 for 2010.

HOMELESS PROFILE
Karen Mc
Glinn provided a profile of a "homeless person" - a staggering composite of maladjusted, mistreated and just plain unlucky individuals, many of whom she has come into contact with at SOS.

FAITH-BASED EFFORTS
Becks Heyhoe of The Churches Consortium, Russ Carter of Saddleback Church and Phil Eyskens, the
new pastor of Lighthouse Church, gave presentations of Faith-based perspectives and combating homelessness. Carter may have summed it up best when he observed that the homeless need an advocate - someone to hear their individual stories who can then help then navigate through the various resources available to them.

POLITICIANS NO-SHOWS

I thought it was interesting that sub-committee chairmen Colin McCarthy and Jeff Mathews were no-shows. I suspect McCarthy is much too busy making up polling numbers and throwing red meat to the masses from his perch as President of the Costa Mesa Taxpayer's Association to find time to fulfill his responsibilities to the Task Force. According to another member of his sub-committee, they had not even met since the first Task Force meeting a month ago.

BUSINESS SURVEY
The perky Judi Berry did represent
Mathews' sub-committee, though, with a report of an un-scientific survey she and her team conducted of businesses around the Lions Park/Westside. It was anecdotal, not fact-based, and, while interesting, Chair Smith pushed back, looking for more information. At that point member Cambria Briggs chimed in with the observation that they didn't really need to "study" the homeless problem - we know there is one or they - the Task Force - wouldn't be there. She suggested spending the time and energy on finding solutions, instead.

GOOD LUCK WITH THAT...
The next meeting is scheduled for May 18th in Conference Room 1A at City
Hall. I can tell you that if a third of the people that attended this meeting show up then that conference room will not hold them.

WE KNOW THE PROBLEM

Based on my visit to this meeting and listening to all the interesting testimonies and staff reports, I think Russ Carter and Cambria Briggs may be on the right track. We know we have a "homeless" problem in Costa Mesa. The nature of that problem has been well-chronicled by city staffers and residents, alike. We know that young mothers are afraid to use Lions Park - and probably a few other parks, but those numbers were not available last night. We know all of that. We know each homeless person has an individual story about how they reached this point in their lives and, most likely, it will take an individual, specialized effort to help them out of this situation. We know that.

RESOURCES ARE AVAILABLE
We know that there are fa
ith-based resources available to some of the homeless - testimonies last night told of many successes from those organizations. We know that many of the homeless folks need help finding a job so they can afford housing. Some of them need medical and dental care to facilitate their job searches. We know that.

RE-OPEN THE JOB CENTER

Here's my sug
gestion. I think The City should immediately locate and either lease or buy one of the many vacant buildings in the Westside and re-open the Job Center. The old Job Center served this community well for almost 2 decades and filled a critical need when it was created. Since it was closed the job-seekers have not vanished, they've just gone back to soliciting work at the same old haunts. We need the Job Center back.

CALL IT A
"RESOURCE CENTER"
As part of that Job Center - we'd probably call it a "Resource Center" - which was staffed by city employees to the tune of around $100,000 per year, space should be included for an Homeless Advocate's Office - a place where homeless folks could go to get help navigating through the ma
ze of potential resources available to them via social service agencies and faith-based organizations.

NOT A FLOP HOUSE
I am NOT suggesting we create a flop house, where homeless folks could go to get "three hots and a cot". That kind of assistance already exists within the faith-based community. I'm also not suggesting we create a "magnet" for homeless folks. Let's face it - we already ARE a magnet for homeless folks or we wouldn't be having this discussion. The problem now is how to manage this situation.

LET THE FROTHING BEGIN
I recognize that my suggestion will cause many of the readers here to become apoplectic and some of you will rant about it not being the City's job to find work for people. Some quotes form Ebenezer Scrooge come to mind. However, the fact is that the Job Center worked and the additional fact is that we have a very serious problem of homelessness in our city. It is a public safety issue, for the homeless and other residents of our city. By creating this new center, including staffing with an advocate, immediate progress could be made to concentrate the job seekers at a venue where they could be matched with employers looking for casual labor and we would make an immediate impact on the homeless population of our city in a positive way - a good thing for us all.

NOW'S THE TIME, BUDGET-WISE

I know some will screech
that we "can't afford" to do what I suggest. Well, we're in the midst of preparing our 2011-2012 municipal budget, so now's the time to think about it seriously. Probable reductions in the cost of calls for service in the Lions Park area alone will make this idea worth considering now. And, since our good friends in Newport Beach already recognize our problem - and since many of the users of the former Job Center were businesses and homeowners from Newport Beach - perhaps they might be willing to participate in some small way in the creation and staffing of the new Resource Center. It can't hurt to ask.

TIME FOR ACTION
We can have the Homeless Task Force continue to meet and study this issue until we know every individual homeless person's story by heart and we can quantify every municipal breath taken and dollar spent addressing the homeless issue, or we can all agree that they've done a good job of helping us focus on this issue, thank them for their fine work and move forward to get something positive done to solve the problem. In my view, the re-constitution of the Job Center as a Resource Center with a Homeless Advocate is the right step.

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31 Comments:

Blogger Gericault said...

We'll take the job center on the Westside.....but you covert one of the Newport Blvd. Motels as a "flop house" on the Eastside.Don't be pushing everything over here Geoff.......

4/21/2011 02:07:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Actually, Gericault, that sounds like a pretty good trade - if we need a flop house, that is. It only makes sense to put the service where the folks are located who need it. Maybe we could find something right on the Westside border with Newport Beach. :-)

4/21/2011 02:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Serious issue said...

The chronically homeless do not need a job center. They need realistic resources to address the issues that have led them to become chronically homeless.

Creating another magnet for the homeless on the Westide. Genius.

Please, be serious.

4/21/2011 02:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Honeyman said...

I'm with my neighbor Gericault on this one, Geoff. The Mansoor mission to close the job center was just a whole lotta posturing, like the former mayor.

The Ali Baba would make a fine flophouse....and perhaps a restaurant in the vicinity with a compassionate owner could feed the folks. If only there was one close, say around 20th and Newport?

4/21/2011 02:34:00 PM  
Anonymous OCLonghair said...

1. Colin was home posting on your blog and arguing with everyone. Q: What are Colin's full of?

2. Conference Room 1A is a perfect place to meet; small space makes for less attendees; small space means less homeless to comment; 3 miles away from park makes it harder for homeless to attend... great plan!

3. Resource Center - could work... no pun intended. Plenty of small office spaces around Lion's Park. Plenty of Gov Grants for that purpose; keep in ReDev area and use some of that money set aside. I bet a number of local businesses would donate to help defer City expenses.

4. I still think that a bus to OC Shelter at LTA in Tustin would be a great way to use a County project that is in place. I know Geoff... you think I want to leave them, but that's not my intention :)

4/21/2011 02:59:00 PM  
Blogger Gericault said...

That is a picture of my buddy Freeman. I could listen to his Alamabam drawl all day long. He's not homeless, but he is a GREAT painting contracyor.

4/21/2011 04:16:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Gericault, your buddy, Freeman, identified himself as a former homeless person and presented quite a testimony to that fact.

4/21/2011 04:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Guess What? said...

The reason Gericault identifies so much with Freeman is because he doesn't like to work either. In other words, it takes one to know one.

4/21/2011 04:39:00 PM  
Blogger Gericault said...

Yeah, I know......Freeman has a strong testimony on restoration and faith. He's a good man.

4/21/2011 05:24:00 PM  
Blogger Flo Martin said...

1. My parents and I were homeless over a period of 5 years after WW2. With the help of a church in Canada, they found shelter and work for my parents.
2. I shared lotsa pizza at the picnic Wednesday at noon in Lion's Park. Great energy and excellent food for all!
3. My grandson and I shared an hour "playing" at Lion's Park Wednesday afternoon between 2 and 3. No reason to fear anyone at anytime!!!!
4. I represent Fairview Community Church on the Churches Consortium and know that, working together with the Task Force, we will find resolution. (missed last night's meeting because I was "serving" Fristers, Mariners Church)

4/21/2011 06:19:00 PM  
Blogger Colin said...

That was a different Colin. He's the evil one, but I have the beard. Weird, usually it's the other way around. :)

Unfortunely I think any flop house near a residental zone would case the people who own homes nearby to protest. You could put then in a commerical building in the commerce zones, but then they would have transportation problems to things like city services, soup kitchens, etc. And business owners might not like the day time lotiering.

Could they do physical labor like jobs for the city and county, maybe for a paycheck, but one that has the rent taken out, and maybe some for a public transportation bus at various times so they can get to the services they need to ? Or are a majority incapacitated by mental problems and drug issues, making the above senerio a non starter ? I know the job thing sounds like prison labor, but if done well, it might be a good steppping stone to other things or learn other skills ?

If the mental and drug issues are the major problem, then spending that 70K on a flop house with a rehab/psychtrist doing semi weekly counsle sessions might be a better use of those funds then police tickets and incarceration.

4/21/2011 06:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Max said...

We need a job center. I know there are others that need help around the house. I just assume employ an out of work American instead of enabling the corrupt cycle of abusing immigrant labor. Plus, a job center could keep track of how well people do. If they stole something or did a really bad job, it could be noted. The bad day laborers move on to another city, the good ones stay here.

4/21/2011 09:45:00 PM  
Blogger Gericault said...

The second "Colin said", should help out on the task force...

4/21/2011 10:36:00 PM  
Blogger Nancy said...

For Guess What...This is Mrs. Gericault and I'm sick you and your friends making your snide comments regarding his work status. Do you have a stay at home Mom in your family or circle of friends? Why don't you ask her if she "works". Find something relevant to say and lay off the sexist, judgemental BS.

4/22/2011 09:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Serious issue said...

The homeless on the Westside won't use a job center. The job center didn't track, verify work eligibility, insurance, or anything. Total waste of money that was a magnet for illegal labor and loitering.

It is clear that the Homeless Task Force is going to be a waste of time if the last meeting was any example. The fact that churches are still conducting feedings at Lion's shows that they are part of the problem not the solution.

4/22/2011 09:52:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Serious issue,
I'm suggesting a "new" kind of job center - a Resource Center, that would provide a more thorough vetting of job-seekers and a broader range of services to homeless. The churches that feed the folks at Lions Park are only exacerbating a bad situation. The fact is - we have homeless people in our city. Come up with a better solution...

4/22/2011 10:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Comment said...

Serious: You wrote: "It is clear that the Homeless Task Force is going to be a waste of time if the last meeting was any example." How wonderful it must feel to be so wise.

4/22/2011 12:46:00 PM  
Anonymous War on christians said...

I was waiting for someone to start attacking churches for feeding the homeless.

4/22/2011 01:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Max said...

I like the sign one of those churches has on display "Christ has no hands but ours." Meaning, help your fellow brothers and sisters out if you can.

4/22/2011 06:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Guess What? said...

Mrs. Gericault (AKA Nancy):

#1) Mr. Mom was a movie. Hello ...

#2) REAL men work. They don't live off their wives.

#3) Your children must be traumatized when other children
ask them what their father does for a living.

#4) Single moms all over the country find child care for their
children when they have to work. The ROCKS program is also available through our school system.

#5) FYI - your husband spends very little time watching your
children.

#6) While you are working your husband spends his days destroying families (families with small children and families with teenage children). He has no shame.

#7) My wife said to tell you that if she had married your husband he would have been in divorce court several years ago. I won't repeat what else she said.

#8) You need to know that what your husband does reflects on both you and your children.

#9) It's time for Greg to get a job. He needs to be too tired at night to annoy and defame people.

4/22/2011 07:11:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Guess What?,

Do you feel better now that you've vented your spleen? Sounds to me like you're one envious dude! Gericault finds time to earn money in a variety of ways, tends to the needs of his family and still finds time to be an activist - not just a letter writer - in community affairs. You may not like his position on some - I don't - but he's entitled to his views and to be able to express them. All your 9-point screed did was demonstrate what a small, vindictive person you are. I'm happy to provide a platform for you whenever you want to display your shortcomings...

4/22/2011 08:34:00 PM  
Anonymous The Guess Who said...

Wow, Mr. Guess What gets the Bitterest Costa Mesan of the year award. He sounds like one unhappy dude that doesn't like the truth being told about what seems to be a plan to ruin our city just to help some carpet bagging politician get into higher office. First it was fudging the numbers to make it look like we were going bankrupt, then the idea went to outsourcing everything, then people got wise to what's going on and Mr. Guess What has been one unhappy camper since. Of course, that's all just a guess of why he might be bitter. He could also just have been born that way.

4/23/2011 12:20:00 AM  
Anonymous CMHOPE said...

Serious Issue - Three of the main churches, Saddleback, Soul Survivor and Lighthouse have ceased feeding Homeless in the Park. They have no control over independent church members. Get your facts straight before you spread lies and rumors.

4/23/2011 07:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Guess What? said...

Hey Geoff, and Gericault, it looks like you two can dish it out but you can't take it.

The definition of an activist is a person who takes action to support an opposition side. That does not entail lying, slandering, spreading false rumors, distorting the truth, name calling, making up stories, defaming, or injuring the opposition in any manner. Therefore neither one of you could possibly be defined as an "activist".

I might add that the people you hurt the most are the children of your victims. That issue alone classifies you as child abusers.

There is a BIG difference between expressing an opinion and being outright malicious. Who could possibly be envious of anyone who spends every hour, of every day, abusing children?

The shoes fit, so wear them.

4/23/2011 11:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Max said...

Isn't feeding homeless people in the park already illegal? I think you have to have a food vendor permit. Although I believe in helping out people that need it, feeding people in the park is not a good idea. It's easy enough to walk a few blocks over to a legit soup kitchen.

4/23/2011 12:40:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Guess What?,
That's a very interesting opinion expressed by someone who hides behind the veil of anonymity. I'd be happy to have you identify yourself - it might help your accusations carry more weight. In the meantime, since I think there is ZERO chance that you'll step out from behind that curtain, how about some proof of those accusations of lying, slandering, spreading false rumors, distorting truth, etc., etc,...? I'm especially interested in those accusations of abusing children. Your anonymous accusations are specious and cowardly and yet I provide you a venue to spew your venom.

4/23/2011 01:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Guess What? said...

Listen to the pot call the kettle black Mr. Pot Stirrer, and Mr. and Mrs. Gericault! Apparently those are your real names. :-)

Why should I give you my real name? Do you honestly think I would want my children drug through the same mud you've drug other children through?

You have no children Pot Stirrer so I can't expect you to understand how they feel when you publicly bad mouth their fathers.

And Gericault, I have a feeling it's only a matter of time until your words and actions will start affecting your own children, as well as the children of your victims. Children tend to talk to one another and to inflict psychological pain upon other children. Don't forget, this is the computer age and word travels fast.

Pot Stirrer, the proof of my accusations lie in the many, many bouts of mouthing off you will find among all of your postings on your own blogsite, as well as remarks you've left on numerous newspaper comment sections. Look them up yourself.

Just remember you two, anytime you bad mouth someone else, --- you also bad mouth their entire family. That includes their wives, their parents, their siblings and their children. Wives have a much better chance of rolling with the punches, but children can be damaged for life by callous IGNORANT remarks made by men with too much idle time on their hands.

Like I said before, the shoes fit both of you. It's time to think before you speak.

4/23/2011 07:14:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Guess What?,
Are you really that obtuse? You'll notice that this blog has my name right on the front page of it. Of course, you knew that because you know I don't have kids. And, unless you've been living in a cave somewhere for the past year or so, you'd know the identity of Gericault - Eric Bever "outed him" many months ago.

So we're clear about this, when I criticize someone I criticize that person - not their family, friends, anyone who ever knew them. Geez! For example, when I tell you that I think you may be a bonehead - based on your comments here - I'm not criticizing your wife for marrying a bonehead, nor your kids for having to put up with one as their father - nope, it's just you. And, since you continue to stand behind a tree and shout epithets instead if identifying yourself, it's unlikely that your siblings will know... unless you tell them, that is.

And, by the way, you began your last comment addressing THREE of us, then end up referring to TWO of us... clearly, you need to get some more sleep or change your meds. If you don't enjoy conversations here please do us all a big favor and stop writing...

4/23/2011 08:17:00 PM  
Anonymous ConcernedforCM said...

Wait a minute...."Guess What" you really want to go the route of whats hurting the children???? How about what is being done to the employees who have children? Why aren't they thought of? What is being done to help and spare them? Soon they are going to have a parent who is jobless and some of those parents are single parents. Some of these employees are renters and will need to leave where they rent and possibly go and live with family till they can get back on their feet again after they get a different job. Others are those who own homes and may have to walk away from those homes. Does ANY of that matter or are you going to come up with some lame or crude things to say about those scenarios? You can try the b.s. about the pay but what they actually take home each month (after medical and taxes) compared to what they may have to put out is nothing you know anything about unless you know the living situation of each and every employee.

This has got to be one of the council boys or cronies of the council. They are the only ones who would go this route. They pick and choose where they are gonna FAKE having a heart.

4/23/2011 08:51:00 PM  
Anonymous The Guess Who said...

Guess What sounds just like Righeimer. Righeimer would immediately take an attack against his actions, decisions, and opinions as an attack against his family. During the council forums he even used his family as a human shield.

I have never seen or heard anyone attack Righeimer's family. That would be just as wrong as Guess What's personal attacks here on this blog.

4/23/2011 09:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Greg "is a Pawn" Ridge said...

Finally. I knew it. Greg Ridge does not wear the pants in the family, now his wife gives proof. Thank you for taking out the guess work.

It is sad to watch Greg Ridge. Once upon a time while perhaps medicated Gericault had some decent ideas and did some good for the City.

Lately we have all watched the sad transition where he became the sacrificial pawn for the high net worth horse people at the Fair Grounds. Sad to watch as they “trotted” him out and scripted his comments.
Now, we see Greg Ridge aligned with the likes of Sandy Genis with Repair Costa Mesa. Again, so sad to see his efforts be so disruptive, angry, emotional and lack all facts and transparency he seeks in others.

At the very least I would be embarrassed that my wife had to come out to fight my battles. Maybe that is why he works so well with Sandy … do you think Sandy makes him dress up in private?

4/25/2011 09:16:00 AM  

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