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Housing for Homeless Encounters Resistence

Editor,

The proposed development for a permanent supportive 40 unit housing project to house those mental and/or physical disabled will include those with chronic substance abuse issues since sobriety is neither mandatory nor required for any resident.

The disabled were identified as those homeless who are mentally (schizophrenia, bipolar, Tourette syndrome, severely depressed, etc), physically and or having any chronic substance abuse issue. It was explained many residents often have combined issues. There is no legal requirement to enforce residents to engage in sobriety or any other program or service to remain in facility. Residents would retain every citizen freedom and have no secure curfew guideline.

June 17, 2014 I attended the first meeting along with 13 other local residents. Chamber of Commerce refused to notice business owners and does not support the proposed development project. Friendship Shelter staff attempted to manage the narrative to discuss only the merits and positive statistics of those successful projects of permanent housing facilities in other cites and states. Statistics were quoted from the state of Maine. Failed models and failed programs were not discussed. No admission of risks or possible problems were mentioned from other facilities. Friendship Shelter executive staff spoke of the project as if the location had already been determined and these community forums were limited in scope to address questions and concerns regarding the model and the program. FS claimed to not have a concept design plan though others admitted to having seen the proposed development plan in size and scope, which gave cause for the proposed site to be staked. Concerns to address the proposed location in the canyon, having serious safety issues of unintended consequence to human life by not having a pedestrian path, floodplain, fire hazard and being far away from city services of basic human needs of grocery store, post office, police, fire or hospital. The overwhelming response from residents attending was unfavorable.

The second June 19 meeting was standing room only of approximately 40-45 concerned canyon & city residents along with PMMC, LOF, VL members in attendance. The evening began with a presentation and taking questions from the audience about the program. The focus changed quickly from the executive director attempting to guide the narrative to exclusively discuss only the merits of the program to the citizen clamor to alter the discussion to address their major concern of proposing use of the rural canyon to build a 2-3 story apartment complex.

Despite the effort of the executive director and her staff to sell and spin this project, by using emotion of story telling to give faces and names to the local homeless. The residents regained the floor to address major safety concerns of the proposed location referencing the irresponsible notion to place our most vulnerable mentally disabled in harms way, deep in the canyon, without a safe pedestrian path. Flood, fire, lack of police and fire, hospital, pharmacy while having only rural lighting without a pedestrian walking path.

There is overwhelming community agreement Laguna Beach suffers a homeless problem. The Friendship Shelter is hired to manage the ASL; however, unfortunately have not proven they can effectively manage, maintain the safety or security of the ASL to a degree of satisfaction. Note recent stabbing in news! The ASL in the canyon has created an ongoing safety issue. Residents shared stories of dealing with transients and a 40-unit apartment shelter in the canyon is not being sensitive to either the safety nor myriad of environmental concerns.

The safest and most environmentally sound location for the proposed facility would be on city owned property closer to downtown. The city owned lot formerly sited for the large parking structure on Forest Avenue & Broadway at the village entrance would increase funding by 40% by having disabled housing built within 1.3 miles of downtown enabling disabled residents easy access to amenities. The safety issue will be solved having nearby access to police, fire, proximity to Mission Hospital, doctors, pharmacy, post office, groceries, disabled pedestrian crossing paths, making this a well suited location that was formerly unavailable when Friendship Shelter was considering available city owned property.

Since the village entrance has not yet been designed, this permanent supportive housing project could easily be incorporated into the village entrance model. FSI was agreeable in noticing the considerable benefit of using this location for the development of their disabled housing project. In fact, they were encouraged by the suggestion since funding would be significantly increased by 40 percent for the project being nearby downtown.

Lorene Auger, Laguna Beach

 

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