What Supportive Housing Is and Isn’t



As a board member of Friendship Shelter, I’m grateful to Michael and Kimberly Fowlkes for so perfectly illustrating in their letter (“Shelter Worse Than a Natural Disaster,” Letters, April 11) what the proposed permanent supportive housing development at 20652 Laguna Canyon Road will be and will not be.

It will be: A place for disabled, chronically homeless people to live in extremely modest, efficiency-style apartments of their own, safely out of the elements and harm’s way, off the streets and beaches, and with wraparound social services delivered via professional staff including a full-time, live-in manager.

It won’t be:  a free-for-all for people who could be working and paying their own way to obtain free or low-cost housing.

It will be:  a solution that reduced the need for police involvement with homeless people by 81% in its first year in Portland, Maine, thereby addressing the negative effects chronic homelessness has on a community.

It won’t be: a substitute for law enforcement action in addressing illegal activity that disturbs the peace of canyon residents.

It will be: a right-sized apartment community that meets the demonstrated need for permanent supportive housing in Laguna Beach and generates sufficient funding to ensure sustainability.

It won’t be: a “low-income, high-density apartment complex” or anything veiled in secrecy.

Friendship Shelter is working to make this an open, community-wide discussion about applying a solution locally that has had much success nationwide.

Questions are welcome; studying the facts and formulating an informed opinion are a must.

Barbara Louise (Lou) McMurray, Laguna Beach

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