Now that the City has determined that a moratorium on development in Laguna Canyon is not necessary, it is again time to focus on a plan that will eventually result in the building of permanent supportive housing to help address the issue of homelessness in Laguna Beach. Research completed by the National Alliance to End Homelessness has determined that the most effective model for reducing homelessness is permanent supportive housing. It has also determined that permanent supportive housing is the most cost effective method for addressing chronic homelessness as it greatly reduces the cost for police and fire department intervention, trips to the emergency room, etc.
All one has to do is read the police log every week to realize that a significant amount of our limited police resources are dedicated to dealing with the relatively small homeless population who live in Laguna Beach. This is not too difficult to comprehend when one understands that every day the 50 or so homeless residents of Laguna Beach have to deal with the despair that travels with being homeless, having nothing to do with their time, no place to go, no hope for employment, and really very few options for becoming self-sufficient.
Supportive housing has proven to be the most effective vehicle for helping homeless individuals transition to permanent and long-term housing.
In 2007 and into early 2008 I served on the Homeless Task Force and also was the chairperson of the Housing and Human Services Committee. One of the recommendations of that task force was to consider permanent supportive housing as one way of helping to address homelessness in Laguna Beach. I can easily remember the days when the ASLwas being discussed and the standard argument against it was that it would attract more homeless folks. This has not happened, and to the best of my knowledge there is no credible research that has demonstrated that building permanent supportive housing is a magnet to attract additional homeless individuals.
There is a window of opportunity for the citizens and leaders of our community to embrace the building of permanent supportive housing and to take a meaningful step in addressing homelessness in Laguna Beach. Homelessness is not a crime. Our community has always supported our residents in time of need, and there is no reason to treat our homeless residents any differently than our residents who are fortunate enough to have housing.
Michael Gosselin, Laguna Beach
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