OC Register: Homeless hot spots: Costa Mesa caring for ‘our own’

By MIKE REICHER

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

Costa Mesa residents, churchgoers, officials and others are helping the homeless off the streets.

That’s magnanimous by most accounts, but there’s a catch: They want to mostly help Costa Mesa residents, and discourage others from coming to town.

The first step in their process, a census and survey by Vanguard University, found a stable population between 100 and 120 locals. The homeless hot spots were mainly on the city’s Westside, near nonprofits and churches. Now, officials are finalizing their list of residents while stepping up their enforcement measures.

“We want to take care of our own, but we don’t want to be an attractant,” said City Councilman Steve Mensinger.

Click here to watch a video about a Costa Mesa church helping the homeless.

One of the men they are focusing on is Don, 50, a regular at the Lighthouse Church. Like many homeless, he prefers to use his first name because of the stigma.

On Monday, he met with city social worker Rosemary Nielsen – an impromptu chat about where he could live. A recovering addict with two dogs, Don is hard to place into limited housing.

Nielsen may soon have a new option: Officials are planning to convert an old motel into supportive housing and create an “adoption” program for people like Don – homeless with long-standing ties to the city.

But not everyone believes in the plan. Without other cities taking the same approach, some argue, Costa Mesa will just be pushing people around, to places with fewer resources. Some see the city’s social services as the big magnet – if they aren’t as selective as the city, why would people stop coming?

CITY TO FINALIZE LIST OF HOMELESS

The city is finalizing a list of roughly 100-120 chronically homeless people it considers Costa Mesa residents.

If they make the cut, homeless individuals may qualify for city-coordinated services like housing.

If they don’t, they have to rely on county, private or other resources.

Either way, people living on the street face heightened law enforcement and other measures designed to make Costa Mesa less inviting to them.

Officials call this a “carrot and stick” approach to ending homelessness in Costa Mesa. Here are some of the city’s actions:

Carrots

•Contracted with a mental health worker to assist police

•Worked with churches to open a storage facility for personal belongings

•Hired a part-time social worker, with plans to hire two more

•Working with faith-based community to “adopt” a homeless family or individual

•Seeking a developer to build supportive housing with mental health, job referral, and medical services

•Working with churches to reunite individuals with families in other cities

•Seeking funding for emergency motel stays, bus and airline tickets

Sticks

•Police issued 190 citations in Lions Park this year and made 52 arrests, more than doubling last year’s numbers

•Hired park rangers that patrol Lions Park and other parks, looking for violations

•Banned smoking in parks

•Banned extra belongings stored on bike racks

•Demolished shade structure in Lions Park

•Drafting a law against leaving unattended belongings in public

•Considering surveillance cameras in Lions Park

•Planning heightened enforcement of anti-camping laws

VOICES

Can it work?

“It would work if every one of our cities that border Costa Mesa embraced the same approach. Without that, we’re just taking homeless people somewhere else to be homeless.” -Ed Clarke, Vanguard University sociology professor

“I think the biggest obstacle is to keep them from coming. There are so many services…I don’t think they can ever stop the massive influx.” -Marisa David, resident of the Vendome Condominiums, adjacent to Lions Park

“A key aspect has to be housing and getting them off the streets. Something beyond providing meals.” -David Snow, UC Irvine sociology professor

For full story in OC Register Click HERE

Employees Community Fund of Boeing California Awards Women Veterans Grant to Vanguard University

Women veterans in Orange County to benefit from community safety net designed to improve transition to civilian life

COSTA MESA, CA, December 12, 2012 – Vanguard University (VU), a regionally ranked, private, Christian university of liberal arts and professional studies, announced today that its Global Center for Women & Justice (GCWJ), in tandem with its Veterans Resource Center (VRC), is a recipient of the Employees Community Fund of Boeing California’s 2012 Crystal Vision Awards. The grant was presented at a luncheon ceremony hosted by the Board of the Employees Community Fund of Boeing California (ECF) at the Long Beach Marriott on Friday, Dec. 7, 2012.

According to the ECF, the purpose of the 2012 grant fund was to engender creativity and innovation in bolstering a nonprofit organization’s ability to provide services to veterans as they transition from military service to civilian life and employment. Being able to effectively remove the barriers to this transition is a key focus of the grant requirement.

Female veterans at risk twice as much as male counterparts
As more women join the military than any other time in history, they are sharing a greater portion of combat deployments. In Orange County alone, there are more than 9,600 women veterans. This number continues to increase as more Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) Veterans transition out of the military. In transitioning out of military life, women return to a support system that is primarily focused on males and has been slow to adapt to the unique challenges that face women veterans.

“Accepting the Employees Community Fund award for the launch of the OC Women Veterans Network was especially moving,” says Sandra Morgan, director of GCWJ. “The Boeing employees who attended, many of whom are veterans, are already making a difference through community. That’s the kind of community that will be at the foundation of our vision to grow a sustainable network that connects resources from private and public sectors to improve opportunity, access, and achievement for our women veterans living in Orange County.”

Education as a path to seamless transition
Many OIF/OEF Veterans are using higher education as a transition platform due to the excellent benefits provided under the Post 9/11 GI Bill. As a full Yellow Ribbon university, Vanguard student veterans benefit financially from additional programs designed to prepare them for transitioning successfully into the civilian workforce without the added burden and stress of mounting debt.
“This is a golden opportunity for GCWJ to expand our existing services to women, particularly because of Vanguard’s deep commitment to providing financial, emotional, and spiritual assistance to veterans,” says Brent Theobald, director of government affairs at Vanguard University. “As the first full Yellow Ribbon university in Orange County that also houses a Veterans Resource Center, we are perfectly poised to understand and provide the services that female veterans require given their unique experiences in the military. Equipping them with the tools to overcome academic and social challenges during transition and build pathways to wholeness and independence is our goal.”

“This is a time of great stress for our military, as many service members face repeated combat deployments,” says Carrie Bollwinkle, executive director of the Employees Community Fund. “Because of their commitment to women and veterans, Vanguard was one of ten organizations that applied for the 2012 Crystal Vision Grant. We are confident that Vanguard will be successful in addressing these critical needs by leveraging all of their resources and expertise.”
For more information about the Global Center for Women at Vanguard University, visit http://www.vanguard.edu/gcwj/; for information about Vanguard’s Veterans Resource Center at Vanguard University, visit http://www.vanguard.edu/veterans/.
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ABOUT VANGUARD UNIVERSITY

Vanguard University (VU) is a regionally ranked, private, Christian university of liberal arts and professional studies. Located ten minutes from Newport Beach and an hour from Los Angeles, Vanguard equips students for a Spirit-empowered life of Christ-focused leadership and service. Vanguard is committed to academic excellence, boasting small class sizes that are designed to cultivate lasting professor-mentor relationships that enhance the learning process. Ranked annually by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top 10 colleges in the west since 2010, Accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), Vanguard offers more than 30 degrees and certificates through its undergraduate, graduate, and professional studies programs.

ABOUT THE EMPLOYEES COMMUNITY FUND OF BOEING CALIFORNIA

The Employees Community Fund of Boeing California (“ECF CA”) is a nonprofit legal entity made up solely of Boeing California employee contributions. Boeing employees contribute via payroll deductions to ECF CA which is a pooled fund model. A Board of Directors comprised of Boeing employee contributors then determines how the pooled funds will be invested in Southern California. Boeing pays for 100% of the administrative costs of the ECF CA program, so that every dollar employees’ donate is invested directly in Southern California communities.

The Crystal Vision Awards competitive grant-making program, created by ECF CA in 1990, is a special themed grant program of ECF CA. Since 1990, nearly $6.5 million in Crystal Vision grants have been awarded to 176 charitable agencies focusing on various programs such as youth mentoring, services to senior citizens, children and the homeless, veterans, environmental and arts education, and teacher effectiveness.
The purpose of the 2012 Crystal Vision grants fund is to engender creativity and innovation around the theme of “Veterans Transition” with the goal being to seed and/or grow nonprofits’ abilities to provide services to assist our veterans as they transition from military service to civilian life and employment, including the removal of barriers to this transition.