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$200,000 grant may ‘turbocharge’ Laguna nonprofit’s goal to provide 180 permanent housing units for homeless people by 2020

$200,000 grant may ‘turbocharge’ Laguna nonprofit’s goal to provide 180 permanent housing units for homeless people by 2020
This apartment complex in Dana Point provides permanent housing for homeless people with guidance from the nonprofit Friendship Shelter of Laguna Beach. (Courtesy of Friendship Shelter)

A $200,000 Bank of America grant announced Wednesday for the Friendship Shelter of Laguna Beach will help “turbocharge” the nonprofit’s goal to provide 180 permanent housing units for homeless people by 2020, the shelter said.

“Our goal is to end homelessness so there are no more chronically homeless people in south Orange County,” said Dawn Price, the nonprofit’s executive director. “We estimate we need at least 180 units to accomplish that.”

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Friendship Shelter’s permanent supportive housing program, launched in 2014, currently has 87 units at apartment sites throughout south Orange County, with ongoing support services to ensure people remain housed, the organization said. The units are for people who are chronically homeless and unable to work because of a disability or mental health condition.

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“By addressing needs for long-term housing followed by wraparound support services, Friendship Shelter’s collaborative and client-focused approach has seen great success in keeping people off the streets and getting impactful support at a time when Orange County needs it most,” according to a statement by Allen Staff, Orange County market president for Bank of America.

Of Orange County’s nearly 5,000 homeless people, more than half are not in any form of shelter, according to the Orange County Continuum of Care’s 2017 Homeless Count and Survey Report.

Orange County cities are struggling to figure out how to address the homelessness issue. U.S. District Judge David Carter tasked cities in April with identifying potential shelter sites after a county proposal for temporary ones in Irvine, Laguna Niguel and Huntington Beach was scrapped amid protests from residents and city leaders.

Carter is presiding over a lawsuit filed in January by homeless advocates who sought to halt the removal of an encampment along the Santa Ana River trail.

Finding permanent housing options in Orange County is a challenge partly because of housing costs and scarcity of land, Price said. Bank of America’s Neighborhood Builder grant will help the program inch closer to reaching its goal, she added.

Friendship Shelter, founded in 1988, provides temporary housing, meals and support services for about 30 people at a residential shelter on South Coast Highway in Laguna Beach. It also staffs the Alternative Sleeping Location, an overnight shelter on Laguna Canyon Road that can sleep 45 people a night and offers meals, access to showers and laundry and connections to housing, healthcare and mental health services.

More than 10,000 people have participated in the nonprofit’s programs, according to Friendship Shelter.

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