COSTA MESA : Homeless Person to Address City Leaders

In an attempt to better understand the plight of the homeless, whose numbers are increasing each year, city leaders and charity groups Wednesday will listen to a homeless person talk about life on the streets.

The talk will be at 7 p.m. at the Neighborhood Community Center, 1845 Park Ave. Mayor Joe Erickson said he hopes all who attend will leave with a clearer picture of the problems of the homeless and of the city.

"Basically, it's a culmination of meetings we've had since last year," Erickson said. "We've identified a problem, and now we're trying to find a solution." Which solution the city will come up with is not yet clear.

Last week, the City Council passed two ordinances aimed at the homeless population. One outlaws aggressive panhandling and the other will fine businesses up to $250 if their shopping carts are abandoned in the streets and the city has to retrieve them. The carts often are taken off the premises by homeless people.

Some residents, especially on the west side where homeless people tend to congregate, blame charity groups for acting as a magnet by providing food and shelter.

Karen McGlinn, the executive director of Share Our Selves, a nonprofit organization that helps the homeless, said: "The concept has always been that the institution is a problem as opposed to a response to a problem, and that's the issue we have to address."

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