As Costa Mesa homeless shelter marks its first six months, city says 18 people have been housed so far

A client sits in the multipurpose room at Costa Mesa’s homeless shelter at Lighthouse Church of the Nazarene at 1885 Anaheim Ave. in the city’s Westside. The facility opened in April.
(File Photo)

Of the 130-plus people who have received services at Costa Mesa’s flagship homeless shelter in the nearly six months since it opened, 18 have been placed in permanent housing throughout Orange County, according to a report the city released this week.

Six other people will go through the intake process for permanent housing within the next month, said Larry Haynes, executive director of Mercy House Living Centers, the nonprofit that operates the shelter.

“Both Mercy House and city staff, I think we’re all very proud of the housing rates so far,” Haynes said.

Since it opened at the beginning of April, the shelter — located for now at Lighthouse Church of the Nazarene at 1885 Anaheim Ave. — has provided nearly 1,500 different services, according to the city report. Up to 50 people of various ages visit the facility every day for shelter and other services such as healthcare, job connections, legal advice, mental health resources and transportation. Haynes said all of the 50 beds are filled nearly every night.

“Costa Mesa is leading the way with a successful shelter model that helps those experiencing homelessness find housing,” Mayor Katrina Foley said in a statement. “Earlier this year, the City Council took a courageous step to create a bridge shelter. It was the humane and right thing to do, and the result has been a significant improvement to our community and neighborhoods.”

The shelter has 36 beds for men and 14 for women. Clients are required to make a reservation to stay there and must meet with a case manager at least once a week. The report said many have been meeting more frequently.

“The numbers speak for themselves,” City Manager Lori Ann Farrell Harrison said in a statement. “Many cities throughout the county, and even the state, are looking to Costa Mesa for advice on how to address the root causes of homelessness while enforcing their anti-camping ordinances.”

The shelter’s creation was prompted by a federal lawsuit filed in January 2018 on behalf of several homeless people cleared from a former encampment along the Santa Ana River.

As part of an agreement to settle the suit, Costa Mesa committed to providing enough beds to serve 60% of the 103 unsheltered homeless people counted in the city during a 2017 countywide homeless census.

That gave Costa Mesa a target of 62 beds — 12 of which are provided through a partnership with College Hospital, a local acute-care facility, and designated for people suffering a mental health crisis.

The latest countywide homeless count, which took place in January, documented 187 unsheltered people in Costa Mesa.

The Lighthouse Church “bridge shelter,” as city leaders call it, provides an interim space for homeless people while the city works to establish a permanent shelter at 3175 Airway Ave.

Mercy House will operate the long-term shelter, which is expected to open by mid-2020.

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