Costa Mesa, Laguna Beach vie for trailers to isolate people from city homeless shelters

Costa Mesa’s homeless shelter at the Lighthouse Church of the Nazarene has set beds apart to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, but the city is also asking for 10 trailers to house senior and chronically ill homeless people.
(Courtesy of Mercy House)

Costa Mesa and Laguna Beach hope to get some surplus trailers in order to house homeless residents as a method of preventing the spread of coronavirus.

Laguna Beach will receive two trailers for the Alternative Sleeping Location, the city-operated homeless shelter on Laguna Canyon Road, according to senior administrative analyst Jeremy Frimond.

Costa Mesa is still awaiting confirmation from the county on whether it will get the 10 trailers the city requested, assistant city manager Susan Price said in a statement. The city has been coordinating with the Orange County fairgrounds about possibly locating the trailers there. The trailers would each house one or two senior or chronically ill people, Price said in a presentation to the Costa Mesa City Council Tuesday night.

Following a vote by the City Council Tuesday, Costa Mesa will begin tapping into another resource to get aid to local businesses faster.

Two people from the Costa Mesa shelter have been tested because of flu-like symptoms, Price said, but the tests were negative for COVID-19.

The trailers would come from Santa Ana, where the state allocated 39, the city’s public affairs information officer Paul Eakins wrote in an email. Santa Ana will keep 22 to isolate homeless people from the local shelter who have tested positive for COVID-19, and return the remaining 17 trailers to the county to distribute to other localities, he said.

Temporarily housing folks in trailers would be “a preventative measure among our most vulnerable homeless population,” Price said.

Already, Costa Mesa has been housing senior and chronically ill homeless people at area hotels, she said. Costs are expected to be reimbursed by the state.

The local shelters have put in other safety measures including more social distancing of residents and sanitizing more frequently. County officials are also preparing to repurpose the Joplin Youth Center, a former juvenile correctional facility, into a temporary shelter for older homeless people who have not tested positive for COVID-19.

As of Tuesday, Price said, 28 people were housed at the city shelter at the Lighthouse Church of the Nazarene, which holds up to 50 people. According to last year’s Point in Time count of the homeless population in Orange County, Costa Mesa has 187 unhoused residents.

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