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Newport Beach mayor announces ‘Renew Newport’ campaign

Newport Beach Mayor Kevin Muldoon speaks.
Newport Beach Mayor Kevin Muldoon speaks at a Speak Up Newport candidates’ forum in April. Muldoon recently announced ‘Renew Newport,’ a campaign to encourage the collaboration of the public sector with faith-based groups to address homelessness.
(Spencer Grant)

Newport Beach Mayor Kevin Muldoon kicked off a new campaign during his remarks at Speak Up Newport’s 40th annual Mayor’s Dinner. Not a political campaign, though Muldoon is running for a seat on the Orange County Board of Supervisors.

Instead it’s a push for efforts between faith-based nonprofits and private citizens to address homelessness that Muldoon is calling “Renew Newport.”

In his remarks Thursday night, Muldoon said the city of Newport Beach — like other cities throughout Orange County — have done “everything we can as a government agency” to address homelessness in the city.

In recent months, the city rolled out its own chapter of mobile mental health services through Be Well OC. It also opened a permanent bridge shelter in partnership with the city of Costa Mesa in 2021, sheltering and serving at least 65 individuals from the city’s homeless population.

Numbers from the county’s Point-in-Time count, which tracks the number of sheltered and unsheltered homeless individuals in a given place, reported 96 in Newport Beach this year. The city contends this number does not match the most recent data, which indicates an average of 51 homeless individuals in the city over an eight-month period beginning in July 2021. A count taken in March found 47 unhoused people in the city.

While homelessness appears to be trending down countywide in general, Muldoon said he feels more can be done if private residents join the fight too alongside faith-based organizations.

“By activating new partnerships with faith-based groups, we can drastically reduce those impacted by homelessness and build a stronger community,” said Muldoon in his remarks to Speak Up Newport.

In an interview Friday, Muldoon said, “There really are three distinct goals: homelessness being the first, that’s going to rely the most heaviest on professionals trained by these nonprofits; the second is assisting with homes that have been neglected either due to physical restrictions or individuals aging that haven’t been able to maintain the regular upkeep and the third is an education component that’s going to look to offer volunteer tutoring to our local schools and teacher appreciation functions.”

The Renew Newport campaign is chiefly organized by Trellis International, which is based in Costa Mesa, and currently has the collaboration of St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, the W Church, Redeemer OC and St. Mark Presbyterian Church, Muldoon said.

Short of maybe a few waived fees for meetings at City Hall, Muldoon said he doesn’t expect “Renew Newport” to cost anything to the city or its residents except for their time.

When asked why he wanted to launch the initiative when his tenure as both mayor and city councilman ends in half a year, Muldoon said, “My hope is that it continues well past when I’m off City Council and I believe that it will because it does not require much from the city, except for to offer assistance and a providing a place to kick off the volunteer days and to lend its name in coordination for future events.”

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