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Federal funding for Huntington Beach’s homeless outreach program may dip in the next fiscal year

Federal funding for Huntington Beach’s homeless outreach program may dip in the next fiscal year
Officer Gabe Ricci of the Huntington Beach Homeless Task Force looks in a tent while Officer Daniel Chichester talks with Rigoberto Espinosa, right, at a homeless encampment off Ellis Avenue in September 2018. (File Photo)

As Orange County’s homeless population grows, the Huntington Beach Police Department’s Homeless Outreach program may experience a dip in funding based on a city board’s recommendations to distribute a federal grant.

The City Council on Monday will review the Citizens Participation Advisory Board’s suggestions. The council could make changes to the committee’s recommendations during the meeting or ask city staff to return with a different proposal.

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According to the staff report, the city is projected to receive $1.15 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant program.

The advisory board previously held three public hearings, reviewed proposals and heard presentations before presenting its recommendations to the council in March.

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Under the committee’s suggestions, the police department’s homeless program may only receive $73,355 for the fiscal year beginning July 1. The program includes an outreach coordinator, two full-time liaison officers and five case managers.

The program received $78,355 in 2018-19. The Police Department requested $92,000 for 2019-20.

During the March study session, board member Shelly Grace-Bowers told the council the panel wanted to “give everything to them but we couldn’t do that” when Mayor Pro Tem Lyn Semeta voiced concerns about the reduced amount for homeless outreach.

Semeta had said she wanted to keep funding on par with the year previous.

In another case, StandUp For Kids, a national nonprofit with an O.C. chapter, may receive $10,000 for 2019-20 — a $5,000 bump if approved by the council. The nonprofit, which works with homeless youth, requested $15,000.

The exact amount of the block grants depends on final federal approval.

City staff also anticipate receiving $606,864 from HUD to help fund affordable housing and housing rehabilitation programs.

Sidewalk vendor program

In other business, the council will consider adopting an ordinance for a permanent street vendor program with a $268 permit fee.

The council temporarily lifted its prohibition on street vendors in January to comply with a state law and give city staff time to brainstorm recommendations for a permanent ordinance. The new proposal is nearly identical.

Street vendors would be required to apply annually for a permit and a business license, which must be displayed at all times. Permits will be nontransferable.

Vendors would be prohibited from doing business in residential zones, at the beach and in nearby areas, such as Pier Plaza, downtown, parks, City Hall and along Pacific Coast Highway inside city limits. It’s unclear where vendors would be able to do business in compliance with the restrictions.

City spokeswoman Julie Toledo said in an email Friday that the city has received three inquiries about the program from interested parties. She said the city will officially start accepting applications after Monday’s meeting.

Monday’s council meeting begins at 6 p.m. in the Civic Center, 2000 Main St.

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