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Newport Beach signs on to trust to fund housing for the homeless

Newport Beach signs on to trust to fund housing for the homeless
The Cove Apartments is a 12-unit supportive housing complex that opened last year on Newport Beach’s west side. (File Photo)

Newport Beach has agreed to join a regional funding collective that seeks to provide permanent supportive housing to the homeless.

The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to sign on to the Orange County Housing Finance Trust, a joint powers authority that brings together the county and various city governments to secure and allocate funding for affordable housing projects augmented with onsite social and health services.

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The council agreed after a pitch from a familiar face: former Newport city manager Dave Kiff, who is currently interim executive director of the Assn. of California Cities-Orange County. The group developed legislation that led to the plan becoming law this year.

Six cities aside from Newport have joined, along with the county government.

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“It’s really about Orange County linking arms as one big entity and being as important in the room as Los Angeles or the Bay Area or San Diego and securing our share of funds specifically for supportive housing, housing for persons who are chronically homeless to make sure they’re never homeless again,” Kiff said.

The trust is eligible to receive public and private funding. It will ask for about $100 million, mostly authorized by last year’s Proposition 1, a state voter-approved initiative for $4 billion in general obligation bonds for housing-related programs, loans, grants, and projects and housing loans for veterans. It is expected to put out a call for projects by the fall, Kiff said.

“If you feel like you want to see more supportive housing built in your community, it’s a great reason to join,” he said. “If you’re not sure what [you] want yet but want to be at the table, that’s also a good reason. You’ve got money you might want to put in the regional solution, that’s a good one. Some cities will just say, ‘You know what, we want to show others we’re participating.’ Those are all good reasons to join. I don’t see a lot of reasons not to join.”

The trust does not require member cities to take a share of housing units or chip in their own money.

The Cove Apartments, a renovated 12-unit complex that serves formerly homeless veterans and low-income senior citizens, opened in Newport Beach last year. A partnership between Mercy House, a Santa Ana-based nonprofit, and Community Development Partners, a Newport Beach-based affordable housing developer, led to its opening.

Weed-pulling contract

The City Council agreed to a $2-million, five-year landscaping contract with Lake Forest-based Natures Image for weed abatement and other vegetation management.

Services will include vegetation clearance, trimming, erosion protection, slope stabilization and restoration, and clearing of debris from storm drains and ditches. Work will be done only with hand tools, without chemical insecticides or herbicides.

Water tax opposition

The council agreed to issue a letter of opposition to a state bill that would tax drinking water.

Assembly Bill 217 would tack a monthly charge onto individual water meters in nearly 3,000 public water systems to help about 300 small water systems that struggle to provide clean drinking water in their communities.

The city will back alternative bills in the state Senate that would authorize creation of small-system water authorities and a safe drinking water trust using a one-time appropriation of surplus state general fund dollars.

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