Council wants to study homelessness

The Huntington Beach City Council on Monday agreed to schedule a study session on homelessness.

The decision was a compromise to Councilman Joe Carchio's proposal, which aimed to establish a homeless task force to develop solutions.

"I really don't like giving in on this," he said, "but I think that if this is the only way that we can move forward, that we can save the desperation that some of these folks have and start solving this problem, I'll go along with it."

Orange County in 2010 implemented a 10-year plan developed by its Commission to End Homelessness. But the councilman complained that the county is moving too slowly.

"The county has a 10-[year] plan, and it has been in effect since 2010 and nothing's gotten done," Carchio said to Councilwoman Connie Boardman, who suggested that the council should analyze the county's performance before the city forms a committee.

"[Homelessness] has increased. If you're going to sit back and wait for the county to do the work that we need to do as a city, it's never going to get done."

According to the county's plan and a commission staff report, the number of homeless people countywide has decreased from 6,939 in 2011 to 4,251 in 2013.

Council members agreed that homelessness is a problem in Surf City, but a majority of them disagreed with Carchio, saying the problem is too large and complex for one city, let alone the county, to handle.

"If the county thinks it's going to take them 10 years, it is unrealistic to think it would take us less, because the county has a lot more resources that we do," Boardman said.

She said she wants the city to build on work the county has already done.

Mayor Matthew Harper said a study session would be the best first step.

"Even though I like the idea of a committee, I think that just simply bringing it straight to the council is really the way to be able to take a look at this issue as a whole," he said.

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