Gina Clayton-Tarvin's Plan to Address the Homelessness Crisis:
All candidates talk about solving the homeless problem. But the reality is, it is challenging for society to solve this issue in the current framework we currently live in California. Being unhoused is not a crime, and being homeless is not just about being provided with a "simple dwelling." Being unhoused is a complex societal issue that needs to be worked on holistically as a community.
As a longtime school trustee, I have a documented record of serving unhoused students and families in need. At OVSD, we have instituted the utilization of the McKinney-Vento Act to get services, housing, and take action to assist those experiencing homelessness. The issue is complex and often creates frustration and upset in the community when mental illness, substance abuse, and criminal behavior play a part. Yet, we know that homelessness has many faces and needs to be addressed through collaboration and coordination with multiple agencies, including law enforcement, fire department, marine safety, along with social services in Huntington Beach. The Homeless Outreach Team, the Be Well OC (HB) program, and the Navigation Center allow for different forms of intervention. The reality is, changes to laws in our nation decades ago (and some more recently) have made it more difficult to help those individuals most in need of mental health services. Therefore, I commit to use all available advocacies, lobbying abilities, and political power to advocate for changes to existing policy and law to the homelessness issue to get folks the services they need in OC. More funding must be earmarked for services that support experts on the ground.
So let's talk about solving the homelessness problem in terms that current HB residents live in. Many residents deal with homelessness daily in HB, and most see disruptive behaviors caused by the most visible in the unhoused community.
Disruptions in our community include:
Mental health challenges are real for many of our unhoused population. So we must increase the mental health resources in HB. The City has instituted a wonderful asset called Be Well OC mobile response unit, that serves folks where they are, meeting their needs, so that less police and fire department resources are utilized. We must increase community outreach to provide more to those living in situations where they are one bad day away from living on the streets. Increasing awareness about who to call and when to call are essential, and the City can do better and more to educate the public on how to get support. In the past, leaving a homeless task force officer an email about needing assistance in dealing with being unhoused seemed distant and to some inadequate. Many in HB didn't know resources exist to assist the unhoused. Although I am hopeful with the new actions of our city to mitigate the issues, and statistics show that homelessness has been decreased by 30%, I feel that many residents still do not how to access services such the Be Well OC. This needs immediate attention and action from the City of HB.
We hear a lot about petty theft and petty crime in general when the unhoused are discussed. I think many HB residents are frustrated by stolen bikes and petty thefts attributed to the homeless population. We must focus on recovery, and to get those most in need off of the streets into supportive housing. More can be done to partner with the HBPD to specifically combat this issue. There is a real demand by residents to increase stolen property recoveries. I know that our officers are ready, willing and able to work to better our community, and need the support of city leadership to do so.
Drug addiction and drug use amongst our unhoused population remains a top focus, and sober living homes that turn out those residents that violate their rules yet land on our HB streets are another concern that needs attention. We must make it illegal via city ordinance for sober living home operators to just turn folks out. We must put a stop to this.