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The City of Tustin made this announcement as soon as we could.
The City has been involved in a lawsuit in Federal Court. While in settlement discussions, the City has been precluded from discussing its litigation and settlement strategies publicly. The City immediately published a press release on the same day that the City signed the settlement agreement. Given the City would be required to establish a shelter facility within 120 days of signing the agreement, it was necessary for the City to evaluate potential shelter sites at the same time the settlement discussions were on-going to accomplish that timeframe.
In addition, the City’s initial plans for settlement (which would have simply added beds to the existing facilities at the Village of Hope) were derailed by the Ninth Circuit’s decision on September 4th, and as a result, the City was forced to go back to the drawing board and develop an entirely different plan in a very compressed period of time. The City’s proposal was presented in Federal Court two weeks later and reported in the Orange County Register on September 19th.
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A minimum 50-bed, emergency homeless shelter facility that is ADA accessible and serves homeless men, women, and families from within Tustin only. Other cities will not be able to bring their homeless individuals to Tustin’s shelter. The facility’s primary focus is assisting program participants with creating a housing plan, making connections to housing resources and finding transitional and permanent housing as soon as possible.
The safety of our children and community are of the utmost importance and at the center of all decisions regarding how the facility will operate. The City and the planned operator, Orange County Rescue Mission, feel confident with the proposed safety and security elements that the Tustin community, and most importantly, the children of Heritage Elementary, will be safe and secure:
The temporary facility is proposed to be within roughly three-quarters of the buildings at the former Advanced Technology and Education Park (ATEP) buildings at the northeast corner of Red Hill and Valencia Avenues. A conceptual shelter facility layout is depicted in Figure 1.
Figure 1: Conceptual Shelter Facility Layout
So that Tustin may continue to use its anti-camping and park closure ordinances to protect public safety and public health, and to avoid costly lawsuits.
Recently the City of Tustin, as well as all other Orange County cities, were sued in Federal Court in an effort to address the lack of emergency shelter beds for the homeless in Tustin and Orange County. The City of Tustin entered into a settlement to help keep our City safe. As other nearby cities settle their lawsuits, those cities will be able to enforce their own ordinances with the potential to affect surrounding cities.
In addition, last month the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with six homeless individuals in Boise, Idaho over an ordinance that banned people from sleeping in public spaces. That decision requires the immediate availability of shelter beds at the time a city goes to enforce such laws. In essence, the Ninth Circuit said that it is unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment to punish an individual for sleeping or loitering in parks, tents or homeless encampments if there is no bed available for them to go to.
Pursuant to the settlement agreement, Tustin must have a shelter operational within 120 days, that is, February 23, 2019.
No. This program will operate with a strict no-walk-up policy and by referral only. Clients without personal vehicles must coordinate a transportation plan to and from the shelter.
When the Tustin Police Department or the City’s Consultant, City Net, encounter homeless individuals or families within Tustin, those individuals are then offered a bed. If they accept the offer and pass the screening process (no sex offenders and no one with a felony warrant will be allowed at the facility) and an appropriate bed is determined to be available, they are transported to the main entrance. The referring party escorts them into the building and through the intake process. Those that are already staying there and who desire to enter or exit the facility may only do so through pre-arranged transportation.
Upon an individual’s refusal of a bed, the Tustin Police Department may begin enforcement of anti-camping, park hour and similar ordinances.
The facility will serve homeless men, women, and families from within the City of Tustin. One building is proposed to accommodate men and one to accommodate women and families.
No. Prior to becoming eligible for coming to the facility, all prospective clients will be screened off-site for open felony warrants and status as a registered sex offender. If the client has an open felony warrant or is a registered sex offender, they are not eligible and will not be transported to the facility. Those with open felony warrants will be arrested.
In this case, temporary means that the facility will be in this location for a temporary period. This is not the long-term homeless shelter solution for Tustin. Once the long-term shelter is open, this temporary facility will close. Pursuant to the settlement agreement, the City of Tustin is required to start operating a shelter within 120 days and to operate a homeless shelter for a minimum of 24 months.
The City of Tustin is continuing to design and plan the establishment of the Tustin Police Department Substation and Parks Department Annex at the former ATEP facility, which the City hopes to open in conjunction with the opening of the Veterans Sports Park.
Individuals may stay for up to 180 days; however, the facility’s primary day-to-day focus is assisting program participants with creating a housing plan, making connections to housing resources and moving them to transitional and permanent housing as soon as possible.
The City tried to partner with Santa Ana but the Federal Court prohibited that as part of the settlement. This stemmed from Court’s and Santa Ana’s belief that all Orange County cities were bringing their homeless to Santa Ana, and one of their objectives is to stop the flow to, and concentration in, Santa Ana of homeless individuals.