Task force decides on stringent guidelines

New qualifications are based on those for Costa Mesa's rapid rehousing program, including having spent at least 90 days in the city in the last two years.

August 24, 2011|By Lauren Williams,

COSTA MESA — The city's Homeless Task Force has tentatively decided that only those with strong ties to the community be allowed to qualify for homeless services.

The qualifications are largely based on those used by the city's Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program. The HPRP outlines that a person must have lived in Costa Mesa within the past 24 months, for at least 90 days, with proof of residency, including a previous lease, proof of utility service, written proof of residency from a landlord or school records.

Other conditions include having an immediate family member living inside city limits. Also, if someone is known to police or code enforcement as being homeless for years up until the services became available, he or she could get "grandfathered" into the system.


Additional extending circumstances include being "medically compromised," or older than 65 and unintentionally homeless.

Although the 18-member task force voted on qualifications for services Aug. 17, the boundaries could change as the group researches the recommendations it will make to the council.

"The definition that came up isn't going to be a perfect one," said task force member Larry Haynes. "There are going to be folks that think it's too inclusive and there are going to be folks that think it's too exclusive. Given the … wide-ranging opinions, it was pretty extraordinary" that the task force came up with an almost unanimous vote on the definition.

City Councilwoman Wendy Leece, who serves on the task force, said the group sets limits on who qualifies to discourage other municipalities from "dumping" homeless people here and to distance the city from its current image as one that draws in homeless people.

"Costa Mesa has been a magnet destination for homeless persons for a long time," Leece wrote in an email. "We need to define Costa Mesa homeless resident[s] to discourage many other cities from referring and sending their homeless persons to CM … There has to be a limit as to how many homeless people CM can help get off the street and back into a productive life if possible. Other cities need to do their fair share."

Those in transitional housing, including people who live in Costa Mesa motels, would not qualify for services under the tentative definition.

The task force was careful in drawing its limits, emphasizing people with strong ties to the city, but shying away from acting as a homeless service provider for the entire county, Haynes said.

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