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Salvation Army to provide homeless services in Whittier

WHITTIER — The Salvation Army will serve as the service provider for the establishment and operation of a homeless navigation center, following City Council action May 12. 

“Negotiations with the Salvation Army for a service provider agreement for a 139-bed navigation center will require staff time and attorney time, however, costs would likely be around $1,500-2,000 and potential conditional use permit processing costs could be $5,000,” said Assistant City Manager Shannon DeLong, in a written report to the council. “The final service provider agreement and costs will appear before the Council at a future date,” “A final negotiated agreement with the Salvation Army, (which owns a site at 7926 Pickering Ave,) may not return back to the City Council for approval until late summer or early fall 2020 because of a predicted 16-week period of negotiation and county and state approval, she said.

Delong noted that the Salvation Army was among four organizations which submitted proposals.

Delong said the City Council adopted a homeless action plan in July 2018 that included four goals:

• Support local and regional coordination among the city, service providers and key stakeholders around housing and supportive services.

• Assist in increasing public awareness about homelessness.

• Ensure that city policies support appropriate shelter capacity and affordable housing stock. 

• And ensure the efficient use of existing homeless prevention resources and explore ways to enhance the coordination, utilization and efficacy of prevention resources.

“Goal 3 included three milestones pertaining to an emergency shelter: Identify resources to increase shelter beds and increase the city’s affordable housing stock, identify underutilized city, county and state-owned property that may be used for the development of affordable housing and enhancement of existing crisis and bridge housing programs and facilitate, with nonprofit partners, the development of 100 very low income housing beds on one site or multiple sites across the city for emergency shelter, bridge housing and permanent supportive housing,” Delong said.

She noted that in January 2019, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority reported 232 homeless persons in Whittier not residing in shelters.

In November 2019, City Net, a nonprofit organization to aid the homeless, performed a census specifically of homeless individuals in the city of Whittier and found 231 individuals who were experiencing homelessness and not in transitional or cold weather shelters.”

In April, the City Council agreed to intervene in a federal lawsuit involving the Orange County Catholic Workers.

To avoid protracted litigation, the city agreed to construct a navigation center to serve up to 60% of the number of persons experiencing homelessness in Whittier as identified in the 2019 count.

Under the terms of the settlement, once the navigation center is operational, the city will resume enforcement of park curfew, anti-camping and other quality-of-life ordinances.

Delong said the Salvation Army has extensive experience operating large-scale shelters including a 500-bed shelter in Bell, operates emergency and transitional shelters for 150 families in the region and has developed permanent supportive housing in the area.

The Salvation Army alread is an approved partner of the homeless services authority, has created pop-up shelters in as little as 48 hours and is already an authorized provider with access to the homeless management information system implemented in Los Angeles County.

Wave Staff Report