EDITORIAL: Costa Mesa takes smart step toward ending homelessness

Mesa Motel, located on Harbor Boulevard in Costa Mesa, is a proposed site for Project Homekey, which houses the homeless in motels. 

The Costa Mesa City Council agreed to spend $3.5 million to convert two Costa Mesa motels into permanent housing. The funds will be given to the two projects if the city is awarded a grant from the state’s Project Homekey

Project Homekey awards state funds to projects that transform existing hotels, motels, homes and multifamily apartments into permanent housing for individuals experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness.

Officials hope to acquire the Mesa Motel on Harbor Boulevard and the Motel 6 on Newport Boulevard for the project. Both motels are just over a mile away from the Orange Coast College campus.

The two projects will convert the motels into 140 residential units, with 54 of the units being used as low-income housing for seniors 62 and older, and the remaining 96 being used as permanent housing for at-risk or currently homeless persons. 

The Coast Report Editorial Board applauds the city on this decision and encourages the City Council to do all in its power to ensure the projects come to fruition. 

Homelessness is a major nationwide problem, but it is more severe in California. From 2018-2019, prior to the pandemic, homelessness in California increased by 16%. That same year, the national rate of homelessness outside of the state decreased by 1.6%. While the rest of the nation was making progress, California’s homelessness crisis got worse. 

California and New York have some of the highest rates of homelessness in the country, with 41 and 47 homeless individuals per 10,000, respectively. If the statistics are so similar, why does the homelessness crisis seem so much worse in California? Because New York provides shelter for nearly 95% of their homeless population, while California shelters only 30%.

 

California’s homelessness crisis is so acute because state and local governments are failing our homeless neighbors. Politicians in California talk about homelessness incessantly. They promise solutions, but too often the solutions fall short.

In 2015, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti declared a war on homelessness. His actions make it seem like he declared war on the homeless. In March, Garcetti held a press conference to celebrate police violently clearing a large homeless encampment in Echo Park. While 180 of the encampment’s residents were given temporary shelter at local motels, many were simply displaced. In July, Garcetti signed a bill into law that essentially criminalized homelessness

These are not effective ways to fight homelessness, but there are proven and time-tested solutions to the problem. Study after study has shown that the best and most cost-effective solution to homelessness is permanent housing.

The City of Costa Mesa is taking its first steps towards ending homelessness. In a county that all too often fails its homeless residents, it’s nice to see our city heading in the right direction. 

 

The Coast Report Editorial Board consists of the editor in chief and section editors. One member of the editorial board writes the editorial and this rotates throughout the semester. 

Editorial topics are pitched by all members of the board and a single topic is selected for each editorial. Each editorial board member votes on their position on the selected topic and the majority position becomes that of the editorial. In the event of a tie on the first vote, editorial board members engage in continued discussion and state the reasons for their initial vote. A second vote is then taken and the majority position becomes that of the editorial. In the event of a second tied vote, the editorial position will be decided at the discretion of the editor in chief.

For this editorial, the board vote on the issue resulted in a 6-0 majority of the board voting “yes” to the question "Should Costa Mesa allow local motels to house homeless residents?" Coast Report publishes voting results to promote transparency.   

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