Kris Murray: Declare Citywide State of Emergency In Anaheim To Deal With Homeless Crisis

Residents, businesses, and visitors to Anaheim are witnessing an escalating crisis dramatically affecting our neighborhoods and recreation areas. As city leaders, we have heard from residents and advocates alike from all over the city. And those voices are growing louder.

The time for action is NOW. Our residents are demanding action and they deserve our assurance that their neighborhoods are safe and their families are secure. We are compassionate to those living in homelessness and we must take swift action to address this escalating human health crisis. Providing amenities along the riverbed that create a sense permanency to these encampments is not the answer.

Our message must be clear:

• Those who want help will get it;
• Those who refuse help must leave;
• Our laws will be enforced;
• The health and safety of all our residents will be protected.

It is not compassionate to enable this way of life – we should be working together to find housing and services for those who seek it. And it is past time to end the crime and drug-use in our parks and trails. Together, we can practice courageous leadership to serve the vulnerable and give our parks and public spaces back to the people of Anaheim.

At last night’s council meeting, I called for a complete package of services and action to come back in two weeks time. Operation Home Safe would include declaring a citywide State of Emergency to address the escalating human crisis in Anaheim and activate a wide variety of additional services.

A State of Emergency

Councilwoman Kris Murray

At last night’s council meeting, I requested Operation Home Safe come back in two weeks to address the escalating human health crisis in Anaheim — particularly along the county riverbed. In the past year, the encampments have grown and a sense of permanence has taken root. There is ongoing criminal activity, drug use, prostitution, and disease that is putting those who live in these encampments and those who live nearby at increasing risk.

Operation Home Safe would declare a state of emergency in our city and will provide comprehensive services and aid to the homeless population in our area, as well as concurrent expansion of local enforcement of the riverbed and public spaces to eliminate the health and safety risks to all Anaheim and county residents. I’ve asked for this program to be considered for approval at our next council meeting on September 12, 2017 with implementation to take place within 30 days following that date.

Operation Home Safe, if approved by council, will include the following:

Support: Build on successful collaboration with County of Orange, CityNet, neighboring city partners, and all social service agencies, local volunteers, faith-based, non-profit, and business groups to provide comprehensive assistance and shelter to those living in the riverbed or in the public right-of-way.

Aid: Provide notice to individuals camped illegally, indicating that aid will be provided for those who desire assistance with the goal of helping every homeless individual find permanent housing or shelter and ongoing service assistance depending on their individual needs.

Fair warning: Upon the noticed deadline, City will enforce an immediate cease and desist order with the support of county and city law enforcement agencies to ensure the safety and security of the riverbed and public spaces for all residents.

Enforcement: Lastly, the City of Anaheim, working collaboratively with county and neighboring city officials, will take jurisdiction and assist with the expense and enforcement to end criminal activity in the riverbed and open spaces that border the city.

Neighbors Coming Together
To make this happen, we need EVERYONE in Anaheim working together. Residents who are concerned about the state of our neighborhoods, public parks and river trails, please make your voices heard.

Please, send a letter, or email the Mayor and City Council at council@anaheim.net or come to the council meeting on September 12th.

By providing comprehensive and restorative services to the homeless, with concurrent enforcement of all health and safety laws, together we can reclaim the riverbed and surrounding neighborhoods for all residents in Anaheim and Orange County.

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