A man on a bicycle chooses to ride on the service path, avoiding the homeless encampment in Orange. (Photo by Ken Steinhardt, Orange County Register/SCNG file)
A little more than a month after the Anaheim officials declared the city’s homeless situation a state of emergency, they are still in search of a crucial tool to address it: money.
But the city won’t be asking tourism and hotel officials to revisit deals with the city to help fund homeless programs and services.
The City Council rejected that option, proposed by Councilman Jose Moreno, after a heated discussion and two split votes on Tuesday, Oct. 24.
Moreno had suggested asking the Anaheim Tourism Improvement District to cover the ARTIC station’s budget deficit, which would free up city money for homeless solutions. He also hoped to approach several hoteliers about renegotiating tax incentives the city promised to lure luxury hotels.
Moreno said at the meeting he supported the emergency declaration and Councilwoman Kris Murray’s initiative to address it. But because the plan had no funding, “That means asking all of our partners to consider contributing to this effort,” Moreno said.
Murray shot down the proposal, calling it politically motivated and saying it wasn’t viable.
The transportation district’s money is earmarked for transportation projects, she said, and the hotel tax deals won’t yield any money until the planned hotels are built and operating several years from now.
Although new funding for homeless programs remains an unanswered question, the city has made progress on Murray’s plan. A city report said officials have met with Orange County and other local agencies about collaborating on law enforcement and how best to provide mental health and social services, and they hope to speed up the opening of additional beds at Bridges at Kraemer Place, a year-round emergency shelter that opened earlier this year.