Officials Speak Up on Homelessness Solutions

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Newport Beach Fire Department Assistant Chief Jeff Boyles introduces Wednesday’s Speak Up Newport speakers: (left to right) Orange County Healthcare Agency mental health specialist Kathleen Peterson, Orange County Health Care Agency representative Jennifer Dinicola, Newport Beach Police Department Homeless Liaison Officer Tony Yim, and City Net nonprofit representative Matt Bates.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©

Part two of Speak Up Newport’s program on homelessness focused on how different agencies are working on solutions.

About 125 people crowded into the community room at the Newport Beach Civic Center to hear the discussion.

Speakers for the event included Newport Beach Police Department Homeless Liaison Officer Tony Yim; Orange County Health Care Agency, Behavioral Health Navigation, Innovation and Training Outreach and Engagement representative Jennifer Dinicola; City Net nonprofit representative Matt Bates; and mental health specialist with Orange County Healthcare Agency Kathleen Peterson.

Yim’s job includes meeting with homeless, hearing their stories, and working on a solution with each individual.

His first goal is housing, Yim said.

“Anything in between is icing on the cake,” Yim added.

It’s more cost effective to house the homeless than to continue to have them go without shelter in a community, Bates noted.

Yim also emphasized that it’s their choice to get and accept help.

Drugs, family breakdown, and mental health issues are all factors of homelessness, Bates said, the root cause is economic. The solution is also economic, he added.

The solution includes pairing and balancing outreach and enforcement, Bates said.

There is a shortage of housing, Yim pointed out, but his aim is to work with the person on the solution.

Dinicola’s group works with homeless or those who are at risk of becoming homeless. Last year they had more than 30,000 contacts with people, she noted.

Depending on the definition, that also includes those living in their cars or in temporary housing.

A homeless man on the street. The city of Newport Beach and the county of Orange are working on solving the homelessness issue, which is what former City Manager Dave Kiff, now the interim CEO of Association of California Cities-Orange County, spoke about at Thursday’s Corona del Mar Residents Association meeting.
— Photo credit: Pixabay
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