There is an issue that is constantly occurring in our community, which are homeless people. Lately, there have been more of them crowding and hanging around the libraries, especially Costa Mesa. Costa Mesa is a county supported library with fewer resources compared to a city supported library such as Newport Beach. Costa Mesa Library is not pushing away the homeless as much as Newport Beach. Orange County currently has 30,000 homeless people today and that is not an accurate statistic. This trend has progressively gotten worse over the years and it is not getting any better. Not every homeless person you see on the street is a drug abuser or mentally ill. Some have been affected severely from our recession. The issue that is going on is the homeless is scaring many of the adults and parents of children away from the library. They have been coming more and more with other groups of bums to sit around outside or in the library. The reason this has gotten worse is because the city has enforced strict rules for homeless to stay out of the parks.
The Orange County Register posted an article that says, the city grapples with its homeless people, city leaders are rolling out laws intended to make Costa Mesa less comfortable for them, especially people from outside the city limits. They are trying to satisfy residents who complain that the homeless overrun public spaces and make it uncomfortable to bring a family to parks or libraries. There is not much of a place for them to go now but to come during the day to the library. This is a problem because the library has been getting fewer children and adults than they have had from the past. The Crossing Church in Costa Mesa has a check in center for all of their belongings and a Laundry & shower facility to help out homeless people. This has started a few years ago, but this helps out with not bothering other citizens coming to use the library as much. It is making it less intimidating for people to come to the facility and not see homeless showing up with trash bags and sleeping bags.
Also if someone feels offended by a foul odor from one of the homeless people, the librarian can send the person to the church center for a shower before they can come back. They have luckily started something to help them out and comfort the citizens which will bring the people back to use the library. The next plan would be to create some workshops for the homeless and children. This can bring more children back to the library. They have a few story time classes that they offer. Maybe having some kind of movie time would be fine for the children. But we can go further and make even more classes for a group like the homeless. Have workshops to help them look for jobs and how to build your resume kind of classes. Get them involved so they do not have to stand around with nothing to do. This will keep them from getting in trouble and disrupting the others with their children.
A further project in the future which will take time and effort to get started is creating a shelter for the homeless to sleep. They have places for them to eat, take a shower and put their belongings, but no placed for the homeless to stay the night in Costa Mesa. This is a work and progress but it will happen when the time is right. There will need to be some boundaries for them to stay there. They have to participate in some of the workshops and help out with some volunteering jobs. This will get them back on their feet, but keep them from staying around and wasting their time trying to do nothing. This would have to be a requirement in order to qualify for a place to stay in the shelter. These are all goals, but they can happen. They have these services in other parts of the country, with work and effort it can happen. Time line
As of October 2012, the project is in progress to create a shelter for homeless people where they can sleep. By January of 2013, we are getting approval for the city of Costa Mesa to help with funding for this project. By the March 2013, we will start building the shelter.
By November of 2013, we are predicting for the shelter to be done building. In January 2014, the library will get some funding to create some more classes for children, adults, and even for the group of homeless people.