Editorial: Loss of day services to homeless will hurt

October 06, 2011

The Laguna Beach City Council was forced to swallow a bitter pill Tuesday night.

Instead of being paid to allow volunteers to help the homeless during daytime hours at the Alternative Sleeping Location, the city will now have to pay for extra services to allow people to shower and gather themselves up to spend another day on the streets.

The Laguna Relief and Resource Center decided it simply couldn't keep paying "rent" to the city for use of the Laguna Canyon Road site where "local homeless" are required to spend the night or face a citation.


For the past year and a half, the center had been paying the city a total of $1,000 a month, and providing volunteer drivers to ferry the homeless from downtown to the ASL, as well as giving the homeless shelter, food and services during daylight hours. This was hugely beneficial to the community as well as the homeless.

Last month, the center decided it could no longer pay for the privilege of being daytime homeless service providers, and the council decided it had no option but to pay another organization, the Friendship Shelter, to pick up the slack, for two hours a day. Instead of being open from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. Monday through Friday, the ASL will be open until 10 a.m. on those days. It is already open until 10 a.m. on weekends.

The center kept the ASL doors open until at least 2 p.m. on weekdays, and the loss of daytime shelter will undoubtedly affect the homeless who relied on it for respite from the city's streets and assistance in many other ways.

The center provided paid staff services as well as caring volunteers who took on the problems of homeless individuals as if they were members of their own family. We know that many of these volunteers will continue this work because they are very dedicated. But it is a shame that the city could not fund the daytime services as it does the nighttime shelter and keep these services in place.

The center will continue to operate the city's only food bank — for which it pays rent to the city, thereby reducing the city's burden for helping the needy. And, as center officials point out, they will continue to be the "lead agency" in relief for residents in case of flood, wildfire or other natural disasters.

The Laguna Relief and Resource Center deserves a huge thank you for its dedicated service to a population that is not easy to serve.

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