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Homeless housing proposed for site in Laguna Canyon

Friendship Shelter is working with developer on 40-unit apartment complex.

March 27, 2014|By Bryce Alderton

Survey stakes went up earlier this week in Laguna Canyon for a proposed two-story building that would house the chronically homeless on a permanent basis.

Friendship Shelter, a Laguna Beach agency whose aim is to help homeless adults achieve self-sufficiency, and Irvine-based Jamboree Housing Corp. are working on a proposal to build a 40-unit apartment complex at a city-owned plot between the Pacific Marine Mammal Center and the dog park.

Proponents will present their plan at the City Council meeting April 22, but offered details during a conference call with the media Tuesday.

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"We want to have a transparent, honest communication with the community," said Dawn Price, Friendship Shelter executive director.

Eligible clients must have been homeless for a year or longer, or homeless four times in the past three years, and have a mental or physical disability or a substance-abuse problem, according to the Friends of Supportive Housing website, which was developed by Jamboree and Friendship Shelter staff.

Clients would pay about one-third of their monthly income in rent. The money is expected to come from disability benefits.

Rent payments would average $200 to $300, said Helen Cameron, who in 1985 founded H.O.M.E.S. Inc., Orange County's first provider of permanent housing that offered support services. Cameron is now special-needs resident manager for Jamboree, which merged with H.O.M.E.S. and developed affordable homes in 67 California cities.

Jamboree also oversees Alice Court, a 27-unit apartment complex on Glenneyre Street in Laguna Beach.

"Our experience leads us to think it's an economical model," Cameron said. "We have a 98% success rate in keeping people housed. It's taking someone who might live under a tree and placing them in permanent supportive housing to keep them stable."

Clients who qualify for this program cannot live independently without ongoing support services, and must also meet state and federal requirements. The program would ideally cater to Laguna Beach homeless, but it's possible people from other cities would be accepted.

The project cost is estimated at $11 million, Jamboree senior project manager Vicky Ramirez wrote in an email.

Funding will come from private investors, along with federal, state and county agencies that support similar types of affordable housing, Ramirez said.

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