Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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Q:  What factors lead to homelessness?
A:  People may become homeless due to lack of affordable housing, decreased employment opportunities, lack of affordable health care, mental illness, or substance abuse. While some Costa Mesa residents lose their housing and become homeless, homeless individuals also migrate to the city for a variety of reasons.

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Q:  What is the City's general approach in addressing homelessness?
A:  The City believes in a balanced approach of offering focused assistance to homeless individuals who have been residents in Costa Mesa, and/or referring newly arrived individuals to other services outside of the City as well as possible reconnections to their community of origin. To read more about the City of Costa Mesa's approach in addressing homelessness, click here.

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Q:  Who is a Costa Mesa homeless resident?
A:  A Costa Mesa homeless resident is an individual who has lived and made strong ties in Costa Mesa. The full definition can be found here.

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Q:  What is the City doing to establish partnerships with other agencies to reduce homelessness?
A:  The City has consistently sought and directed various federal, state, local and private funding sources in order to continue to assist Costa Mesa homeless residents find affordable housing. Aside from relying on federal grants for rapid rehousing and homeless prevention assistance, it has identified various private and nonprofit organizations with whom it has linked homeless individuals and has supported various nonprofit groups in the federal and county Continuum of Care grant process.

In 2014, City community outreach workers placed 41 Costa Mesa homeless residents into both temporary and permanent housing while community volunteers assisted over 10 individuals end their homelessness.

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Q:    What other steps are being taken to assist people in moving off the streets?
A:     The City has funded a team of community outreach workers who have formed partnerships with local churches, nonprofit groups, and Orange County mental health personnel in an effort to create a coordinated system of mental health services for Costa Mesa homeless residents.

Integrating mental health outreach and law enforcement with a legal strategy designed to assist those seeking mental health services and housing while prosecuting chronic offenders who are resistant to help.
Centralizing homeless coordination including establishment of a comprehensive data management information system (DMIS) similar to the Continuum of Care Homeless Management Information System (HMIS), which is used to collect client-level data on the provision of housing and services to homeless individuals and those at risk of homelessness.

This data forms the basis of a “social service” registry in order to prioritize clients with both in-house community outreach workers as well as nonprofit agencies receiving CDBG public service funds.

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Q:    Are there shelters where the homeless can go?
A:    The County of Orange provides emergency shelter at armories in both Fullerton and Santa Ana during the winter months. The Santa Ana Armory is located at 612 E. Warner Ave. The Fullerton shelter is located at 400 S. Brookhurst St.

Contact Information:
Armory Emergency Shelter Information: (714) 836-7188 ext. 131
James Brooks: (714) 836-7188 ext. 107 jamesb@mercyhouse.net
Austin Drissen: (714) 836-7188 ext. 105 austind@mercyhouse.net

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Q:    What can I do if I see homeless individuals sleeping on private property?
A.    Enforcement of loitering laws is a complex process. If you notice threatening and/or criminal behavior, feel free to call the Costa Mesa Police Department at (714) 754-5252. Alternately, please feel free to call the Network for Homeless Solutions Hotline at (714) 754-4977 and we will respond within 24 hours.

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Q:    What if someone is trespassing on my property?
A.    The legal definition of trespassing can be confusing. If you notice threatening and/or criminal behavior, feel free to call the Costa Mesa Police Department at (714) 754-5252. Click here to view our page on trespassing.

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Q:    Is camping allowed in city parks?
A:    Costa Mesa Municipal Code Chapter XIV, "Camping and Storage of Personal Property in Public Areas," states that it is unlawful to camp, occupy camp facilities, or use camp paraphernalia in the street or alley, public parking lot or public area or park.

Section 11-302 defines camp, camp facilities, and camp paraphernalia. Camp means to pitch or occupy camp facilities or to use camp paraphernalia. Camp facilities include, tents, huts or temporary shelters. Camp paraphernalia includes tarpaulins, cots, beds, sleeping bags, hammocks or non-city designated cooking facilities or similar equipment. A person in the park may have several items with them, including bags, a cart and a sleeping bag, but unless they are (1) Pitching or occupying a tent, hut or temporary shelter, OR (2) Occupying a tarpaulin, a cot, a bed, a sleeping bag, hammock OR (3) Using a non-city designated cooking facility or similar equipment, that person is not in violation of the city’s camping ordinance. In other words, mere possession of camping equipment does not constitute camping.

A violation of the city’s camping ordinance requires that a person pitch or occupy a tent, hut, or temporary shelter or sleep in a sleeping bag, cot, hammock or use a non-city designated cooking facility. People picnicking in the park does not constitute camping. However, if they are engaged in any of the above mentioned activities and/or are sleeping there at night, please contact either the NHS or the Police Department.

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Q:     What is the definition of "abandoned property?" How long is property stored?
A:     Costa Mesa Municipal Code Section 11-302 defines abandoned personal property that the owner surrenders, relinquishes or disclaims. Indicators of abandoned property includes, but is not limited by, personal property left on private real property of for any period of time without the permission of the real property owner or tenant.

Pursuant to Section 11-306, storage of personal property in public areas is prohibited. Any personal property left in any public park at the time the park is closed, whether the personal property is unattended, shall be immediately impounded. The police chief shall make provisions for receiving and safekeeping of personal property found unattended. Found personal property shall be deposited in a safe place for a period of at least ninety (90) days, unless sooner claimed by the true owner.

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Q:  Where can I safely store my property if I’m homeless?
A:  The Check-in Center at the Crossing Church. The Crossing describes it as “a safe place [for individuals] to check-in their belongings, allowing them to travel, attend interviews or appointments, prevent theft or damage to personal belongings and ease health issues from transporting belongings.”

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Q:  Does the City offer any type of housing or shelter for homeless individuals?
A:  The City can work with Costa Mesa residents who are committed to reintegrating themselves into society to find long-term housing. However, the City does not have any short-term housing that it can offer.

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Q:  If I’m a homeless resident of Costa Mesa, how can I get help?
A:  Visit the Getting Help for Costa Mesa Resident page for more details. You can also browse the resource page for contact information to resources that may be helpful to your situation. Individuals looking for additional help may contact the NHS hotline at (714) 754-4977.