The City of Lake Forest has adopted a multi-pronged approach to homelessness to ensure the rights and dignity of those experiencing homelessness as well as the safety and comfort of residents and business owners. Those who need to access City resources related to homelessness should:
Remember, homelessness is not a crime. The law does not prevent individuals from sitting, laying or sleeping in public if no existing shelter bed is available. In Martin verus City of Boise (9th Circle 2018) 902 F.3d 1031, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause of the Eighth Amendment precludes the enforcement of a statute or ordinance prohibiting sleeping outside against homeless individuals with no access to a shelter. The Court ruled, "So long as there is a greater number of homeless individuals in (a jurisdiction) than the number of available beds (in shelters), the jurisdiction cannot prosecute homeless individuals for involuntarily sitting, lying, and sleeping in public."
While some programs are available to help those experiencing homelessness, it often takes time to gain the trust of individuals to learn enough information about them to find an appropriate program, or to help them to enter a program. The City employs a full-time Sheriff's Deputy as a Homeless Liaison Officer and contracts with the nonprofit Mercy Housing to help those experiencing homelessness get off the streets.
Through its Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, Lake Forest partners with nonprofit organizations that assist at-risk families and those experiencing homelessness. Our partners include:
Families Forward: Families Forward provides assistance through housing, food, counseling, education and other support services. In 2017, Families Forward assisted 167 households and 582 individuals with homeless-prevention services, which can include rental subsidies, case management, a food pantry, life-skills workshops and transitional housing units, some of which are located in Lake Forest.
Family Assistance Ministries: Family Assistance Ministries provides food, supportive counsel, rental-assistance programs, an interim shelter for homeless single women and mothers with children, Permanent Supportive Housing and Rapid Re-housing Programs.
South County Outreach: South County Outreach (SCO) helps those in crisis reach self-sufficiency by providing food, rental and utility assistance, homeless prevention counseling, housing, computer training, clothing and other seasonal programs. SCO offers a food pantry in Irvine and rapid re-housing as well as transitional re-housing, including 11 condominiums in Lake Forest that serve homeless families with minor children. South County Outreach assisted 1,458 Lake Forest residents in 2017, which included 132 calls to prevent eviction.
Affordable Housing Program: Lake Forest has more than 500 affordable units, including 187 apartments in Baker Ranch. In Portola Hills, construction will begin on a 56-unit affordable complex for seniors, and 18 additional affordable units will be built with the new homes. The City also has an agreement with with National Community Renaissance that dedicated $3.76 million in-lieu of housing fees to build affordable housing in Lake Forest.