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Lillian Boyd, Dana Point Times
There are usually either two reasons for homelessness, says former Dana Point City Councilmember Paul Wyatt.
“There is either a behavioral issue, like drugs, alcohol or mental health issues, or, you don’t have enough money to rent a place to live,” Wyatt said. “With financial homelessness, you can’t just offer someone money to cover their rent for the month, because next month is right around the corner. The same problem will be there.”
Dana Point City Council and community leaders bid farewell and gave special recognition to the outgoing councilman as his four-year term concluded. One of his notable achievements, as mentioned throughout the evening, was his work on the Homeless Task Force and his further involvement in coordinating resources to prevent and reduce homelessness.
The task force, which Wyatt formerly headed, was created to work with neighboring cities, agencies and nonprofit organizations to provide sustainable services to the homeless community.
In September, Dana Point City Council approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the city and Orange County United Way for the purpose of providing financial literacy coaching and education, case management and wrap-around services to parents of R.H. Dana Elementary school and residents of Dana Point. The goal is for families to be equipped to overcome barriers to stable housing.
The partnership has been part of an ongoing effort for Wyatt to find ways to remediate underlying causes of homelessness—a feat that was acknowledged multiple times throughout the evening, during which Wyatt received rec
“I appreciate the resolutions and the plaques, but I’m on an advisory board. This council,” Wyatt said. “We take on a role to try and oversee and give direction. But without (staff), we’d just be up here talking.”
Wyatt acknowledged Assistant City Manager Kelley Reenders for her work with remedying homelessness in the city.
“All we’ve done is give guidance and direction,” Wyatt said. “And what (Reenders and staff) did was far better than any direction we gave them.”
Wyatt plans on continuing his work with the Orange County Commission to End Homelessness, as well the nonprofit organization 211OC, a group that aims to connect people with resources and Be Well OC, an organization that works to positively impact mental health in the region.
In closing remarks ahead of his departure, Wyatt advised to the council’s newcomers that they have the opportunity to provide hope to the community.
“We’re the only access to government that (people) feel is actually tangible and so being able to recognize that if they have any hope of feeling like they’re being listened to it has to come from this dais,” Wyatt said. “It’s an important role and I hope that as you are coming in, Mike and Michael, you embrace that fact… It’s up to you to pay attention.”
Councilmembers Mike Frost and Michael Villar were sworn in following Wyatt’s recognition.