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Steve Stewart, Dana Point

As an iHope board member, and on behalf of the entire iHope board, I am responding to comments made at the Dana Point City Council meeting April 16, as reported in the Dana Point Times. Certain comments made by city staff about iHOPE were in error. The record needs to be corrected.

Speakers, representing several nonprofit groups and faith communities in the area, cited the recent death of homeless woman, Brandy Fox, in their plea for assistance from the City in establishing a viable cold weather shelter similar to the one at Capo Beach Church several years earlier. Ms. Fox used the shelter when it was open, and since neither drugs nor alcohol were allowed, it was suggested that she would not have been drinking the night she died had the shelter been available to her.

City staff responded by alleging that violent acts had taken place in the shelter and that an iHOPE client had recently been arrested for grand theft and had other felonies on his record.

The official was quoted in the press saying, “So one of the things we would like to do is ask iHOPE to be very careful as they screen their clients.”

We would like to set the record straight:

• First, police reports show that no violent acts took place at the Capistrano Beach shelter during shelter hours.

• Secondly, the person arrested was not an iHOPE client. He appeared at the center once, but never agreed to the intake process (iHOPE’s initial screening). He, therefore, did not receive any services from iHOPE.

iHOPE and other advocates for the homeless want to work with Dana Point police and other city staff. At that meeting, iHOPE offered to support an overnight shelter with case management services during the day.

The Welcome INN continues to provide food and iHOPE runs a weekly shower service in Capo Beach. However, as long as the homeless have no place to sleep during inclement weather, people will continue to die from exposure.

Homeless advocates would like to partner with the city of Dana Point and would like to hear that the city council is interested in engaging with us to accomplish solutions.

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