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By Eric Heinz
During its meeting Tuesday, July 24, City Council voted to contract with Mercy House, a homeless outreach organization that is already working with Family Assistance Ministries (FAM) in San Clemente, for their services.
The contract was for $75,000, which the organization will use to “develop relationships” and begin a list of chronically homeless people in San Clemente.
Dana Point recently contracted with Mercy House through a recommendation of its homeless task force.
Stephani Ogas, the outreach coordinator for Mercy House, said they will create a database of the homeless population to help the city to provide permanent supportive housing and rapid rehousing. They also will provide temporary financial and social services as well as a public health nurse to get clients linked to transportation for substance abuse treatment and mental health programs.
“Mercy House is a proven partner in this, and if they need to get someone into a home and store their stuff for them, that’s something that San Clemente doesn’t have,” Councilmember Kathy Ward said during the contract hearing. “They don’t feed them, but they do outreach.”
Speakers at recent public meetings have been skeptical of the food services that FAM provides, alleging that the nonprofit is enabling the homeless to stay in their occupied areas by providing such resources. In a recent San Clemente Times interview with FAM executive director Mary Perdue, she said FAM does not go out to give food to the homeless. But that doesn’t stop people from taking that food to those locations, other public speakers alleged, and they provided their own footage of what they claim are people taking the food from FAM heaquarters to the homeless.
Mercy House is to provide outreach services six days a week in San Clemente.
As reiterated by the City Council in public comment, the homeless people Mercy House does reach out to can refuse the services, as is their constitutional right.
Turn to page 10 to read about encampments and local residents who are trying to take action to help the homeless and get them out of the canyons and open space in San Clemente. FAM is hosting a benefit concert at San Clemente Presbyterian Church, located at 119 Avenida de la Estrella San Clemente, featuring Jeff Harnar. The concert is from 4-6 p.m. on Saturday, July 28. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at http://bit.ly/FAMconcert or call 949.492.8477.