By Eric Heinz

As the issues of homelessness continue to penetrate the airwaves and Ethernet cables, Family Assistance Ministries (FAM) Executive Director Mary Gary Perdue said she wants people to understand what the nonprofit does and does not do.

The main mission of FAM, which is a nonprofit, is to prevent people from becoming homeless or try to help people who are homeless into an affordable living situation. A lot of the people the nonprofit houses are families and single parents who are sometimes the most vulnerable.

Various groups joined the Family Assistance Ministries 30th annual Hunger Walk at the San Clemente Community Center on Oct. 15. Photo: Eric Heinz
Various groups joined the Family Assistance Ministries 30th annual Hunger Walk at the San Clemente Community Center on Oct. 15. Photo: Eric Heinz

FAM has assessed 168 homeless in San Clemente since November 2015, according to numbers from FAM. Their average stay in San Clemente is about a year and a half until they can move on.

FAM also provides food to people who need it for their families and there is an allocation for how much a family is able to use.

“We no longer give out food that used to be cooked for the population,” Perdue said. “They used to but it was different and things have changed. The numbers have increased that they can’t safely provide the food.”

It’s not just a bailout, however. People are given a six-month window to try to help themselves or FAM must refer them to other services. They also work with 2-1-1 OC and Homeward Bound, which helps reunite homeless people with their family.

Although the nonprofit doesn’t take food directly to someone, there have been wide criticisms from people on social media about food making its way to North Beach and other heavily populated areas with homeless people.

One man at the Beaches, Parks and Recreation commission on Monday who spoke during public comment said there has been a letter circulating from social media regarding a list of requests for charities within the city.

Kelly Chapman said it is imperative that people understand that he and those who support the letter do not want people to miss a meal. But they’re also concerned about food being given out at North Beach, creating a sense of permanence for the homeless population that’s been frequenting the area.

“We just ask that people who might be distributing food that the charity only distribute for the family and themselves, not handing off food to others,” Chapman said. “We don’t want anyone missing a meal.”

There are still details to be hashed out regarding funding for programs for the homeless in Orange County and San Clemente. Currently there’s a housing bill in the state Senate that would fund a great portion of needed housing, but charities in the area are still primarily used for food and other housing needs.

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comments (6)

  • Eric Heinz please do an article that shows pictures taken by drones and residents showing people taking food from FAM and taking them back into their encampments in the San Clemente Hills. There are pictures of people taking food from FAM and then dropping them off at the North Beach Area. Please do an article that correctly depicts the enabling situation at North Beach and surrounding areas.

  • Eric Heinz, please do an article that truly depicts the problem with vagrants and FAM. Residents have taken pictures, filmed, documented, reported to OCSD, and spoken at city council meetings regarding these encampments and feedings by FAM at the North Beach Area and surrounding hills. There are pictures and video of people picking up food at FAM and dropping this food at the North Beach Area. Also, there has been evidence of people cooking in the canyons and they have found propane tanks. This is a serious issue because fires can result and can cause serious fires and destroy entire communities. There are pictures of people picking up food from FAM and taking food to their encampments in the hills. Also there are other foundations that do provide cooked meals in their centers. The Director of FAM is aware of this and safety in our community is not a concern. However, safety is a concern for many residents in San Clemente regarding the crimes being committed in the North Beach area and surrounding areas.

  • this same problem exists at doheny state beach where these charity’s concentrate these problems of homelessness ,, if they continue i must advise they hand out the job adds at the same time and suspend the food service now and again to drive these people to employment ? its tough to go a day with out food but its not fatal and top roman costs less than beer

    thank you fam for all you do :::::(-:p

  • FAM initially sounded great in theory…before they started dropping food at north beach and giving out uncooked food for people to cook in their canyon encampments (fire hazard alert). There’s pictures and videos to prove this!!
    Mary Gray Perdue you are helping to enabling this towns homeless and drug users. What rules/requirements are needed to obtain free meals?? Drug testing and proof of job employment searches should be mandatory! Stop enabling these people and destroying our city in the meantime!!!!

  • FAM does do a lot of helpful and meaningful work in the communities. Unfortunately , there have been too many concerning incidents that need not only to be addressed but corrective action needs to take place.

    Food that citizens and grocers donate in the hopes help struggling families has being taken and used for North Beach feedings. It is also being taken to dangerous and illegal encampments in the canyons off of Pico. The business’s around FAM are littered with discarded food and packaging.

    It is my hope that FAM will take corrective action to end these concerning practices , so they can continue to focus on their good works and have continued community support and aid.

  • FAM is an important part of our community however allowing food to be delivered to the vagrants at North Beach as become an environmental issue of trash and human waste, allowing vagrants to take food that needs to be cooked in encampments is a fire hazard.

    FAM needs to be responsible when helping people in our community not to hurt the community with irresponsible behavior.

    Fam needs to review and replace polices the serve the entire community.

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