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By Shawn Raymundo
The nonprofit group Mercy House has been tapped by the city to provide homeless outreach services in San Clemente over the coming weeks, while city officials reportedly enter the final phase of hiring a full-time community outreach coordinator.
During a routine “Homelessness Update” to the city council this week, City Manager Erik Sund said a two-person team of case workers from Mercy House has been assigned to San Clemente to coordinate services with the city’s homeless.
For 20 hours a week, the case workers will be on the ground providing outreach services. The agreement is only temporary, Sund explained, as it falls under his $25,000 spending authority, which is enough to cover the next three months, if necessary.
San Clemente has been without an official homeless services contractor since early March, when the council voted not to extend City Net’s contract for another month while the hiring process for an in-house coordinator continued.
City Net, another homeless advocacy nonprofit in Orange County, was initially contracted by the city in December 2019. Prior to that, Mercy House had been the city’s homeless outreach contractor.
The announcement comes as the city this week completed the final round of interviews with candidates looking to take on the full-time coordinator position, according to Sund. The individual will be tasked with working alongside San Clemente’s code compliance team and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department’s homeless outreach unit.
Ideal candidates, city officials have previously stated, will have experience in interviewing and counseling, and should be knowledgeable of community resources and social service programs for the homeless, namely, the county’s Continuum of Care program— a regional or planning body that coordinates housing, services and funding for homeless families and individuals.
“I anticipate a decision will be made relatively soon from an offer standpoint,” Sund told the council on Tuesday, May 4.
Back in December, the council voted to direct more than $103,000 in federal COVID-relief funding to create the position. According to the city, those funds, which come from Community Development Block Grants under the CARES Act, will pay for the position for one year.
Shawn Raymundo is the city editor for the San Clemente Times. He graduated from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in Global Studies. Before joining Picket Fence Media, he worked as the government accountability reporter for the Pacific Daily News in the U.S. territory of Guam. Follow him on Twitter @ShawnzyTsunami and follow San Clemente Times @SCTimesNews.