Kim Harris
Managing Editor

The city of Lake Elsinore is ramping up its efforts to combat the homelessness problem thanks to a new $1.5 million grant, city officials said.

The HEAP Grant awarded by the Homeless Emergency Aid Program will benefit those who are chronically homeless in the cities of Lake Elsinore and Wildomar as well as the surrounding Riverside County area by providing critical funding for enforcement, education, outreach and housing.

“This $1.5 million is going to serve as a catalyst to make a really difference in our community and for those who need help,” Nicole Dailey, assistant to the city manager of Lake Elsinore, said. “Overall it’s enhancing the efforts of what we have been already doing.”

According to Dailey, since receiving the grant, which has been effective since Aug. 1, the city has hired a part time housing and outreach specialist who will help administer and manage all components of the grant.

“That position will focus on housing opportunities and everything that comes with that. Lease agreements and landlord and housing options,” Dailey said. “She will be assisting with county operations to attend meetings for us to represent the city.”

Dailey said Lake Elsinore also approved an agreement with Social Work Action Group for $1 million, half of which will go toward additional street outreach services and other supportive services.

“That is going out into the streets and doing the typical outreach in the county areas surrounding the cities of Lake Elsinore and Wildomar as well as in the city of Wildomar,” she said.

Dailey explained that once the chronic homeless are off the street, SWAG would be able to check in on them, eventually helping them move into more permanent housing and overcoming their barriers so they can become more self-sustaining over the next year and a half.

“The other half of the SWAG money will be used for rental assistance, subsidies, deposits and landlord incentives,” Dailey explained. “The people we are helping will be responsible for entering into the agreements with the landlords since the city can’t do that so it will be used to help them to pay for those housing options.”

The city also hired another community services deputy who is responsible for making sure we implement enforcement across all those areas and working and coordinating with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department Homeless Outreach Team. Wildomar also has a community services deputy.

“We’ve been able to expand enforcement,” she said. “We have seen an increase in our ability to enforce and help those in need.”

Dailey said that one woman who had lived on the streets of Lake Elsinore for years is currently in housing thanks to the HEAP Grant and the efforts staff have put forth upon receiving it.

While the HEAP Grant is giving the city of Lake Elsinore a jump-start on addressing chronic homelessness, a recent lawsuit win against the state of California has allowed for the city to collect on more than $20 million that will help keep the programs running long after the HEAP Grant has been spent.

“The city did successfully win against the state to get some housing dollars back that we were protesting we deserved,” Dailey said. “That will allow us to come up with long-term solutions for those who are extremely low income to have options. We can only spend it on extremely low income persons but it will help us to come up with those long-term solutions.”

Dailey said that the city is trying to get as many people off the streets as possible over the next year and a half using the funds made available through the HEAPS Grant, the SWAG Agreement and the lawsuit against the state.

“Wildomar is really starting to ramp up, and Perris is taking a stronger stance too, enforcement wise,” Dailey said. “We are hoping to get this replicated throughout the area. We just have to keep going and come up with real solutions.” 

To be eligible for the HEAP Grants, the city, county or joint power must have declared an emergency shelter crisis and the continuum of care must demonstrate collaboration with other city, county or nonprofit partners.

Once the grants are awarded, the money can be used for emergency housing vouchers, rapid re-housing, emergency shelter construction and use of armories to provide temporary shelters among other activities.

For more information, on HEAPS Grants, visit www.bcsh.ca.gov/hcfc/aid_program.html.

For more information on SWAG and how to help, visit www.theswag.org/experience.

For more information on the city of Lake Elsinore’s efforts to combat homelessness, visit www.lake-elsinore.org/residents/homelessness-in-le/resources-for-the-homeless.

Kim Harris can be reached by email at valleyeditor@reedermedia.com.

KEYWORDS: Lake Elsinore, HEAP Grant, Homeless, Homelessness, SWAG