Lake Elsinore’s homeless task force paves the way for Riverside County

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Jeremiah Tatola, Writer

The Lake Elsinore Homeless Task Force, founded in June 2017, seeks to address the increasing homeless population within the city, providing aid and housing to those in need throughout bordering communities.

“A Hand Up, Not a Hand out” is the tagline associated with the organization.

Nicole Dailey, Lake Elsinore’s assistant city manager and head of the Homeless Task Force, explained the mantra as “Responsible Compassion.”

“We’ve taken a very proactive and aggressive approach to homelessness in our community. Part of that is we truly do want to help individuals, but we are going to enforce the law,” Daily said.

Through a plethora of community relationships, the Homeless Task Force launched the Community Outreach Coalition involving law enforcement, the Social Work Action Group and Housing and Outreach specialists to provide responsible compassion to the homeless community.

In December 2019, an eight-bedroom home in Perris, now known as the “Perris House,” was leased and converted into a crisis stabilization home for homeless individuals within Lake Elsinore and surrounding communities.

Six beds are available to selected individuals who the city deems stable enough to take their next steps off the streets and into lives as productive community members.

Another six beds have since been secured at the Elsinore Hot Springs and Lodge offering immediate housing, 24/7, if available.

Boasting statistical evidence comparing Lake Elsinore’s homeless count decreasing by 33% since 2018 as opposed to the rest of Riverside County’s rising 28%, Lake Elsinore approved the purchase of a gated motel at 215 W. Graham Ave. consisting of 32 beds, a meeting hall and recreational facilities such as a pool and barbecue/picnic area, for $2.25 million June 24, 2020.

These social services have been made possible through a $1.5 million Homeless Emergency Aid Program grant, awarded to the city in August 2018 as well as state affordable housing development funding.

According to Dailey, “The city was able to secure over $27 million in housing funds from the state this last year. Our HEAP grant expires in June of next year and so how can we maximize this investment?”

Dailey and the task force plan to maximize the grant funds by working with developers and city officials to incorporate other community assets and amenities.

Dailey said she is optimistic for the future of the city and its homeless population.

“I truly believe if we have the support of our community, we can successfully have a functional zero homeless population in Lake Elsinore,” she said.

The task force’s aspirations are to have all the resources they need in order to see this goal of no homeless individuals in the community come to fruition.

“What that means is we have a bed for every homeless person on our streets, and that we’re able to serve them,” Dailey said.

The Homeless Task Force is working on a campaign called “LE Gives” to give individuals a chance to be involved however, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many efforts and events have been postponed.

For more information, visit http://responsiblecompassion.org or contact Nicole Dailey at ndailey@lake_elsinore.org.

Jeremiah Tatola can be reached by email at valleystaff@reedermedia.com.