Murrieta City Council discusses homelessness within the city

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The Murrieta City Council met Tuesday, Aug. 4, to discuss homelessness in Murrieta and to provide direction to staff regarding Project Homekey, a grant opportunity to benefit the homeless. The city council voted 4-1, with Mayor Pro Tem Scott Vinton opposed, to continue investigating Project Homekey and to submit the application for funding.

New state funding, also known as Project Homekey, would allow the city to purchase new shelters with $60 million in funding. The city is currently looking at two potential shelter locations if granted funding by Project Homekey.

“Homelessness is a complex issue that disproportionately affects California more than any other state,” Brian Ambrose, senior program manager, said.

In Murrieta, there are 18 homeless individuals, according to Ambrose, which is a large difference from surrounding counties such as San Diego and Los Angeles.

About five years ago, Murrieta created the Regional Homeless Alliance, which awarded grants to provide support for homeless individuals in collaboration with Temecula, Lake Elsinore, Menifee and Wildomar.

“While not perfect, our annual Point-in-Time Count is the most accurate long-term indicator of the homeless population,” Ambrose said.

Every January, police officers and volunteers count every homeless person in the county for the annual Point-in-Time Count.

Riverside County has experienced a 113% increase in homeless population; however, in 2019, each city reported a 5% decrease in homeless individuals, according to Ambrose. The funding budgeted this year will not cover cleanups and other services provided to combat homelessness. In addition, Murrieta does not have enough shelter beds in the city, he said.

The city council will meet in the coming weeks to address information in regards to Project Homekey.

Samantha Cox can be reached by email at valleystaff@reedermedia.com.