Costa Mesa officials announced this week that a new bridge shelter is being prepared for a grand opening in late March, whichwill be outfitted with furnishing, fixtures and equipment from IKEA.

In a presentation Tuesday before the City Council, Asst. City Manager Susan Price provided a progress report on the city’s efforts to reduce street homelessness, in part, through completion of a 72-bed bridge shelter that will serve homeless individuals in Costa Mesa and Newport Beach.

Thanks to a partnership with IKEA, which operates a location on the city’s South Coast Drive, an interior design team has agreed to outfit portions of the interior.

City Manager Lori Ann Farrell Harrison said the building will be the first homeless shelter in the nation to be furnished by IKEA.

“We’re very happy to have that partnership and the generosity of a business that’s so prominent and is willing to give back,” she said.

Price also provided an update on the city’s current efforts to keep homeless individuals housed and safe during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Currently, 18 people are residing at a temporary shelter at Lighthouse Church of the Nazarene, while another nine high-risk and older individuals have been placed in separate quarters at area motels. Price said the shelter’s 50-bed capacity has been scaled back to 24 beds to ensure client safety.

“Staying under 24 has given us a good amount of peace of mind, and I’m happy to report we have had zero positive COVID-19 cases among the clients we’ve served at the shelter,” she told the council.

Price reported 74 individuals have found housing through the Lighthouse bridge shelter, while the city’s Street Outreach Team has helped another 92 people exit homelessness in a two-year period.

“Our teams are working around the clock, both on the streets and in the shelter, using every mechanism possible to try and stabilize people we come in contact with,” she said.

A newly formed Neighborhood Improvement Task Force will function as a de facto quality-of-life response team that combines street outreach efforts with input from members of code enforcement, law enforcement and public services employees to improve environmental issues associated with homelessness, Price added.

In April 2019, after the city opened the temporary shelter at Lighthouse Church, officials made a commitment to construct a permanent bridge shelter that would offer temporary residence while men and women transitioned to available housing options.

Council members dedicated $11.4 million to acquire and retrofit a 12,285-square-foot portion of an industrial warehouse at 3175 Airway Ave. to accommodate a 72-bed shelter with full-service kitchen and space for offices and intake.

With construction nearly complete, occupants are expected to begin moving in during the last week of March, according to Farrell Harrison. Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, occupancy will initially be capped at around 40 residents. City officials Tuesday noted receipt of a $50,000 donation from the Costa Mesa Sanitary District to put toward the project.

Staff estimate the transition of clients from the Lighthouse temporary shelter to the new permanent bridge shelter will take some time. Farrell Harrison indicated the goal was to close the temporary shelter by May 1.

“I’m really excited for the completion of the permanent shelter,” said Councilwoman Arlis Reynolds, expressing her wish for a smooth transition of services. “We had a lot of conversations with that community and made a lot of promises that, I think, so far, we’ve done a good job of carrying out.”

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