The Irvine Way: Prevention, Partnership, Compassion

The City of Irvine has a long history of providing solutions that help prevent homelessness. Irvine is leading the way with affordable housing initiatives, providing more housing than any other Orange County city. However, we know this isn’t the whole solution. That’s why we have implemented compassionate outreach with the creation of the Irvine Police Department’s Mental Health Team, which includes a dedicated Homeless Liaison Officer. And we’ve partnered with nonprofit organizations including Human Options and Families Forward to provide help for those in need.

Learn more about how Irvine contributes to solving the homeless crisis in Orange County below.

PREVENTION

Affordable Housing 

Over the past 30 years, Irvine has developed more affordable housing for families and individuals at risk of homelessness than any other Orange County city. Irvine has also provided over $6.7 million in grant funding to nonprofit organizations for homelessness prevention programs. The City has an ambitious affordable housing program that is an integral part of its broad strategy to prevent homelessness. With over 3,600 housing units that are deeply affordable for extremely low and very low income households (the most in Orange County), Irvine provides housing security to families and individuals often considered at risk of homelessness.

The City creates affordable housing primarily through its inclusionary housing requirement that 15 percent of all new residential development be affordable to lower-income households. This program and others have led to the construction of 73 properties with affordable housing (the most in Orange County) providing 4,494 total affordable housing units (the most in Orange County), with 84 percent of these units for extremely low or very low income households (the most in Orange County). Irvine has an additional 14 properties with 1,112 affordable housing units underway (the most in Orange County), primarily for very low income households. When completed, over 5 percent of the City’s total housing supply will be affordable (the most in Orange County).

In 2018, Irvine added 237 affordable housing units reserved for low-, very low-, and extremely low-income residents. With these units and others currently in the planning stages, the City is on track to provide approximately 5,500 permanent affordable housing units by 2021.

The City also provides financial support for emergency shelters, rapid rehousing, and permanent supportive housing programs administered by local nonprofit organizations. Human Options Inc. operates an emergency shelter consisting of 48 beds for victims of domestic violence. Families Forward and OC Gateway & Housing operate 70 rapid rehousing beds for households with children that are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Permanent supportive housing is incorporated into two City-subsidized affordable housing developments, including Doria Apartments (20 units) and Alegre Apartments (11 units).

Learn more about Affordable Housing and join an interest list for upcoming units at cityofirvine.org/community-development/affordable-housing.

Irvine Community Land Trust

The Irvine Community Land Trust, established by City leaders in 2006 to provide permanent affordable housing, recently opened the 80-unit Parc Derian, which makes units available for veterans and the disabled. This year, the Land Trust will begin work on Salerno, another 80-unit community that will offer additional permanent affordable housing.

In 2017, the Land Trust became an independent agency, allowing greater operational efficiency while maintaining public involvement through its partnership with the City. The Land Trust is committed to helping low- and moderate-income families by developing 5,000 affordable homes.

Learn more about the Irvine Community Land Trust.

Irvine Children's Fund

In 1984, the City of Irvine and the Irvine Unified School District formed a joint powers agreement establishing the Irvine Child Care Project (ICCP).  It is a unique partnership in which the City and IUSD collaborate to accommodate more affordable, quality child care in the City. Two years later, the Irvine Children's Fund (ICF) was created to meet funding needs for before and after school care for low-income working families. In 2018-19, ICF committed $130,000 in funding at 27 child care sites in Irvine. Last year, ICF provided 6,000 child care days, with this year on track for even more. 

ICF prevents homelessness by providing work stability for families. Funding for child care scholarships is provided through Community Development Block Grants; donations from organizations and individuals; and fundraising including ICF's signature event, the Irvine Junior Games. More than $ 2.8 million has been raised to support the ICF's mission. 

Learn more at irvinechildrensfund.org.

COMPASSION

Mental Health Team

The Irvine Police Department Mental Health Unit, established in 2014, takes a case-management approach that has been lauded on a state and national level. Two dedicated Mental Health Officers are paired with County clinicians on a weekly basis to follow up on cases in which a mental health need is identified. Our Mental Health Officers have advanced expertise, with one being a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and the other working toward a master’s degree in psychology. Another integral member of the team is a clinician from the City’s FOR Families program.

As we know, mental illness is often an underlying cause of homelessness. To that end, one of the team’s Mental Health Officers serves a Homeless Liaison Officer, providing outreach to those experiencing homelessness.

In addition to these dedicated resources, the Irvine Police Department has Mental Health Liaison Officers with advanced training, and all Patrol Officers have attended crisis intervention training.

The City has established a dedicated email address, outreach@cityofirvine.org, to address homelessness in Irvine. If you know someone in need of services, or if you have a question related to homelessness in Irvine, please contact us.

Read more about the Mental Health Team here

To speak to a Mental Health Officer, call 949-724-7000. If this is an emergency, dial 9-1-1.

PARTNERSHIP

In addition to affordable housing, supportive housing, and emergency shelter partners, the City provides grant funding to local nonprofit organizations for homelessness prevention services in Irvine, including Families Forward, South County Outreach, Human Options, and StandUp for Kids. The funded activities include transitional housing with supportive services, emergency rent and utility payment assistance, life skills counseling, clothing, and food pantries. The City also partners with Second Chance OC to provide educational planning and job placement for young adults who struggle with substance abuse. FOR Families is located at the Irvine Civic Center and provides social services related to mental health and substance abuse for individuals, couples and families in Irvine.  

Families Forward 

Families Forward of Irvine exists to help families in need achieve and maintain self-sufficiency through housing, food, counseling, education, and other support services.

Second Harvest Food Bank 

Irvine-based Second Harvest Food Bank brings nourishment and hope to 301,000 hungry people throughout Orange County.

FOR FAMILIES 

The City of Irvine’s FOR Families provides free information and short-term support to individuals, couples and families living in Irvine who need assistance identifying and accessing needed services and resources. 

Human Options 

Human Options provides safety, healing, and a way forward to victims of domestic violence in Orange County.

Second Chance OC 

Second Chance Orange County is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit that helps low-income individuals recovering from drug/alcohol addiction and/or homeless become productive members of society by providing individualized supportive services.

South County Outreach 

This nonprofit works to prevent hunger and homelessness in South Orange County.

StandUp for Kids (standupforkids.org/orangecounty)

StandUp for Kids has the overall goal of leading homeless youth to self-sufficiency and preventing at-risk youth from gang involvement, substance abuse, teen pregnancy, and dropping out of school.