It would be most unfortunate if, in the process of trying to decide the best place in Irvine to locate the homeless, the city lost $496,000 in previously approved federal housing funds because of a congressman's meddling into the local issue.
The congressman in this case is Rep. Robert E. Badham (R-Newport Beach), who, in response to a number of letters and phone calls from Irvine residents in his 40th Congressional District, intervened and persuaded the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to reconsider its approval earlier this month of Irvine's request for the funds. The money, according to the grant request, is to be used to convert a never-occupied building constructed about three years ago as an animal shelter into housing for the homeless.
The decision whether to convert the unused building into a 50-bed central facility for the homeless, to move modular units such as trailers onto the city's 20-acre parcel in East Irvine or to choose any other option the community may come up with is strictly a local decision to be made by the City Council, not by the congressman.
Badham, however, interjected himself into the controversy because he heard from constituents opposed to the plan and because of his personal concerns about putting the homeless together "in a converted animal shelter" and under the flight path of military jets using the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station.