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Council to Establish Homeless Task Force

October 07, 1998|S.J. CAHN

A week after approving an ordinance banning camping by transients, the City Council has decided to form a task force to deal with homeless issues.

The council agreed at its meeting Monday night to establish the committee, which would include members of local churches and homeless advocacy groups.

During the meeting, more than two dozen of the city's homeless and their advocates criticized the council for banning camping within the city limits. They asked the council to vote down the ordinance and look for alternative ways to help the homeless.

"You need to address a solution, rather than say these people have no right to be in Simi Valley," said Chuck Culpepper, a longtime Simi Valley resident who said he was homeless for about six months in 1996. "It's hard to be homeless. It's hard enough already without being arrested."

A group of local churches provide temporary winter shelter for the homeless from Nov. 1 through March every year.

But Dianne Hooley, executive director of the Samaritan Center in Simi Valley, said she would like to see the city establish a permanent homeless shelter. About 84% of Simi Valley's 100 to 200 homeless are longtime residents, Hooley said.

Until a task force is established, the council agreed that the anti-camping ordinance was necessary to help police combat egregious violators.

"Without this ordinance, this camping will persist," Councilman Bill Davis said. "You have to give the police some sort of mechanism."

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