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Whittier May Join Homeless Settlement To Mandate Shelter, Allow Enforcement

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The city of Whittier is considering joining a legal settlement in Orange County in hopes of being able to enforce anti-camping laws in exchange for building a homeless shelter.

Last year, the city of Bellflower signed onto the settlement.

Whittier Mayor Joe Vinatieri says joining the settlement would allow the city to tackle homelessness on a manageable scale, rather than as part of massive Los Angeles County, where nearly 59,000 people sleep on the streets each night.

"[Los Angeles] is a mess, it's an absolute travesty, it's so big," Vinatieri said.

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But Whittier's small size could also be a problem, he said. Without the help of the county, the city might not have enough money to build its own shelters.

“So am I going to cut into the police department to now have to fund homeless housing? That's a tough one for me, personally,” Vinatieri said, adding that law enforcement accounts for nearly half of the city’s budget.

If Whittier does build a shelter, Vinatieri wants it to be for people with ties to the city. In a homeless count conducted by a nonprofit city contractor, over half of the 231 people interviewed said their last permanent address was in Whittier.