A newly adopted plan to reduce citywide homelessness through a series of incremental steps will require officials to meet “measurable” goals that make a difference over time, Riverside Mayor Patricia Lock Dawson said Wednesday.

The Riverside City Council on Tuesday night adopted a “Homeless Action Plan” that relies on expansion of affordable housing, additional emergency shelters and enhanced substance abuse treatment opportunities to get people off of the streets.

“While there is still much work to be done around homelessness, Riverside is working to address this very serious challenge,” Dawson said. “This statewide problem continues to impact our residents, businesses and the community at large. Approval of the `Homeless Action Plan’ reflects Riverside’s commitment to making wise investments and holds us accountable with measurable results.”

The plan was fashioned based on input from residents during community meetings, work on the part of the city’s Housing & Homelessness Committee and strategy sessions involving staff from the Office of Homeless Solutions.

“This plan is the result of a thorough and inclusive approach to involve a wide range of our community in addressing the biggest issue of our day,” Councilwoman Erin Edwards said. “The time we have taken has been worth it to get a plan that is detailed with specific goals and targets.”

The growth of affordable housing is one of the key goals for reducing homelessness, and according to officials, the city will seek to expand the number of affordable units by 5% over the next several years.

The objective is to correspondingly reduce chronic homelessness by the same amount.

The plan also calls for increasing the inventory of emergency shelter beds by 25% next year, and at the same time, help 10% of unsheltered people into transitional and other housing options.

Officials said providing a greater number of mental health and substance abuse treatment services will be a major component of the plan.

The new targets come a week after the council approved an ordinance to permanently dismantle homeless encampments along the Santa Ana River bottom to reduce wildfire risks and habitat destruction. A recent survey discovered nearly 40 known encampments spread along the river bottom, within municipal boundaries, from Highgrove to Norco.

That policy takes effect on Nov. 4.

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