ANAHEIM, Calif. — As policymakers grapple with ways to ease homelessness, one nonprofit is looking to supply some fun.
What You Need To Know
- The Illumination Foundation will host its ninth Carnival For Kids at Anaheim's La Palma Park
- There are 389 families experiencing homelessness in Orange County, according to the most recent point-in-time count
- The recent point-in-time count also showed upticks in the numbers of seniors and women who are homeless
- Illumination Foundation has an annual budget of about $50 million and operates in a handful of OC cities and in Riverside County
The Illumination Foundation will run its ninth annual Carnival For Kids in Anaheim on July 30 for struggling families at La Palma Park from noon to 4 p.m.
“It’s a time for the kids to have the freedom to run around and do something they wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to do,” said Jack Toan, co-CEO of Illumination Foundation.
Homelessness and housing insecurity in Orange County remain key issues even as a slate of local and state programs has been deployed to try to ease the burden.
“The environment has become very difficult for families. Specifically, people need resources,” he said. “Access is still difficult. Rising costs, inflation, high gas prices, it’s all very difficult for families.”
There are 389 families (486 adults and 715 children) experiencing homelessness in Orange County, according to the most recent point-in-time count conducted early this year. Toan said homelessness or housing insecurity can expose children to trauma, whether it’s lack of food, health care or a safe place to sleep.
A lot of it comes down to housing, as high costs for land and construction have slowed new development. Along with huge hikes in housing and rental costs, nonprofits and government programs are hustling to purchase and refurbish old buildings or knock them down in favor of replacements.
“There’s a lot more families in need. Housing is definitely a bottleneck for us,” Toan said.
The recent point-in-time count also showed upticks in the numbers of seniors and women who are homeless.
“We’re seeing a growing senior women population that’s experiencing homelessness and families are having trouble finding resources for kids with disabilities,” said Toan.
Illumination Foundation has an annual budget of about $50 million and operates in a handful of Orange County cities and in Riverside County. In 2021, they housed 477 families overall and served 243 children and parents.
But the carnival is about forgetting all of that for a day. There will be food vendors, entertainment all sponsored by a range of partners, including Farmers & Merchants Bank, West Coast University and Kaiser Permanente Orange County.
“The fair costs money, and they definitely can’t go to Disneyland,” he said. “Those are things you don’t prioritize when you’re worried about what you’re going to eat or where you’re going to sleep – we’re trying to provide some of that.”